PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, inWale Edun, augurated the Governing Council and the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Trust Fund for the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) for the implementation of the United Nations Environmental Report (UNEP) on Ogoniland.
Performing the ceremony at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, he noted that the project was huge and needed thorough planning and the involvement of the community and, therefore, urged for patience and understanding.
He said: “Indeed, a project of this magnitude requires extensive planning, scientific analysis, community involvement and genuine partnerships. As a result, it will require patience and understanding of the key stakeholders as we move forward.
“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the project remains on course, as we face the challenges of high expectations and the current conflict in the Niger Delta.
“The clean-up exercise is expected to go on for two decades. The first five years will address emergency response measures and remediation while the subsequent years will look to restore the ecosystems in the Delta.
“The governance framework we lay today, following extensive consultations, will form the bedrock for sustainability for years to come.
“Together, we will be able to transform what is today a tragic tale of desolation and destruction to one of restoration and opportunity for the coming generations.
“The expertise and technology exist to make this a reality. In the end, this project will serve as the ‘gold standard’ for the clean-up of similar pollution in other parts of the Niger Delta, and the world at large.”
Buhari called on local communities which he observed were the direct beneficiaries of the project to ensure its security and that of the persons implementing it.
The inauguration came exactly five years to the day the UNEP submitted an extensive report on its environmental assessment of Ogoniland.
Buhari recalled that the report was commissioned by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, which he said did not only document the problems that existed, but also contained recommendations on how they could be addressed, both in the short and in the longterm.
The Minister of Environment, Amina Ibrahim, is chairman of the Governing Council, while Wale Edun is the chairman of the BoT of the Trust Fund.
Edun has a background in Merchant Banking, Corporate Finance, Economics and International Finance at both national and international levels, as well as in Public Finance.
A former young professional at the World Bank/IFC, Edun is the chairman of Chapel Hill Denham Group, Lagos, a leading investment bank.
He was twice appointed Commissioner of Finance in Lagos State, between 1999 and 2004. In addition, he was, from inception, an Executive Director of Lagos Merchant Bank, Investment Banking & Trust Company Limited, now Stanbic IBTC.
He is a director of several other private businesses. Edun is an International Trustee of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation and Founder and chairman of Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame, a registered non-profit youth development organisation that runs amateur boxing in Lagos, in conjunction with the Lagos Amateur Boxing Association, as well as being involved with other not-for-profit organisations.
He obtained his Masters Degree in Development Economics from the University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom and a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Economics from the University of London, Queen Mary College, United Kingdom.
He is married with three children.
removal of Shell from committee
The decision by the Federal Government to include representatives of oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC) on the Governing Council and Board of Trustees for the implementation of the UNEP Report on the clean up of the oil/devastated Ogoniland, has been described as a potential impediment to the process.
This was as the Environmental Rights Agenda/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) called on the government to remove the oil giant from the two bodies, noting that its inclusion would undermine the entire process.
The non-governmental organisation said the insistence of the oil company on a place in the Governing Council and its undue wielding of political power and influence in the decision-making process, depicted that it had captured the country’s sovereignty and might eventually derail the clean-up exercise.
Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Dr Godwin Ojo, made the submission while speaking at a colloquium, organised by the group to commemorate the fifth year anniversary of the release of the UNEP Assessment Report on Ogoniland, held in Port Harcourt, on Thursday.
Dr Ojo further said instead of sitting at the decision-making structure, Shell was expected to provide funding for the remediation, while UNEP and the National Oil Spill Detection and Remediation Agency (NOSDRA) was to provide technical support and oversight functions over clean-up certification.