Thursday 19th October, 2017
Translate Language:::
Share

Ogoni Clean Up: Environmental right activists, stakeholders insist on speedy and transparent exercise

Ogoni Clean Up: Environmental right activists, stakeholders insist on speedy and transparent exercise

Having witnessed the official flag off of the much hyped Ogoni clean up exercise, the Ogoni people are yet to see any concrete effort at the clean up process WILLIE ETIM writes that environmental right activists and other stakeholders are calling for a speedy and transparent exercise as the people are eager to experi­ence the impact of the exercise.
As Nigerians awaits the eventful kick of the Ogoni clean-up, a group, the Af­rican Centre for Leadership, Strat­egy and Development (ACLSD) and other environmental right activists, have urged the federal government and other authori­ties involved in the clean-up of Ogoniland to speed up the imple­mentation of the exercise.
This was part of the recom­mendation in a communiqué issued at the end of a One-Day Policy Dialogue on Achieving a Healthy and Sustainable Environ­ment in the Niger Delta, held in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The one day policy dialogue was held against the backdrop of addressing the challenges of environmental governance and related issues in the Niger delta region which the group observed was caused by the activities of the multinational oil companies oper­ating there.
The Region has been drained over the past 5decades with maxi­mum disregard for the environ­ment and basic principles of sus­tainable resource governance in Nigeria.
Participants at the one day dia­logue were drawn from host com­munities, government agencies, environmentalists, civil society groups, academia, and the media.
Participants at the dialogue had noted with grave concern the level of environmental degrada­tion which they said is rampant in the region, with particular ref­erence to the UNEP report that was initiated over twelve years ago in 2005 by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The dialogue noted that the multifarious expectations from the clean-up process, remediation and compensation for lost liveli­hoods are quite high given the impression of failed expectations by government and the oil com­panies.
However, it identified that a good starting point is environ­mental governance in the Niger Delta. With good environmental governance in place, major stake­holders like Government, oil com­panies, communities and Civil society groups and academia will perform better to ensure a healthy, well monitored clean-up process which will ultimately eliminate conflict and environment entre­preneurs who feed on the crisis in the Niger Delta.
While commending the federal government for the launch of the Ogoni clean-up process after a period of lull and for setting up the governing framework, the fol­lowing observations were made as causes for continuous degradation in the area; “Lack of sensitization of the community on policies of environmental governance as it relates to oil exploration activities, no comprehensive environmental laws to promote sustainable use of natural resources, Stakeholders are not aware of their roles in the environmental policy documents
Also listed was the govern­ment’s equity contributions to the joint venture which has never been known, communication gaps between the people, the government and Oil Company, regulation agencies are not well equip to enforce compliance with full implementation of all envi­ronmental legislation and cor­ruption from the side of the tradi­tional leaders after they have been bought over.”
As recommendation the group said “regulatory agencies should be strengthened to be independ­ent, as it will make them manage the environment more effectively. Health audit/assessment of the Niger Delta region should be car­ried out to ascertain the emer­gence of any disease associated with oil pollution.
“As the National Assembly is commended for the passage of a section of the PIB ,other compo­nents such as the host commu­nity funds should also be passed immediately as a right step to environmental governance, the environmental laws /policies should be made available in our local languages to enable local dwellers understand the applica­tions properly. There should be sensitization of communities on policies of environmental govern­ance. There should be a holistic review of the environmental laws to produce a comprehensive envi­ronmental policy document and that the Ogoni cleanup process should be fast tracked and should be more transparent as it has been observed that there is little or no communication from HYPREP.”
According to the report ante­cedents of artisanal refineries should be tackled seriously as the cleanup commences so the efforts will not be in vain.
The Executive Director of Cen­tre LSD, Dr Otive Igbuzor, in his welcome address, said the pur­pose of the policy dialogue was to provide a platform for a multi stakeholder interaction on pro­moting good environmental gov­ernance in the Niger Delta using the implementation of the UNEP report as entry point.
Dr Otive who regretted the de­lay in the cleanup exercise said “the Niger Delta region occupies a cen­tral place in the political economy of Nigeria. The region remains the mainstay of the Nigerian economy despite the fall in the global price of oil in the last few years. But un­fortunately, as a result of oil explo­ration and exploitation, the Niger Delta physical, political, social and moral environment has been completely destroyed. The liveli­hood of the people have been de­stroyed and the region is in crisis with high levels of insecurity, cult activities, bringadage, kidnapping and unwarranted killings.”
He said the response of govern­ment to the crisis in the Niger Delta characterized by legal re­sponse, military response, project response and agency response have failed to arrest the under­development and environmental degradation of the region.
He therefore, argued that any approach for the development of the Niger Delta must focus on three issues: human development, Justice and equity. He stressed that it is within the context that the Centre conceived the Project on achieving a healthy and sustain­able environment in the Niger Delta.
Prof Fidelis Allen, in brief pres­entation had observed that when it comes to environmental gov­ernance in the Niger Delta region, the government, Oil companies and local communities are easily implicated in the lack of full im­plementation of environmental policies.

 

SHARE ON: