By Gladys nweke
Social Action, a non-governmental organization, has expressed disappointments and concerns in the way by which the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) has conducted the process of the Ogoni clean-up.
While addressing members of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the media in their office in Port Harcourt on the theme Amplifying Premium Times Investigative Report On Ogoni Clean Up, Mrs Vivian Bellonwu- Okafor, the national spokesperson of the organization, spoke in disturbing language.
She said Social Action has followed with keen interest, Government’s actions and efforts on the implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report on the assessment of hydrocarbon pollution of Ogoni environment and has observed that the procedure for award of contracts by HYPREP is not transparent.
According to her, most of the contractors are not qualified as they do not meet up the Pre-Qualifications criteria of HYPREP for contractors and such situation may affect negatively the clean-up in Ogoni land.
She said; “We are particularly concerned about the clean up in Ogoni because it is like a pilot project that will serve as a model for the clean-up of other Niger Delta oil-polluted sites and as such, HYPREP has a duty to be proactively transparent,it does not have to wait for CSOs, media or other stakeholders to demand from it, framework for the clean-up of Ogoni land”.
She stated that as a result of seeming lack of transparency and accountability, Social Action wrote to HYPREP requesting three things in line with the Freedom of Information (FOI) act 2001, which include:
1. Ogoni Clean Up Implementation Frame Work
2. List of 21 Contractors so far awarded the Ogoni clean –up, contractors jobs, indicating lots, job types, specifications
3. Details on emergency measures (including the livelihood projects) so far done towards the clean-up, so far provided by HYPREP in line with the 2011 UNEP report
Another Staff of Social Action, Kpalap Sebastian said: “Social Action works with media partner on anti-corruption projects that take the task of going into in-depth findings. Premium Times has come out with the findings; We are now bringing it to the public.
Mr Kpalap revealed that most communities in Ogoni land are beginning to get agitated due to lack of transparency and accountability by HYPREP. He advised the body to do the right thing.
Arochukwu Paul Ogbonna in his response stated that there is a procedure to follow in FOI act if HYPREP declines to respond to the letter written to the organization by Social Action.
He further added that the FOI will create a platform for Advocacy.
TPCN revealed that Social Action raised 5 major concerns which include:
1. Identification of Polluters SHELL and NNPC as the agent of clean-up which may affect the process negatively.
2. No legislation backing HYPREP
3. The relationship between HYPREP and other Federal Government agencies responsible for clean-up is not clearly defined
4. Exclusion of Civil Societies from the process of implementation of UNEP report
5. No clear understanding of how the clean-up will be funded
Other stakeholders who spoke on the need for HYPREP to be more transparent include Enefaa Georgewill, Chairman Rivers Civil Society Organization, Fyneface Dumnamne, the environmentalist.