CISLAC slams Niger Delta leaders for politicising cleanup of Ogoniland

Group photograph of participants at the CISLAC meeting with CSOs and Journalists in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, held on Tuesday.

From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and its allies have expressed concern over the level of politicking that has enveloped the entire cleanup process of Ogoniland.

The group noted that the process which was conceived to restore, remediate and rehabilitate the people of Ogoni and the Niger Delta region as a whole, is gradually becoming a mirage.

Speaking at a one day CSOs strategy meeting and media parley organised in Port Harcourt, by CISLAC with support from CORDAID, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, Executive Director of CISLAC, warned the Niger Delta leaders to desist from toiling with the lives of people in the region in the name of politics.

He wondered how the federal Ministry of Environment and Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) would announced 70% completion of Ogoni remediation process with no evidence to claims.

The CISLAC boss also condemned the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) for not living up to its statutory responsibility in monitoring the remediation process, hence , the false claim of completion of the project.

He further advised the Rivers state government to support in ensuring the possibility of the UNEP recommendations by providing portable safe drinkable water for the affected communities in Ogoni and not rely on the federal government alone.

He said “HYPREP is not lacking fund, why is the project facing delays and bottlenecks. In other projects it is about no money, this time there is money. You are not paying the people who are doing the work and then you claimed you have achieved 70% of the project, with which money then? Let us be scientific please.

“Beyond the federal government, what role has the Rivers State government played in ensuring the sustainability of the gains of the remediation project or the provision of portable drinkable water. That is why we are saying the Rivers state government must stop, they had to save lives and ensure that the right things are done.

“The people in the Niger Delta and Rivers state have continued to suffer in silence because of politics. I think politicians in the Niger Delta must change tactics, they should not be compromising the lives of the people in the region because of politics. If you have any thing that you had to settle your scores don’t do it at the expense of the entire people.

“If HYPREP could score itself on the implementation of the emergency measures rather than pursuant of the cleanup exercise, this is because the motive of the UNEP report was that the implementation of the emergency measures should proceed remediation. What is paramount and significant to the local communities is the provision of portable safe drinkable water.

“Several scorecards on the Ogoni clean-up has scored HYPREP lower on the implementation of both aspects of the project – emergency measures and remediation. The emergency measures are implemented in an adhoc manner which undermines overall benefit to the communities.

Similarly, the environmental remediation aspect of the project and associated critical infrastructure required for effective contaminated land remediation are yet to be developed, and thus pose significant risk to the achievement of the overall project goal. Of the 8 elements on the emergency measures, only public awareness of the project has been attempted. Even that has been weak and ineffective following the weak strategy adopted by HYPREP”.

Musa further stated that HYPREP’s competence and understanding of UNEP’s recommendations is perceived as a challenge for the success of the project.

He therefore demanded that “an immediate review be conducted by the UNEP team alongside independent stakeholders to access progress made drawing indicators from the UNEP report that State and Federal Government coordination on the project should be strengthened and remove any political undertone in this people oriented project”.

In his presentation on a paper titled “HYPREP’s 70% completion claims- Unraveling the state of the mediation project”, Dr Kabari Sam, an environmentalist, asked if “UNEP has provided some capacity building for the project for the last one year. Can HYPREP publish UNEP’s perception of their success?

“Is there a blueprint for livelihood restoration that covers all facets of stakeholders and impacted communities in Ogoniland?

“Three years into project implementation, when would water be provided in impacted communities. Does HYPREP have a blueprint for addressing re-pollution from un-serviced assets and artisanal refining activities?”

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