By Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin
The Environmental Rights Action and Friends of the Earth, ERA/FoEN, Amnesty International, AI, and the Dutch Environmental Organisation (Millieudefensie Investigates), has asked the Nigerian Government to overhaul the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, alleging that the body has lost its utilitarian value, nine years after the project to clean up Ogoniland in Rivers State was launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The Executive Director ERA/FoEN, Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo made the call during the global launch of the progress monitoring report on Ogoniland clean up on behalf the various organizations.
Recalling the recent survey by ERA/FoEN on HYPREP’s operations during the two field visits to 17 out of 21 oil spill sites which were captured in graphic images, Mr Ojo said 11 out of the 16 companies that were contracted for the cleanup, do not have “registered expertise in oil pollution remediation or related areas.”
He called on Shell Multinational Company to recourse itself from the Governing Board for Ogoniland cleanup project and halt the “conflict of interest between units heads in HUPREP and Shell Company, alleging that the overbearing political and economic influence of Shell is hampering the project in the past two years.
He expressed sadness over the slow of work by past and present leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari for lacking the will power to implement the Key Performance Indicators, KPI of work/implementation plan, intended to address the structural flaws arising from contaminated drinking water and other basic amenities in the area in Ogoniland.
To demonstrate the lack of HYPREP capacity, Dr Ojo, said: “It will take HYPREP 100 years to utilize its 5-year budget. As we speak, HYPREP is yet to make the requisition for the US$200 million due for 2020. From US$360 million receives by HYPREP, only US$31 has been spent partly due to Shell’s overbearing power in HYPREP structures.”
The Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, urged the federal Government to urgently reorganize and completely overhaul HYPREP apparatus for it to be able to truly deliver on what he termed a “significant clean up” in Ogoniland.
On his part, the Executive Director Foundation of Good Governance and Social Change, Comrade Austin Osakue, questioned “the quantum of stakeholders’ consultation and engagement that preceded the launch of the cleanup in Ogoniland.
He stressed the deficit in the agreements regulating activities of the multinational company and the federal government.
“Whatever has been done by HYPREP in terms of cleanup of Ogoniland, was done whimsically”, he lamented.
Stakeholders from the world of Civil Society Organizations, CSOs, and the media were present at the interactive session.