Nigerian government projects to complete the long-awaited Ogoni clean-up by 2024 according to Musa Idris, Director General of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), who also lamented that crude oil theft was gravely responsible for 70 percent of oil spillage and environmental decadence in the entire oil-rich Niger Delta region.
He said 21 contractors were currently working to clean-up Ogoniland and insisted that the exercise will be completed in 2024.
Thirty-six other contractors were currently undergoing procurement processes that will escalate the number of contractors working on the project by the end of 2019 to 57.
At a media interactive on activities of NOSDRA in Abuja, Idris added however that the set date was possible if everybody agreed to do nothing to pollute Ogoniland henceforth.
“Given that the oil companies are able to make sure that their pipelines have high integrity, there will be no equipment failure and there will be no more oil pollution by the oil companies.
“Again, we must agree that there will be no more wanton vandalism of oil facilities by Nigerians. With these variables, we can say in five years, we would have been able to clean up Ogoniland.
According to him, it is not correct to say that the clean-up will last for 25 years.
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“Even if it is the entire state that was polluted, it will not take 25 years to clean up. It will take only five years through a sequence of planning to clean up all oil impacted sites in Ogoniland because they were segmented into less impacted, medium impacted and highly impacted.”
He nonetheless explained that it may take up to 25 years to bring the land to completely restore the oil impacted places.
“If a seedling of mango enters the ground today, by the time it gets to the point where it becomes matured and you can seat under it to rest and take fresh air, it will be going to between 20 to 25 years.
“That is total restoration. Clean-up wouldn’t take time because the technology is there, the manpower is there, and the resources are there.
Idris said the four Ogoni local governments were divided into less impacted, medium-impacted and highly impacted portions adding that some contractors have achieved between 25 and 30 percent completion even though the contracts were awarded early in 2019.
“Right now, the contractors are at different levels of work. Some have achieved 25 to 30 percent and they were awarded just at the beginning of this year.”
He noted that the agency, which was established by Act 15 of 2006 to implement National Oil Spill Contingency Plans have seen a restoration of thousands of polluted areas with several national and international oil companies operating in the country sanctioned for violating rules.
Idris said the attendant oil spillage mainly emanating from pipeline vandalism, crude theft, and illegal refining in Nigeria’s oil industry has come with advance consequences in terms of health, environmental pollution, huge amounts used to repair or replace vandalized oil facilities as well as billions of naira being used now to clean up the area.
“NOSDRA has found it worthwhile to expand the scope of efforts to wrestle down such criminal activities by articulating measures that go beyond law enforcement and security maintenance,” he stated.