Govt not sincere about Ogoni cleanup - activists

Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), has urged the Federal Government to  implement the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Report on Ogoniland.

Executive Director of ERA/FoEN Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo spoke at a news briefing/stakeholders’ review meeting on the ‘Implementation of UNEP Report and Clean-up of Ogoni’ in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital yesterday.

The event was in recognition of release of the August 4, 2011, UNEP Report on Environmental Pollution in Ogoniland and its recommendation for a cleanup.

“The flag off  for the cleanup project was held  in 2016 amid high expectations by all and sundry, especially  Ogoni people that the process will start immediately,  however between then and date,  nothing meaningful has been done or could be said to be on the offering regarding the actual exercise, including the emergency  measure provisions recommended by the report as alternative for the people to mark the commencement of the project has been implemented until date, as the state of the environment and it’s inhabitants continues to grow worse,” ERA said.

Regretting the insincerity of the Federal Government,  Dr. Ojo, in the statement, entitled,  ‘Smokescreen of clean up,  no more delays,  cleanup Ogoni now,” said the body language of the Federal Government showed falsehood,  deception and lack of seriousness.

He said: “Ogoni cleanup has become something of a smokescreen and this is agitating the mind of many Nigerians, including the restive Ogoni people, who want justice to be done.

“What is critical at this point is that government should, as a matter of urgency, clarify when the actual cleanup will commence. In 2016, people’s hopes were dashed. They were dashed again last year.

“Now, in 2018, we expected that the cleanup would have started since January, but HYPREP, government officials are giving conflicting cleanup date, and this is very frustrating.

‘’The minister of Environment had said that the cleanup will commence in August, yet another government official from the Presidency, Dr Edobor Iyamu, said the cleanup will commence in December. And here we have the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, saying that the resumption of oil production is a pre-condition for the cleanup.

“These are really agitating the minds of Nigerians, leaving them no choice but to conclude that the cleanup is a smokescreen. So, when will the cleanup commence and when will the first drop of oil be cleaned from Ogoni.”

However, Dr Ojo further urged that “government should show sincerity and demonstrate seriousness, the cleanup should not amount to betrayal and deception of the Ogoni people. Our acting government should be responsive enough to live up it promises, especially in relation to the cleanup process. We understand the pitfalls and problems the HYPREP is facing, but the fund has been released. And the little fund that has been released is being used for Overhead and infrastructure. That is not what people want to hear. People want to hear and see that cleanup has started.

“There is alot of variation between the UNEP report recommendations and the cleanup itself as being proposed by HYPREP. The relief emergency measures have been jettisoned, is not being carried out.”

The alternative to water, alternative sources to livelihood have not been provided. So, these are problematic issues and it look as if the questions of the Minority people, the Niger Deltans in Nigeria as a whole remains a critical issue to be revisited.”Ojo stressed.