…Says call mischievous, anti-Ogoni
18 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, for the Federal Government to disband the agency, as mischievous and anti-Ogoni.
Recall that the executive director of ERA, Dr. Godwin Ojo, had recently called for the disbandment of HYPREP, alleging lack of capacity to drive the Ogoni clean-up, hence the delay in the commencement of the exercise since it was flagged off in 2016.
Ojo had accused the Federal Government of not following the recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, on Ogoniland and alleged that the Muhammadu Buhari administration lacked the political will to commence the clean up. According to it also, the use of HYPREP as against UNEP-recommended 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 towards actualising the 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 exercise and will not be distracted by destructive criticisms until Ogoniland is thoroughly cleaned up.
Said he: “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 under-ground 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 lacked the political will to commence the clean-up, explaining that the project flagoff in 2016 was 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.