Executive Director of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, has charged the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project(HYPREP) to expedite action on the clean up and remediation of Ogoniland in Rivers State.
He was speaking during a Press Briefing on the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Assessment Report and Ogoni Cleanup Scorecard held at the ERA/FoEN International Secretariat in Benin.
Talking about HYPREP’s inaction, Ojo said among others that, “HYPREP was to take emergency relief measures to provide clean drinking water, placing signs near polluted wells and warning people not to drink the water, not to bath with the water and not to fish in it.
“As a temporary measure, water was trucked into communities, but this was halted in 2014. Signs were also posted at some riverbanks, but alternative water sources and livelihood support was not provided for people who continued to use the water despite the warning.”
Ojo demanded for the conduct of “a survey of all storage water wells that were found to be contaminated; inform people whose rainwater tested positive.
“Establish a public health registry for the entire Ogoniland population to determine health trends and take proactive action. Link the emergence of diseases that were not common in the Ogoni area. This has not been done and the likelihood of any work being done on this item is almost nil.”
On the UNEP scorecard, Ojo said, “HYPREP, the special purpose vehicle set up to implement the Ogoni clean up process has despite the best efforts of concerned stakeholders struggled to effectively deliver on any of the recommendations set out in the UNEP report.
“The agency lacks the manpower, strategies, expertise, and experience required to pull off a multifaceted cleanup, remediation, and restoration project of this magnitude. Their unpreparedness for the task was made even more glaring with the bungling of the first phase cleanup scoping and contract awards.”
Going further, Ojo stressed that “the cleanup process appears to have been jettisoned by the actions of the different Ministers of Environment who now run HYPREP as sole administrators. There have been six different Ministers of Environment since the project was launched in 2016.”