Some civil society organisations (CSOs) and other strategic stakeholders have called on the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) to demonstrate more commitment and openness in the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recommendations on Ogoni clean-up.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ strategic meeting organised by Fostering Advancement of Community Empowerment (FACE) Initiative in Port Harcourt, the Executive Director of the initiative, Mr Inatimi Odio, said that the people’s expectations were very high, affirming that the slow pace of the clean-up was eroding the people’s confidence in the clean-up process.
Odio further called for more commitment in community engagement on the part of HYPREP in order to break the vacuum created as a result of poor communication.
He charged HYPREP management to do more inclusive engagement with community members, so as not to be perceived as being partial.
The executive director noted that the FACE Initiative would collaborate with other CSOs and community groups to contribute to expanding community interactions and engagements through sustained consultations and sensitisation on the importance of the Ogoni clean-up exercise.
He promised that FACE Initiative would work with other CSOs to strengthen the on-going advocacy for timely implementation of the UNEP report, particularly the emergency measures.
Also speaking, the Executive Director, African Citizens Initiative Rights and Development (ACIRD), Mr Young Kigbara, stressed the need for the independence of HYPREP so as to reduce the bureaucracy that currently exists, noting that this has contributed to the pace of the clean-up exercise.
Kigbara attributed the slow pace in HYPREP activities to overbearing and cumbersome bureaucratic process in the system of getting funds approved by the Federal Executive Council.
He also blamed HYPREP for not thinking through most of its activities, claiming that HYPREP does not have a work plan, adding that his claim was based on the fact that if HYPREP had one, it would have made same available for the public to easily access.
On her part, the Executive Director, Ketbekache Women Development Resource Centre, Madam Emem Okon, said that the centre’s concern was on how the women in the impacted communities were coping with the non-implementation of the emergency measures as stipulated by the UNEP report since it was released in 2011.
Okon pointed out that the issues of ensuring health database, executing integrated health outreach in the communities and provision of good drinking water were long overdue, adding that it was already nine years since the report was made public, yet the emergency measures have yet to be implemented, against the recommendation that it should be completed within the first five years.
According to her, “HYPREP must expedite action in implementing the emergency measures, provide communities clean drinking water, conduct health database registration, among other activities.
“In the case of community sensitisation, we want HYPREP to review their approach on this, such that it would include more community members, thereby giving them a sense of belonging.
“They should be included in the process of discussion, dialogue, and sensitisation, so that they can take ownership of the project and the process of the clean-up in Ogoniland”, Okon added.
Similarly, the Executive Director, Community Conciliation and Development Initiative (CCADI), Mr Kelechi Amaechi, said that the programme was aimed at gathering CSOs on how to support the clean-up process in Ogoni in a way that meets best international practices and the aspirations of community people.
Amaechi further explained that it was an opportunity for the evaluation of what HYPREP has done or failed to do as well as what key actors were doing while looking at gaps and innovations they could bring to the table so as to ensure more transparent and accountable delivery in the Ogoni clean-up exercise.