The Federal Government of Nigeria has established a Central Representative Advisory Committee (CRAC) for the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), a move that officials say demonstrates their commitment towards actualising the Ogoniland clean-up.
The committee, it was gathered, is expected to serve as an all-inclusive and multi-faceted approach to the Ogoniland clean-up, with a clear mandate to act as a bridge between stakeholders, communities, groups, and HYPREP on all issues relating to a successful project execution.
Inaugurating the Committee on Monday, April 8, 2019 in Abuja, the Minister of Environment, Suleiman Hassan Zarma, said that, in setting up HYPREP, government was careful to note that in the process of executing the clean-up project, there may arise issues from several areas that will require resolution.
The minister pointed out that it was in consideration of the fact that it was embedded in the HYPREP Gazette the establishment of Central Representatives Advisory Committee (CRAC).
Addressing the newly inaugurated committee members, Zarma said: “Your nomination to serve in the committee is another level provided for you to continue in the pursuit of the restoration of Ogoniland. It is also a result of the trust your people have in you to be a true representative and to help guide HYPREP and the Federal Government by extension to resolve issues that may arise without bias and without resorting to litigation.”
The minister expressed the belief that, as grassroots people, their interface between the communities and HYPREP on thorny issues arising from the cleanup project would in no small measure help build a peaceful and secured environment for the successful implementation of the clean-up of Ogoniland.
In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, charged the CRAC members to be guided by the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to the timely restoration of aquatic and environmental life in Ogoniland and called for “the urgency of the assignment, and hit the ground running as you move to carry out this important national duty”.
Speaking on behalf of members of the committee, the Chairman and Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Marvin Decal, thanked the minister for the confidence reposed on the members and assured that they would bring their wealth of experience to bear in the assignment.
He said, “It is a special day because HYPREP from today has a voice that can speak and be heard in the Ogoni Communities.”
Speaking on behalf of the Ogoniland Council of Traditional Rulers, HRH, Sir Samuel L.A. Nnee, the Gbenemene Tua-Tua and paramount Ruler of Kpite, Tai, who is also a member of the committee, assured that, with the inauguration of the committee, “there will be peace in Ogoniland henceforth”.
The Royal Father added, “We have been following with satisfaction the progress being made on the Ogoniland clean-up exercise. We are happy with what is going on and henceforth, there would be peace.”
In his remarks, a prominent member of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) who is also a Member of HYPREP Governing Council, Legborsi Pyabara, said the inauguration of the committee was a clear indication that the Federal Government would carry all parties along in the Ogoniland clean-up.
He said, “We believe the participation and involvement of the communities in the exercise is very important. And we consider this committee a very important structure in the development of our communities.”
The founding Secretary General of MOSOP and another Member of HYPREP Board, Prof. Ben Naanen, said the committee would provide a good platform to launch another phase of the struggle for the good of Ogoniland, even as he expressed optimism that it will build a workable bridge between the communities and HYPREP.
The 10-member committee which is made up of HYPREP Project Coordinator who is also the Chairman, with representatives of the Rivers State Government, International Oil Companies (IOCs), civil society organisations, traditional rulers and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is expected to mediate, counsel, advice, reconcile and recommend appropriate actions where applicable with the impacted communities, stakeholders and Rivers State Government as targets, so as to ensure a hitch-free clean-up exercise.