OGONI CLEANUP: FOUR YEARS AFTER FLAG-OFF; HYPREP NEEDS MORE 22 YEARS TO COMPLETE FIRST FIVE YEARS’ WORK
PRESS RELEASE JUNE 2, 2020
As today, June 2, 2020 marks four (4) years after the flag-off of Ogoni Cleanup on June 2, 2016, Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (simply called YEAC or ADVOCACY CENTRE), a nongovernmental organization that has been monitoring the implementation of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Report 2011 on Ogoniland has observed that Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), may need extra 22years to complete the first five years project recommended by UNEP Report.
UNEP recommended in the August 4, 2011 report that the first five years of the Ogoni cleanup project (which started counting on June 2, 2016) would be for the cleaning and removal of black contaminated crude from the soil and implementation of emergency measures while the other 20-25years would be needed for environmental remediation and restoration. Between June 2, 2016 and today, June 2, 2020, HYPREP has spent four years out of the first five years of the project earmarked to cost $1billion. Out of the $1billion, HYPREP had received $360million and out of which, HYPREP said it has spent just about $44million in the past four years. Thus, if HYPREP said it has spent only about $44million in the past four years out of the $360million it has so far received then, it would take HYPREP till 2042; about extra 22 years more of spending $44million every four years to exhausts the remaining $956million before it would be able to complete the first phase of Ogoni cleanup that UNEP said would take just five years. Going by this analogy occasioned by the snail speed of HYPREP which ADVOCACY CENTRE blamed on lack of capacity, the second phase of the project which is environmental remediation and restoration would start in 2042 and last till about 2064 or 2069 if HYPREP keeps to the pace of work as recommended by UNEP.
ADVOCACY CENTRE however regrets to note that four years down the line, neither the black crude nor emergency measures has been cleaned up or implemented by HYPREP in Ogoniland. Furthermore, the unfortunate rhythm of “four years down the line” on Ogoni cleanup project by HYPREP include that four years down the line, no significant work has been recorded on Ogoni clean up; four years down the line, HYPREP is still demonstrating lack of capacity to use available funds to fast-track Ogoni cleanup as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR; four years down the line, UNEP recommended emergency measures (contaminated soil management centre, centre of excellence, health audit, provision of drinking water, etc.) have not been implemented; four years down the line, Ogoni people are still without adequate sensitization and information about the project as recommended by UNEP report with general complaint about lack of transparency and accountability in the cleanup process; four years down the line, Ogoni people are still drinking polluted water and could be exposed to contracting corona virus disease (COVID-19) as they do not have clean and/or running water to wash their hands regularly as recommended by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as one of the preventive measures against contracting COVID-19.
It is against these backgrounds that ADVOCACY CENTRE will not hesitate to say here that the problem with Ogoni cleanup is total lack of capacity in HYPREP, confusion, distractions and a vicious circle of management conflict from the Ministry of Environment leading failure to drive the cleanup process. Bearing these in mind, YEAC concludes that the snail speed of Ogoni cleanup should not be blamed on President Muhammadu Buhari or the Joint Venture Partners who have graciously provided the needed funding up to $360million so far and said they are ready to provide more money on HYPREP’s request.
ADVOCACY CENTRE thus uses this opportunity of the 4th anniversary of the flag-off and commencement of Ogoni cleanup to call on HYPREP to demonstrate capacity if it claims to have one, return to its drawing board and recommence the cleanup according to UNEP Report recommendations starting with emergency measures and provision of running water for the Ogoni people which is absolutely necessary especially now that World Health Organization (W.H.O.) has said that COVID-19 is not leaving humanity so soon. HYPREP must attempt the demonstration of seeming capacity and use available funds to improve the lives of the Ogoni people through the implementation of emergency measures on the cleanup as recommended by UNEP Report 2011.
FYNEFACE DUMNAMENE FYNEFACE,
Environmental Justice Activist, Human Rights Defender and
Executive Director, ADVOCACY CENTRE.