Outraged by the abysmal failure of the Nigerian government to appropriately implement the recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on the cleanup of the environmental pollution caused by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Ogoni leaders have demanded the comprehensive overhaul, rejigging and restructuring of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) across all levels of the current nested structure.
In a World Press Conference on Monday, September 7, in Port Harcourt, the Ogoni nation spoke with one voice through its apex intellectual body, Gbo Kabaari Ogoni, led by Sen. (Dr) Bennett Birabi (Chair), Dr. Desmond Nbete (Secretary) and Dr. Ledum Mitee (Publicity), against the implementing agency, HYPREP, as well as the entire process.
According to the body, “UNEP in a recent Report pointed to the fundamental failure of HYPREP. From an organizational point of view, UNEP noted that ‘HYPREP is not designed, nor structured, to implement a project as complex and sizable as the Ogoniland cleanup’.”
The body regretted the absence of appropriate legislation backing the establishment and operation of the HYPREP, which currently exist only at the pleasure of Nigeria’s authoritarian ruler, President Muhammadu Buhari.
It consequently demanded the establishment of a more viable body that is backed by legislation to will carry out the Ogoni environmental cleanup exercise.
Speaking further on behalf of the Ogoni people, the body regretted that the nested failure of HYPREP as itemized by both the UNEP and Amnesty International et all corroborates its position on the Project.
The body added that they have always made their positions known that the recommendations of the UNEP Report should be implemented transparently and will continue to do so.
They further stated that the opacity of HYPREP’s activities, and the histrionics of its inefficiencies, is at complete variance with the recommendations of the UNEP report as well as global best practice.
The leaders further lamented that rather than address these issues which they have raised repeatedly, and which other reputable organizations have corroborated, HYPREP has unfortunately invested much of the time and resources at its disposal in media propaganda.
“Ogoni people need their land remediated, not the unending ‘radio remediation’. As elders, we will not compromise the health of our people, and the non-implementation of these emergency measures amounts to deliberately undermining the health and wellbeing of Ogoni people, and indeed all residents of Ogoniland.
“Once again, we restate our commitment to support any genuine cleanup process to succeed; but that can only happen when the right thing is done. The reason for our numerous interventions is to help the process succeed,” they added.