Controversy trails $1bn Ogoni cleanup project

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A leading international advocacy organisation on environment, Environmental Rights Action (Friends of the Earth), has faulted the ongoing $1 billion Ogoni cleanup exercise in the Niger Delta. It said the lack on seriousness on the part of the government is a major threat to its completion.
Executive director of the organisation, Godwin Uyi Ojo, while briefing newsmen on Thursday in Abuja, said the agency of government handling the project, Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), is yet to define clear parameters on how it intends to execute the project, despite the availability of over $100 million at its disposal.
Mr. Ojo called on the National Assembly to step in by directing its relevant committees to provide oversight functions on the cleanup.
He said proper oversight function by the National Assembly will prevent the dissipation of public revenue and stop the eventual failure of the project which was flagged off by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
He said: “The National Assembly should urgently intervene in the Ogoni cleanup process by directing appropriate committees to provide oversight functions on the clean up process.
“In particular, unqualified contractors were procured for the clean up, and lacking a robust Key Performance Indicators to measure the quality of remediation.
“National Assembly oversight function will prevent the dissipation of public revenue and at this early stage and halt the drift of HYPREP towards the fate of similar laudable interventions in the Niger Delta that went into private pockets instead of addressing the needs of the people and the environment.
“The national assembly should adopt the HYPREP gazette and rework it with appropriate modifications and pass it into law to provide legislator backing with independent status. This will ensure a more robust and legally binding supervision of HYPREP and the funds committed to it.
“While we urge the early release of the US$600 million due to it by 2020, HYPREP failed to demonstrate capacity to spend thereby requiring an overhaul.
“To re-iterate, if urgent and decisive action is not taken to refocus HYPREP we may have another white elephant intervention in the Niger Delta region like others before it that have failed to turn the fortunes of the region around for the good of long suffering communities in the region.
“In a nutshell, the structure and operations of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation project (HYPREP) should be urgently reviewed by the National Assembly to ensure proper oversight of its activities.”
However, zonal director of National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Mr. Cyrus Nkangwung, while reacting to some of the allegations, said the selection of contractors followed due process.
He said: “The process that brought the contractors was transparent. Maybe some things may have gone wrong, but I think they were selected with the best intentions. We will look at issues raised and see how we can step in.”