Extends auditing of HYPREP account to cleanup, remediation work done, Group tells Buhari
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the auditing accounts of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remedial Project (HYPREP) to cleanup and remediation work done by the agency.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had given ordered for the auditing of the account of the agency since its inception in 2016 till date.
Uyi Ojo, the executive director of the foremost environmental civil organisation, made the call in Benin City at the formal presentation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) assessment report and HYPREP’s performance scorecard to pressmen and members of the civil organisations affiliates of the organisation.
Uyi also urged the president not to allow the directive to go the way of the audited Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) that is currently in a long-drawn-out process on the work of the commission.
He advocated that the auditing should be conducted by an independent audit of the projects and activities implemented so far by HYPREP that will be available to the public.
While describing the President Buhari’s directive as laudable, he added some analysis in the media on HYPREP are only for the consumption of the governing council of the agency.
He opined that if the Nigerian government, the Ogoni people and her partners are going to request the international community to support the continuation of the remedial and restoration exercise, there must be transparency and accountability in the way the initial $1billion fund was utilized.
He opined that if the Nigerian government, the Ogoni people and her partners are going to request the international community to support the continuation of the remedial and restoration exercise, there must be transparency and accountability in the way the initial $1billion fund was utilised.
“The payment of $1billion for cleanup and remediation in the first five years in a cleanup that will last 25-30years. The agreement between the federal government and Shell Petroleum Development on one hand and the Ogoni community on the other hand other was for the contributing stakeholders to pay $200million yearly for the initial five year.
“But for four years after the project launched only $360 million has been paid as confirmed by NNPC during a public hearing at the House of Representatives in Abuja in 2020. There is no update on whether further transfers had been made for 2021 and 2022,” he said.
The ERA/FoEN boss, however, urged stakeholders to remain vigilant to ensure that the directive does not become counterproductive and an unwelcome distraction from the remediation and restoration work that must take place in Ogoniland.
ERA/FoEN, who also described the appointment of Ferdinand Giadom, as the new coordinator of (HYPREP) project, noted that the appointment was right peg in round hole, as he was an integral part of the UNEP team that conducted the Ogoni environmental assessment study.
He called on the new coordinator to deliver (HYPREP) from the brink of disaster, rekindle the hope of the people of Ogoniland and the Niger Delta people that have been dashed by the previous coordinators.
He appealed that he should work more closely with Ogoni people and civil groups to overcome the challenges HYPREP is currently facing.
Ojo lamented that since 1993 over 4,000 Ogoni patriots have paid the supreme sacrifices and several others have become internally displaced or refugees in exile.
He added that the Ogoni people, civil groups and the international community should be concerned that HYPREP’s intervention in the land maybe shut down once the initial $1billion fund for the cleanup has been exhausted.
He opined that as a Federal Government environmental legacy project and electioneering campaign promises since 2014, the Ogoniland cleanup was too important to fail, and that every step must be taken to set it on course for success and reverse the negative trend of hope betrayed.
The group described as total failure of HYPREP and the contracting firms that were awarded the contracts to clean up the Niger Delta and Ogoniland.
He pointed out that the contracting firms lacked the necessary expertise and experience to undertake the job like remediation, cleanup and restoration of the Ogoniland.