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NIGER DELTA: ERA laments delays in Ogoni cleanup

Nine years after the August 4, 2011 recommendation for the cleanup of Ogoni land through the report of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN)  has lamented the litany of failures and discontent trailing the cleanup process through the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP).
Briefing the press in Benin City,  civil society groups
that double as non state actors and the public lamented the litany of failures and season of discontent with the process thus far.
While presenting the magazine, “Performance indicators for the Ogoni Clean-Up,”  a  guide line for managers and technical partners to expand capacity at putting in  place certain requirements which would boost output and efficiency in the cleanup process, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, ERA/FoEN  condemned the “Litany of failures and season of discontent,” 
Lampooning HYPREP for conducting a media whitewash and peddling of falsehood which add no value to the cleanup process, he advocated for the establishment of a cleanup and remediation fund of a hundred billion United State’s dollars (US$100 billion) for the cleanup of the entire Niger Delta region and the compensation of communities and individuals directly affected by over fifty (50) years of oil extraction.
With a seventy percent (70%) cleanup work by HYPREP  and initial twenty one (21) less complex sites handed over to contractors in January 2019, haven been given a six months timeline for execution of cleanup, he observed that things are still at a near standstill as HYPREP is not structured or designed to implement a project as complex  and sizeable as the Ogoni Clean-Up process.
He frowned at and sued for the setting up of an independent verification mechanism to evaluate the remediation work by contractors to meet with set parameters in order to get accurate toxicity results on soil pollution to get accurate results as well as halt present allegations that laboratories where samples are analyzed are either owned by contractors engaged in the cleanup and remediation process or top management of HYPREP.
He asserted that there was an inherent conflict of interest based on the open and significant role and influence exercised by Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC) in charting the cleanup direction and speed haven been implicated in the majority of oil spills that have devastated the region.
He called for the outright removal of SPDC from the process haven entrenched itself in all the oversight bodies such as the governing council, board of trustees and day to day operations of the HYPREP project compounded by the fact that its former staff presently man’s HYPREP key projects.
 He therefore called for the setting up of a multi stakeholder process to jointly define and determine success indicators and key performance indicators for the Ogoni Clean-Up process. He called on governments of the United Kingdom and Netherlands to put legislation in place mandating its companies to respect human rights and apply same environmental standards across its global operations.
Mr. Austin Osakue of the Foundation for good governance called on UNEP to take notice of Organizational key performance indicators (KPI’s) ERA/FoEN and the coalition of  civil society groups had put out, to help guide HYPREP’s organizational performance, evaluation, level of transparency and accountability, regulatory mechanism and even its legal framework.
He said it should take notice of the environmental implications (health and livelihood of Ogoni people and the removal of hydrocarbons/chemicals (pollutants); Livelihood performance (which looks at point of degradation/livelihood of people as per making clean drinking water available for the people amidst other parameters.
 
There was a robust question and answer session with the plea for the Federal government to step up at addressing and stopping present disparities which have stalled the cleanup process.
 Dr. Uyi Ojo, Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) and Mr. Austin Osakue of the Foundation for good governance singing solidarity songs while briefing on the slow cleanup process of Ogoni land