At last, a strong voice with huge inside knowledge has called for the restructuring of the key agency for the implementation of the much-touted Ogoni clean up. The voice belongs to an NGO that is said to be an appointed observer in the agency expected to raise alarm when things begin to deviate. Now, he has raised the alarm.
A Non-Governmental Organization, under the aegis of Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), has called for the restructuring, reorganizing and complete overhauling of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) for the realisation of Ogoniland clean up.
Godwin Uyi Ojo, executive director of the group made the call at a press conference and launch of a global report on Ogoni clean up, titled, “No clean up, No Justice” on Thursday in Benin City.
Ojo said the call became necessary following the alleged lack of capacity by the agency to conduct a proper clean of a huge project such as Ogoni clean up.
According to him, for the clean up to succeed at a greater pace, we urge the federal government to urgently reorganize and completely overhaul HYPREP apparatus to ensure that it is able to deliver a truly significant clean up in Ogoniland.
“Based on regular field monitoring and evidence at our disposal, we have come to the conclusion that the federal government environmental legacy project which is the clean up of Ogoni, is failing and lagging behind because the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) lacks the capacity to conduct a proper clean up.
“HYPREP is not designed nor structured to implement a project as complex and sizeable as the Ogoniland clean up”, he said. He did not explain the new structure the agency should take and areas of change apart from seeking for a system that would create transparency..
Ojo, who also called on the federal government and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to institute N100 billion rehabilitation fund for the cleanup of the entire Niger Delta, however, called for the introduction of legislation to strengthen and make HYPREP truly independent, transparent and accountable.
While opining that the group hinged its report on visit to 17 of the 21 clean up sites between March and April 2020 noted that the 21 sites being currently cleaned up by HYPREP covered only a fraction and about 11 per cent of the total area identified by United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP).
He, however, alleged that HYPREP was yet to make requisition for the $200 million due for 2020 from the $360million received and that it had only spent $31million partly due to Shell’s overbearing powers on its structures.
“Oil companies like Shell should have no role in the oversight bodies, management and implementation of the process such as the governing board and the Board of Trustees, and should not second staff to HYPREP.
“In order to address its devastating legacy of pollution in Nigeria, Shell should also pay for clean up of the rest of the Niger Delta and compensate communities affected by its activities.
“We call for a global binding treaty to hold corporations accountable for their human rights violations and environmental harm which the polluted Ogoniland amply demonstrates”, he added.