Ogoni People in the Niger Delta have been expressing their dissatisfaction with the level of environmental clean up exercise that was recommended by the United Nations in 2011,saying the work is slow and not meeting UN specifications. How ever the government insists that the exercise is going on smoothly if not the little delay caused by the Covid19 pandemic recently.
The environmental clean up followed a 2006 request of the Nigerian Government to the United Nations Environmental Programme ,for an independent assessment of the environment and public health impacts of oil contamination in Ogoni Land, in the Niger Delta. Over 4000 samples were collected for analysis from more than 200 sites.
This led to a three year land mark UNEP report in 2011 which exposed shocking levels of pollution caused by spills in the area. The report identified 41 grossly polluted sites where oil had entered wells and underground water supplies.
After the creation of a governing council and Board Of Trustees, known as HYPREP to oversee and fund the clean up process, Shell made available the sum of $10 m take off fund for the Hyprep.
However since the launching of the clean up exercise by the Muhammadu Buhari led administration in 2017, the people of Ogoni land are still not satisfied with the phase of work so far, accusing the Coordinating body of the clean up exercise, which is Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project HYPREP, of corruption and non compliance to the UNEP recommendations.
An environmentalist ,Mr FyneFace Dumnamene said ,indeed the Ogonis are not happy with phase of work so far. He said “The Ogonis are not satisfied with the level of environmental remediation’s so far undertaken by the Hydrocarbon pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP in Ogoni land .Because the project started without the implementation of the emergency measures recommended by the United Nations environment programme in the 2011 report released by UNEP. The report says that at the preliminary stage ,should begin with provision of emergency measures. These emergency measures include the provision of potable drinking water for the people and of cause the provision of issues around livelihood, including the building of Contaminated soil management Center ,and of cause the Center of excellence where the skills of young people can be built to be able to feature properly in the clean up project”.
Mr Bemene Tanem is an Ogoni man ,and in our discussion ,he said everything is fake and only on faces of news papers.
“I am an Ogoni man, i have said it severally, that i am not satisfied with the clean up exercise. President Muhammadu Buhari actually meant well for the Ogoni people, but for those that are executing the project, they are not doing what they ought to do, what we are hearing most of the time is, they will go on media, intimidate the area with media fake news that is not existing ,so i am saying that the proper thing have not been done. The clean up exercise did not follow the specification of the United Nations standard. What is happening is fake and I will repeat it on and on and on again”.
He continued “there are certain laid down procedures that was recommended, the basic things have not been done. Hurriedly they are going to site, and you know ,doing things as if something is happening, telling people that they are doing exercise, what are the basic things that have been put in place? ,they have not done it, they have not, as i am talking to you nothing have been done ,apart from media news ,oppressing the people with media cook up stories”.
Meanwhile, penultimate week, the Federal Government apologized to the Ogoni People for the delay of the exercise ,which it said was caused by Covid19 pandemic, it said how ever , that work has since resume in earnest, and has been going on as planned, and that so far 17 contaminated sites have been cleaned up and certified clean. The government also said, it has awarded contracts for six water projects in the area, while 400 Ogoni women have been trained in various small businesses in agriculture, aquaculture Poultry and more.
According to agreements signed in respect of the clean up, about $ 200 m will be spent yearly for five years to clean up the devastated Ogoni land, which is 1000 sq. mile area, but Observers say more Funds may be needed to restore the ecosystem fully.
The United Nations Environmental Programme was reported to have said that the entire clean up could take for as long as 30 years.