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Ogoni clean-up: UK commends HYPREP on remediation exercise

The British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms. Gill Atkinson says she is elated at the level of work done so far in the ongoing clean-up of Ogoniland in line with the recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP Report on the Ogoni environment.

Gill stated this when she led some officials of the High Commission on a working visit to some sites in Ogoniland being remediated by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP. She said, “It is really good to see some strong progress happening here and genuine implementation of the project which has taken time to plan, but as we can see, there is a real productive work going on now.  Congratulations to them for work well done”.

She gave assurance of Britain’s support politically and also offering long term expert support for the project through the Department for International Development (DFID).

The Project Coordinator, HYPREP, Dr. Marvin Barinem Dekil while briefing the British Deputy High Commissoner on the progress of work, reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to implementing the recommendations in the United Nations Environment Project (UNEP) Report to the letter in the Ogoni clean-up project.

He said HYPREP has carried out several engagements with various stakeholders at the community level to get their buy-in to enable them take ownership of the project.  He added that the sensitization provided a platform for HYPREP to harvest ideas and suggestions from the people which have yielded positive results.

“The project is enjoying full support from the traditional rulers, youth groups and women groups in all the communities that the clean-up is currently taking place”.

He explained that the bio-remediation option adopted by HYPREP for the clean-up is a slow process but the most effective.  He informed the Deputy High Commissioner that a total of 21 contractors are currently at different levels of remediation works on 21 lots across the 4 Local Government Areas of Ogoni.

The HYPREP Coordinator also said that the Project has provided huge employment opportunities for youths of Ogoni while business opportunities have also sprung up as a result of the ripple effect of activities in the communities. He disclosed that HYPREP had gone into partnerships with the Rivers State Ministry of Water Resources to be able to provide water to more communities in Ogoniland; Rivers State Ministry of Health to carry out assessment of all medical facilities in Ogoniland; the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) to provide training to Ogoni youths under the Sustainable Livelihood Program.

The Deputy High Commissioner and her team were later led by Dr. Dekil to pay a courtesy visit to the King of Eleme Kingdom, Emere Philip Obele in his palace where she was decorated and conferred with the title of Egbere Owa Ekoo, Eko of Eleme (Big woman and friend of Eleme Kingdom).

Ogoni Clean-up on track, Nigerians should support HYPREP – Bassey

Environmental Rights Activist, Nnimmo Bassey, has called on Ogonis and all Nigerians to support the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in the on-going clean-up of Ogoniland.

Bassey made the call when he led a delegation of members of Oil Watch Africa from 15 African countries to HYPREP on an assessment visit to some remediation sites in Ogoniland.

Receiving the team, the Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Marvin Dekil who explained the processes adopted by HYPREP in the clean-up, informed the team that the clean-up project commenced eight years after the report was submitted to the Federal Government of Nigeria by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

In a statement by HYPREP, Dekil was quoted as saying that the time between the date of submission in 2011 and 2016 when the clean-up was officially flagged off by President Buhari necessitated the review and modification of some of the strategies recommended in the report.

The Project Coordinator said the review and modification of some of the strategies does not mean that HYPREP has deviated from the recommendations in the UNEP Report as all such modifications are done with the input of UNEP.

While inspecting one of the remediation sites, Bassey expressed satisfaction with the works HYPREP is doing and confirmed that remediation has commenced in Ogoniland.

He expressed disappointment that despite the several activities going on at various sites across Ogoniland, people are still saying the clean-up has not commenced. Bassey said he appreciates the anxiety of the people who expect to see the work move at a very fast pace but pointed out that the clean-up project is a highly technical and complex work that requires expertise, experience and a lot of preparation.

Speaking to HYPREP staff, Nnimmo Bassey said members of the Oil Watch Africa are in Port Harcourt for a conference on the impact of oil on the continent, adding that it was important for the team to visit Ogoniland to see the work that HYPREP is doing and to see the state of the cleanup efforts.

The environmental rights activist said the visit was also to enable members from other African countries learn about the consequences of pollution and how difficult it is to restore the environment after pollution has occurred. Bassey said keeping the environment clean was everybody’s business as hydrocarbon pollution affects both the environment and humans and urged all stakeholders to ensure that Ogoniland remains clean after the clean-up.

He dispelled speculations that HYPREP funds are being mismanaged, explaining that the structure set up for the management of finances and for appropriating funds for HYPREP project is very well set up.

Bassey who is also a member of the HYPREP Board of Trustees (BoT) stated that people of integrity with very stringent control over finances are on the board of the Project, adding that the funds for the Project is held by the Ogoni Trust Fund with community people and other stakeholders as signatories to the account and not a kobo goes out without due process.

“HYPREP office does not determine which fund is released and which fund is being used. The strict nature of the control and the milestone set by HYPREP and the whole organizational structure, the BOT, GC, PCO, is such that any fund to be released must be matched by clear set goals and what it is going to be used for,” Bassey said.

He said ‘the clean-up is an excellent avenue to get youths employed to multiply skills that can be extended to other Niger Delta communities by the time the remediation project is expanded. This is an incubation lab. We must do all we can to ensure that this is a success that the environment is restored’. He encouraged youths to take advantage of the employment and training opportunities that the Project offers.

He emphasized that Ogoni clean-up is a signature project and that everyone involved in the delivery of this project desires to leave a legacy. Bassey called on everyone who doubts the commencement of the clean-up to visit the remediation sites across Ogoniland to see things for themselves and urged everyone to be patient with HYPREP since remediation is on course.