From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
To ensure transparency and success in the cleanup of Ogoni environment, an environmental organization, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has urged the federal government to rejig the Governing Council, Board of Trustees and Project Coordination Office of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP).
The Executive Director of ERA, Dr Godwin Ojo made the call on Friday, during the organization programme to mark the 2020 World Environment Day, held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Represented by Mr Michael Karikpo, Programme Manager of Port Harcourt ERA office, Dr Ojo noted that the only way the federal government can get it right in the cleanup of Ogoni environment and other polluted areas in the Niger Delta region, is by restructuring the HYPREP.
He regretted that about 90 percent of contractors allotted lots for the remediation exercise are incompetent in the work, stressing that the management of HYPREP could not justify the already released fund for the cleanup three years after the board was established.
“ERA and its allies from the civil society groups, on this auspicious occasion of the World Environment Day demands that the federal government should ensure the reinvigoration and restructure of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Coordination Office, it’s Governing Council, Board of Trustees and Project Coordination Office to ensure that it has the capacity, drive and technical ability to provide a transparent and world class cleanup process that is currently lacking.
“$360m has been released to HYPREP but the work on the sites does not worth $5 million, what we are saying is simple, HYPREP has been there for three years but they have not shown the capacity to deliever the project in technical, admistrative terms to do this job, the health audit has not been done and this is three tears, so why would you allow them to continue to remain”.
Speaking on the theme of this year’s World Environment Day “Time for Nature”, Dr Ojo stressed that “the theme draws attention to the need for collective action as groups, communities and nations to awaken the consciousness of nature protection in varied ecosystems and socio-economic development”.
Also, noting the need to develop quality, reliable and sustainable infrastructure to avoid the Earth’s tipping point and climate catastrophe, ERA urged “The federal government to stop the investment in oil and gas and invest to develop greener technologies for renewable energy such as solar and wind energies that are off-grid and mini-grids to promote energy access to all”.
Also speaking on sustainable seas and land ecosystems, Dr Ojo said “we will need to conserve and sustainably utilize the resources in our oceans, seas and other marine environment. This require that we significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds especially from plastic and toxic chemicals.
“We must take intentional actions to protect, restore and encourage the sustainable use if land and manage sustainably our forest, combat desertification and halt and reserve land degradation and biodiversity loss”, Ojo added.