iThe Environment Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has demanded the immediate commencement of the clean up of Ogoniland according to the recommendation of the United Nations Environmental Programme.
The group also presented its annual “ No progress report “ on the implementation of the UNEP report with the verdict of the seventh series being that there was still no progress on the clean up exercise as recommended by UNEP.
The NGO which described all claims of the Federal Government and its agencies on the remediation exercise as smokescreen condemned the delay and continous shift on the date of the commencement of the exericise.
The Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo, who spoke to journalists at the ERA’s one-day programme on the ‘Implementation of UNEP Report and Clean-up of Ogoni’ held on Friday in Port Harcourt, regretted that the uncertainties of the government on the commencement of date of the cleanup process portrays insincerity on the government side on the exercise.
The Executive Director said; “Ogoni cleanup has become something of a smokescreen and this is agitating the minds 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 peoples hope was dashed, 2017 peoples’ raised up hope again was dashed.
“Now in 2018, we expected that cleanup would have started since January, but HYPREP and government officials are giving conflicting cleanup dates, and this is very frustrating. The Minister of Environment had said that the cleanup would 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 with 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?,” he queried.
Dr Ojo further stated; “Government should show sincerity and demonstrate seriousness, the cleanup should not amount to betrayal and deception of the Ogoni people. Our 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.’’
He also noted that there was 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”, Dr Ojo stressed.
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