$800m Ogoni Clean-Up Funds: CACOL Calls On Project Contractor, HYPREP To Explain How Fund Was Expended

The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has thrown its weight behind the calls for probe into the activities of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, implementing agency of the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, recommended cleanup of oil polluted Ogoni land, Rivers State. In a press release issued by the organization’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of Mr. Debo Adeniran, CACOL’s Chairman, he noted, “It would be recalled that Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP, recently called on the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, a federal government agency saddled with the task of cleaning up the polluted Ogoni environment to account for a whopping sum of $800million fund meant for the exercise. President of MOSOP, Fegalo Nsuke made the call in Port Harcourt, Rivers state capital on Thursday to mark the six years anniversary of the official flag-off of the Ogoni cleanup programme by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at Bodo on June 2, 2016, said there is little or nothing done so far. Nsuke was quoted as saying “Not much has been achieved but corruption, mismanagement and embezzlement. HYPREP has received over $800 million and additional N6 billion for water supplies. What we have seen is bribery and looting of the cleanup funds”. The CACOL Boss hinted “The Ogoniland area of southern Nigeria is one of the most polluted places on Earth. The crops are burnt to a cinder, ash and tar smother the land and the wells are polluted with oil, making the water totally undrinkable. Entire communities have suffered as their way of life has been destroyed by the oil industry and pollution has become the norm in the Community”. “The effect of pollution on the Nigerian delta has been great. As a result of oil spills and industrial waste dumped into the Niger River Delta, fishing as a means of supplying food for the tribe is no longer an option because very few fish remain in the river. The groundwater is contaminated and is not safe for drinking. The most immediate threat to Ogoni people is oils spills, which have damaged their land dramatically. At least one hundred pumping stations and pipelines crisscross Ogoniland. The pipelines run over farm land and through villages; leaks and spills are a common occurrence. The UN says it will take 30 years of effort to clean up the mess. Amnesty International accuses the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell of turning a blind eye to or even helping the military’s use of rape, torture and unlawful killings amid protests against pollution and poverty back in the 1990s”. It was a huge relief when the federal Government decided to implement the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, recommended cleanup of oil polluted Ogoni land by the establishment of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project HYPREP under the Federal Ministry of Environment to achieve the under listed functions in Ogoniland and other impacted communities: · investigate, map and evaluate hydrocarbon polluted communities and sites in Nigeria referred to it by the National Oil Spill Detection Response Agency (NOSDRA) or the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and make recommendations to the Federal government.· implement the recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report on Environmental Restoration of Ogoniland (UNEP Report) as directed by the HYPREP Governing Council.· Initiate, and develop work programmes aimed at restoring all hydrocarbon impacted communities and sites referred to HYPREP· Undertake a comprehensive assessment and mapping of all environmental issues associated with hydrocarbon pollution, in collaboration with NOSDRA· Provide guidance data to undertake remediation of contaminated soil and ground water in Ogoniland and such other impacted communities as may be referred to it· Technically evaluate alternative technologies to be employed to undertake remediation of contaminated soil and ground water· Make recommendations for responding to future environmental contamination from hydrocarbons· Ensure full environmental recovery and restoration of Ogoni ecosystem services for Ogoni people and other impacted communities.It is so unfortunate that till now the performance of HYPREP in Ogoniland is nothing to write home about. The agency has not lived up to expectations. The situation in the Community has not improved even with the huge financial resources committed to the agency. The facts are not just embarrassing but criminally so. How could we have discovered crude oil in Olobiri since 1955, yet, we are left behind by other nations especially the Arabian countries that were blessed with the resources years after us? How can we be proud of our record as the sixth oil producing country in OPEC yet the people of the oil rich communities wallow in abject poverty and deprivation worsened by a very inhuman state of environmental degradation? We at CACOL believe that it is a tragic narration on our nation, Nigeria that despite the huge resources allocated for projects, when it comes to execution of the project, it becomes a sad story. We want to call on the management of HYPREP to account for all the money collected so far and the positive impact they have made in Ogoniland, if any. As an Agency of government, they must respond to the yearnings of the people of Ogoniland and justify the huge resources they have collected.

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