From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
The Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth, Nigeria, (ERA/FoE) in conjunction with Global Livelihood Alliance and the Head, Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, HRM .King Godwin Gininwa, have urged the Ogoni people to ensure a peaceful implementation of the cleanup of the area by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, (HYPREP),.
The civil society groups and the Monarch made this call when they led a team of environmental activists and journalists to various cleanup sites in Tai Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The Programme Manager of ERA, Mike Karikpo, who led the team to Ogoni after a successful training of journalists in Port Harcourt on “Environment Reporting” noted that lack of transparency, non inclusiveness by HYPREP triggered the crisis and rejection it faced.
According to him, ” Lack of transparency leads to lack of trust and that is what is happening between HYPREP and the Ogoni people. The whole process suppose to be transparent, open to all to see and monitor but where there is no information, no concrete detail of what you are doing in the people’s land, you will not get the needed support from them”.
“The Ogoni clean up is a new process, it has not been done anywhere else in Nigeria , it has to be participatory, transparent, the people need to know who the contractors are, their work plan, their based etc”
He however called on the people of Ogoniland to give HYPREP a chance to carry on with the exercise
He blamed the challenges faced by HYPREP in carrying out the exercise to its lack of openness in implementing the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report, which has caused distrust and rejection of the agency by the people in some areas.
On his part, King Giniwa said, there is no need for crisis, warning that if the people fail to allow HYPREP clean up in the area, it would give the agency an edge for their lapses.
He said, “If we don’t allow HYPREP clean up Ogoniland, then they have a case against us, it will give then an edge to their profound lapses”
He reiterated that the Ogoni clean up would be a precedence to the cleaning of other states in the Niger Delta region hence; the need to give peace a chance.
He urged the agency to be transparent with its activities and also bring developmental projects to Tai Communities, regretting that the oil bearing community have been neglected and abandoned.