CISLAC decries alleged politicization of Ogoni clean up exercise

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By: Bamidele Fashube 

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, (CISLAC), has decried the level of alleged politicization surrounding the Ogoni clean-up exercise.

It said four years after the federal government (FG) had flagged off the clean-up exercise, little has been achieved.

Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Musa spoke during a media parley organized by CISLAC in partnership with Cordaid.

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His words: “Although a framework for a definite intervention was provided in 2011 through a report by the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP, the issues surrounding contaminated land, groundwater, surface water, sediment, vegetation, air pollution, public health, and industry practice are yet unresolved, thus endangering the lives of millions of hapless citizens in the area.”

He stated that the incidence of oil spill has affected human health and other receptors including land, air, and water resources, leading to extensive socio-economic and cultural impacts on local communities in the area.

According to him, a field assessment work had stopped on the sites long before the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

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“Some lots had stopped work between September 2019 and January 2020, reportedly over lack of payments, while others are still active, with reduced staff capacity. There have been increased protests by workers on sites.

“Evidence also exists that workers have not been paid because contractors have not been paid too. While contractors lobby to be paid, others have locked their sites and embarked on ‘no pay no work. What this means is that the institutional issues, as well as recommendations and steps to be followed in carrying out the exercise, have become victims of senseless politicking”, he said.

While countering claims by Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project(HYPREP) on 70 per cent completion of the project’s  first phase, he said the claims are “hasty and premature”.

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“It is difficult to understand the reason for indebtedness given that HYPREP has no funding challenge. In the midst of all these, HYPREP had claimed 70 per cent completion of the project.

“This claim is hasty and largely premature. The Minister of Environment had recently announced some restructuring. We demand a clear position of what is up for restructuring and why such a claim seems to be stalled since it was announced at FEC.

“We however cannot allow the people who are adversely affected by this to be groaning in pains. People of Ogoni can still not breathe.”

To this end, the centre called on the Rivers State Governor to support the  project.

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Similarly, CISLAC Conflict Adviser, Salaudeen Hashim, said 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 a significant risk to the achievement of the overall project’s goal.

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