Press Release | Ogoni clean-up is not progressing satisfactorily

  • Nothing on ground in Ogoniland to show that cleanup can commence in August
SOCIAL ACTION joins the rest of the world to mark June 5, 2018 World
Environment Day with the theme “Beat Plastic Pollution”. We therefore
wish to use this opportunity to react to some statements on
environmental issues in Nigeria especially those bordering on the
Ogoni/Niger Delta Cleanup.
Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) has been
monitoring the Niger Delta environment and the implementation of UNEP
Report on Ogoniland since 2007 and in 2014 and 2016 published two
monitoring reports on the Ogoni Cleanup. They are titled; “STILL
POLLUTED” and “CLEANING IN A VACCUM”.
It is against these backgrounds that Social Action welcomes the
statement credited to the Coordinator of the Hydrocarbon Pollution
Remediation Project (HYPREP), Dr. Marvin Dekil during a medical
outreach in Taabaa Community on April 21, 2018 that the Ogoni cleanup
would start in August 2018. The Minister of State for Environment, Mr.
Jubril Usman was also quoted by the media during a briefing in Abuja
to mark 2018 World Environment Day as saying that the cleanup would
start by ending of August 2018.  It is however worrisome and
contradictory to also hear the same HYPREP Coordinator told Al Jazeera
in an interview in his office, a month later on May 18, 2018 that the
Ogoni cleanup would start in September and not the August that he told
the public earlier.
While Social Action is not against the immediate commencement of the
Ogoni cleanup after 7years of the release of the UNEP report on August
4, 2011 and 2years after the flag-off on June 2, 2016, the
organization is however worried that the Federal Ministry of
Environment and HYPREP are not prepared for the cleanup and therefore
on a mission to “Cleaning in a Vacuum”.
We have doubt that HYPREP can undertake any credible and successful
cleanup that meets international standard in August 2018 or even its
new timeline of September 2018 when certain UNEP recommended
preliminary steps have not been taken and the necessary facilities are
not yet in place in Ogoniland.
Our field monitoring report shows that HYPREP is not yet prepared for
Ogoni cleanup even by December 2018 because the following UNEP Report
recommendations are not yet in in place. They are;
1.    Absent of Contaminated Soil Treatment Centre: This centre
recommended by UNEP and its foundation laid by former Minister of
Environment (current Deputy Secretary General of the UN), Amina
Muhammed in February 2017 has been abandoned by HYPREP since Amina
left office. This site located in Bori-Ogoniland is currently
overgrown with weeds and we wonder how HYPREP intends to carry out the
cleanup exercise without this vital facility in place.
2.    Absence of Centre of Excellence: This Centre was recommended by
UNEP and its foundation also laid by Amina Muhammed on February 27,
2017 with the planting of a tree but till date, the location in Bori
is covered with weeds and we are wondering how clean up can happen
without this fundamental facility in place.
3.    Failure to Implement Emergency Measures: The emergency measures
recommended by UNEP to precede the cleanup has not been implemented.
This include provision of portable drinking water, Health Audit, etc.
4.    Reneging on Promise to Re-assess of Oil Contaminated Sites, etc.:
HYREP had said in the past that plans to re-assess contaminated sites
in Ogoni to determine the currently level of pollution after UNEP
Report in 2011 was partly responsible for the delay of the Ogoni
cleanup. To address these, HYPREP made publications in national
newspapers in 2017 calling for expression of interest by competent
companies to carry out the re-assessment of sites assessed by UNEP and
those not assessed by UNEP. HYPREP also went further in the said call
for expression of interest and advertised for companies that would
handle the provision of drinking water, assessment of water facilities
in Ogoniland and health audit of the Ogoni people whom UNEP said had
lived with pollution all their lives. It would however interest you to
know that, till date, HYPREP has not awarded contract to any company
to reassess polluted sites in Ogoniland that they claimed was partly
responsible for the delay of the Ogoni cleanup but has gone ahead to
advertise again in 2018; called for expression of interest, opened bid
and ‘preparing’ to award contracts for the commencement of its mirage
cleanup in August 2018.
5.    Refusal to publish cleanup implementation work plan: Since the
Flag-off of the Ogoni Cleanup exercise on June 2, 2016, HYPREP has
failed to publish the cleanup implementation framework/wok plan. We
(Social Action) also wrote and officially requested for the work plan
but HYPREP refused to release the document if it exists.
We therefore dismiss claims by HYPREP that it would be able to start
Ogoni cleanup in August 2018 with a wave of the hand because these
pivotal facilities are not yet in place, excepts HYPREP is on a
mission to impress the political class ahead of the 2019 general
elections by cleaning in a vacuum.
HYPREP’s constant reneging on promises and shifting of goal posts for
the commencement of the Ogoni cleanup is causing more harm to the
Ogoni people who live in the polluted environment, breathe polluted
air, drink oil polluted water and dying in their numbers over the
environmental poisons.
We call on HYPREP to lay a solid foundation for a sustainable
commencement of the Ogoni cleanup by implementing the emergency
measures, constructing the Contaminated Soil Treatment Centre, Centre
of Excellence, etc.
Besides, Social Action takes the recent directive by President
Muhamadu Buhari for funds to be released for the Ogoni cleanup with a
pinch of salt because similar statement was made in August 2015 to
“Fast Track” the cleanup and this is where we are today still
advocating for the cleanup to happen. We would have however taken Mr.
President Statement more seriously if the President had made direct
budgetary provisions for Ogoni cleanup in the 2018 Appropriation Bill.
With the reverse as the case, we wonder where the funds that the
President had directed to be released would come from.
These are indications and realities on ground in Ogoniland to show
that the Ogoni cleanup is not “progressing satisfactorily” as stated
by President Muhammadu Buhai, GCFR in his May 29, 2018 Democracy Day
speech and that there is nothing on ground in Ogoniland to show that
HYPREP is prepared to carry out cleanup in Ogoniland in August 2018.
Signed,
Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface,
Research/Progamme Officer, Social Action
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