From: AgroNature Admin
CIVIL Society Organisation (CSOs) in the Niger Delta has called on the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) to provide emergency supports for oil-polluted communities in the oil-rich region.
The group demanded urgent implementation of the important livelihood support system as recommended in the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report on the Ogoniland clean-up.
Some of these interventions include potable water, job creation among other needs highlighted for the implementation while actual clean-up continues simultaneously.
Emem Okon, Executive Director of the Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, speaking during a virtual meeting organised on Monday said HYPREP should expend some of the allotted money for community needs.
Okon, who was represented by Constance Meju wondered why efforts would only be on the clean-up while other responsibilities were left aside.
“HYPREP should take a second look at the UNEP report and implement. We have money to spend, we should spend it rather than using trickles,” she said.
According to her, “everything should not be on the refinery, agriculture is another area, gas is another and other skill acquisition.”
She said if HYPREP would be restructured as revealed by the Federal Ministry of Environment, government should expedite actions, stressing that the most important thing should be for a “successful clean-up story in Nigeria.”
Dr. Kabari Sam Simeon, Lecturer on Environmental Control at the Maritime University advocated for the provision of potable water.
He said for over 60 years, the federal government has explored resources in the Niger Delta for gas and oil, and from these periods, human and the ecosystem was exposed to environmental hazards.
The Varsity teacher, who also called for the autonomy of HYPREP expressed concern on the health implication of consumer water from the oil-polluted stream.
His words: “The main thing is to prevent cancer villages in Ogoni. They have been taking benzene polluted water. Even though baby steps have been taken in terms of public awareness, HYPREP needs to provide portable water for the people.”
Though Simeon applauded the HYPREP for the public sensitisation, he said more needs to be done in terms of the emergency interventions as recommended by the UNEP.
He alleged some of the contractors are incompetent as they allegedly agreed to deliver on the site remediation in six months – a deadline, Simeon emphasised was unrealistic.
In his remark, Fyneface Dumnamene, Executive Director of Youth and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC) said there is a link between artisanal refineries and pollution of the Ogoni environment.
He dissected the UNEP report establishing expectations of HYPREP in the area of awareness creation, operation recommendation, environmental restoration to mention but few.
Dumnamene, however, claimed that four years after the project kick-started, issues of artisanal mining are yet to be addressed.
“We noted that out of the $1billion for the first five years of Ogoni Clean-Up, HYPREP had received $360million and out of which, HYPREP said it has spent just about $44million in the past four years,” he noted.
“Thus, if HYPREP said it has spent only about $44million in the past four years out of the $360million it has so far received then, it would take HYPREP till 2042; about extra 22 years more of spending $44million every four years before it would be able to exhaust the remaining $956million and complete the first phase of Clean-Up that UNEP.”
As part of efforts to ensure the project achieves its objective, Dumnamene appealed to HYPREP to implement the modular refinery project.
He said HYPREP should create alternative employment for youths involved in artisanal refining activities as also recommended by UNEP.
“These HYPREP can do by supporting ongoing efforts as already requested on them for the sensitization of the youths, registration of Cooperative Societies and acquisition of Modular Refinery licenses for artisanal refiners in Ogoni;
“HYPREP should send some Ogoni artisanal refiners for training and skills acquisition preparatory for employability under the NLNG Train 7 Project in Bonny for which other Niger Delta youths are undertaking and for which the request had already been made by some artisanal refiners to HYPREP.”