To achieve environmental justice in the Niger Delta region, the State and Federal Governments have been implored to strengthen coordination of the Ogoni cleanup exercise and remove any political undertone in the project.
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa said this during a regional capacity building workshop for newsmen in Lagos. The workshop was supported by CORDAID.
The CISLAC boss said the political class in the region at both state and federal levels should rise above their differences irrespective of party affiliations and enforce transparency, accountability, and patriotism in the clean-up process to bequeath a sustainable environment to the present, and future generations.
Musa declared that the recent restructuring announced by the Minister of Environment, should be unpacked, and clearly communicated to the public on specificities bothering on administration, operations, finance, procurement, and personnel.
According to him, what is paramount and significant to local communities is the provision of potable drinking water, lamenting that several scorecards on the Ogoni clean-up have scored the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) low in the implementation of both aspects of the project in terms of emergency measures and remediation.
The emergency measures he observed, are implemented in an ad-hoc manner, which undermines overall benefit to the communities.
On the remediation, he noted that the competence of the contractors; access to funds, the Ogoni context, and terrain, as well as the choice of ‘one-size-fits-all technology’, remain major challenges for contractors.
To help the remediation process, he noted that “the civil society organizations should provide project management capacity skills for HYPREP while HYPREP should validate its Key Performance Indicator (KPI) with stakeholders, particularly the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on the cleanup, and that immediate CSOs’s desk is constituted within HYPREP to share regular information with stakeholders, internal and external.”
The Conflict Advisor CISLAC/Transparency International, Mr. Salaudeen Hashim who raised concerns on re-pollution, and artisanal refining of the region, noted that re-pollution has become a major threat to successful cleanup in the Niger/Delta due to oil theft, and pipeline vandalism.
He said there was a need for an alternative livelihood plan that would be sustainable through the need assessment of the youths and other residents of the region. Failure to do this, he warned would have implications for effective contaminated land remediation.
Specifically, he stated that HYPREP could initiate collaboration with the Niger/Delta Commission, the Rivers State Government, and the Amnesty Office of the president and other private organizations to develop robust empowerment program for the youths.
He also urged the federal government to improve funding of the National Oil Spill Detection Response Agency (NOSDRA) to strengthen its monitoring capacity of oil spills and other environmental disasters as well as in providing certification on job completion of the Ogoni land clean-up project.
While HYREP has claimed 70 per cent completion of clean-up of the 21 lots approved for the first phase of the project, concerns have highlighted by stakeholders that the process has been derailed and that the $360 million deployed for the exercise hasn’t attained full capacity utilization.
Source: (The Guardian)
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