*Describes call as anti-Ogoni, mischievous
17 September 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, has described calls by the Environmental Rights Action, ERA/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, on the Federal Government to disband the agency, as anti-Ogoni and mischievous.
Recall that the Executive Director of ERA, Dr. Godwin Ojo, had recently called for disbandment of HYPREP, alleging lack of capacity to drive the Ogoni clean-up, hence the delay in the commencement of the cleanup exercise since it was flagged off in 2016.
Ojo had accused the Federal Government of not following the recommendations of UNEP on Ogoniland, saying this administration lacks the political will to commence the cleanup, pointing out that the use of HYPREP as against UNEP recommendation of Ogoni Environmental Restoration Authority to manage the process, was already a deviation.
But HYPREP said it will be a disservice for the agency not to carry out proper procedures and best practices before embarking on a full-scale cleanup
Media Assistant to HYPREP Coordinator, Mr. Kpoobari Nafo, said since Dr. Marvin Dekil came on board, no day, week or month has been wasted, and that significant progress has been made diligently and doggedly towards actualizing Mr. President’s vision for Ogoniland.
Nafo explained that currently the agency is at the scoping and delineation stage and have advertised for companies to do remediation, carry out health impact studies and provide potable water for impacted Ogoni communities, in accordance with the procurement law.
He added that HYPREP remains focused on the clean-up of Ogoniland and will not be distracted by destructive criticisms until Ogoniland is thoroughly cleaned up.
“HYPREP is not averse to constructive criticisms that can add value. However, ERA and its boss know that the commencement point of a standard remediation exercise does not start with visually impressive, crowd-pleasing deployments of earth-moving equipment to sites.
“ERA knows that fairly lengthy and low-profile routine preparations, delineation and scoping, for example – need to be undertaken first. Or is ERA asking us to ignore best practices and do a substandard job for the long-suffering people of Ogoni, whose lands, swamps, surface and underground water have been massively polluted for decades?
“Does ERA not share our view that Ogoni people whose health and livelihoods have been seriously damaged deserve a modus operandi that will deliver sustainable results? In other words, ERA telling HYPREP to turn a blind eye to proper procedures and go straight to the actual clean-up is a disservice to the people of Ogoni whose welfare it claims to be concerned about.”
On claims by ERA that HYPREP cannot do the project because they lack the machinery and they do not have the capacity to drive it, Nafo said the agency is expected to award contracts to competent firms with the technical capability to do the job and not to do the job by itself.
He said it is untrue that the Government was not following the recommendation of UNEP or lacks the political will to commence the clean-up, explaining that the project flag-off in 2016 followed with the setting-up of governing structures (Governing Council, Board of Trustees and the Project Coordination Office) to superintend the affairs of the project and even included the administrative cost of the project in the 2018 budget.
“Is that not deliberate misinformation intended to discredit HYPREP or what is called give a dog a bad name to hang him? Is HYPREP expected to have the machinery to do the work or to award contracts to competent contractors with necessary technical know-how and the facilities to carry out remediation, health impact studies, livelihoods training and provision of potable water for impacted communities?
“Now it is abundantly clear that ERA’s call for the disbandment of HYPREP is ill-conceived and anti-Ogoni. Maybe the only crime of the project coordinator is the fact that he has been so preoccupied with prioritizing the Ogoni peoples’ interests that he has not allowed certain overbearing individuals and organizations to run HYPREP’s activities from the sidelines.”