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Legislators express satisfaction with pace of Ogoniland clean-up amid concerns

The Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Climate Change and Ecology say they are satisfied with the pace of work at the Ogoniland clean-up amidst criticism over its delay.

Members of the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Climate Change and Ecology during a tour of remediation sites

The Joint Committee Chairman, Sen. Hassan Mohammed, stated this in Alode community, Eleme, on Thursday, September 10, 2020 at the end of the committees’ oversight visit to some remediation sites in Ogoniland.

He said the committee decided to visit the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) to ascertain the level of implementation of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Report on Ogoniland.

“We have gone round the remediation sites and we have seen that work is ongoing and done in the right way.

“However, a lot of people are complaining, including the non-governmental organisations and the communities in the manner the job is going on.

“But we observed from our tour that the project is a technical work that needs time to carry out, so it shouldn’t be rushed because of technicalities associated with the project.

Mohammed urged the Ogoni people to be patient to enable HYPREP achieve its mandate of remediating the decades-long oil spills in the area.

He said the National Assembly was desirous to the full commencement of the clean-up of oil impacted Ogoni communities.

“But if the exercise is rushed and if care is not taken money can be spent without getting the expected benefits.

“I am not a professional, but I think that HYPREP is on course going by what we saw on ground.

“So, the communities should be patient and allow the technicians to do their job,” he appealed.

The committee chairman called on the contractors to speed up work on the sites to alleviate the sufferings faced by people of the area.

Dr Marvin Dekil, the Coordinator of HYPREP, under the Federal Ministry of Environment, said the agency had completed work on seven remediation sites of the 21 lots in the area.

He further said the agency had also awarded contracts for additional 26 lots bringing the total to 47 sites.

“So, we took them (committee members) to see the sites where we have completed work and others that are ongoing.

“We told them the challenges we face, including delays caused by communities; weather related issues; expectations, perception and other developmental needs of the communities that have plagued the clean-up exercise,” he said.

Dekil thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment to the clean-up exercise and called for the support of the National Assembly to the project.

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) had earlier called on the National Assembly to exercise its powers of oversight on the Ogoni clean-up process.

ERA/FoEN’s Executive Director, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, expressed concern that several years after President Muhammadu Buhari flagged off the Ogoni clean-up process, there were signs that the project might fail if remedial actions are not taken.

The ERA/FoEN chief, who observed that contractors procured for the clean-up exercise lacked the capacity to achieve the objective, said that key deliverables in critical areas, such as transparency, accountability and local participation, had not been clearly articulated let alone achieved.

Ojo said that the immediate intervention of the National Assembly would save the country from wasting billions of naira at this early stage and also halt HYPREP’s drift towards the fate of similar laudable interventions in the Niger Delta that ended up in private pockets.

He, therefore, urged the lawmakers to adopt the HYPREP gazette and rework it with appropriate modification and pass it into law to provide backing with independent status.

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