ERA urges FG to set aside $100bn for cleanup of pollution in Niger Delta
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has urged the federal government to set aside $100billion for the cleanup of all oil-polluted sites in the Niger Delta and pay compensation to affected communities.
This is as the body and other environmental activists have strongly condemned the inability of National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to monitor the ongoing cleanup exercise in Ogoniland.
Speaking at an event in Port Harcourt, to mark the 9th year of Ogoni environmental assessment report implementation, Dr Godwin Ojo, alleged that the “National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), the body saddled with the responsibility for certification of cleanup and remediation work has not visited these sites to certify that the work done complies with contractual or regulatory requirements but HYPREP and ministry of the environment have already cleared some of them and asked them to backfill their sites.
Ojo, therefore, called for “the enforcement of the polluter pays principle and the removal of Shell from all oversight bodies as well as the day to day management of the cleanup process”.
“The setting aside of $100 billion for the cleanup of the entire Niger Delta region and the compensation of communities and individuals directly affected by over 50 years of oil extraction.
“The Nigerian government’s urgent restructuring, reorganisation and a complete overhaul of HYPREP in its entirety in order to remove all administrative, financial and political obstacles that are stalling the process of the cleanup process”.
He stressed that the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) procurement process is significantly flawed, adding that the agency’s processes lacked transparency and were not open to public scrutiny.
Represented by Barr Mike Karikpo, ERA Programme Manager, Dr Ojo stated that HYPREP has failed and neglected to implement the UNEP recommended emergency measures, thereby taking direct aim at further disempowering women in Ogoni who are the caregivers in our communities.
The group also noted that the laboratories where soil samples from the remediation sites are being taken for analysis were compromised.
He said “It has been nine years of motion without movement, nine years of unfulfilled promises, nine years of high-level manipulations by Shell and the Nigerian State as well as years of opaqueness and unacceptable operations by HYPREP. It has been nine years cluttered with a litany of failures and continuous discontent throughout Ogoni.
“There are concerns that the laboratories in Port Harcourt where soil samples from the cleanup sites are taken for analysis have been compromised. We have testimonies from workers in the field that most samples do not meet regulatory or contractual requirements, but they are given the all-clear by these labs. There are also concerns that some of these labs are owned by contractors engaged in the cleanup process and others are owned by senior officials of HYPREP”.
Similarly, in his address at the event, Dr Sam Kabari, Head, Environment and Conservation, Centre for Environment Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), said NOSDRA is not living up to its responsibility in the monitoring of the cleanup exercise.
“NOSDRA is not waking up to its responsibilities. Local and private monitors are frustrated because they do not have access to contractors’ book, as it is only HYPREP that gives approval to such access. We need to know where the level of oil is last week and where it is at the moment, that is the essence.
“HYPREP and NOSDRA are supposed to work hand in hand to undertake investigations on the cleanup sites but there is no evidence or statement from NOSDRA to say HYPREP was at the remediation sites. There is no monitoring being undertaken by NOSDRA. The local monitors said the contractors are not compacting on places that were excavated.
“The Implications of NOSDRA not doing its job is that contractors can claim they have done work whereas they have not done any work. Secondly, people cannot build houses in such places anymore even after the cleanup”, Dr Kabari added.
Also speaking, Bari-ara Kpalap, former MOSOP Secretary, said that the cleanup process has been compromised.
He said: “We saw a conflict of interest in the exercise, there is a staff of Shell who colluded with NOSDRA and certified sites in Ogoni in 2006 yet UNEP came and declared the same sites as highly polluted.
“These are still the same staff of Shell that is the head Technical operations of HYPREP, it’s the same cover-up. Top people in HYPREP are owners of the labs that do not have any integrity, therefore, the integrity of the cleanup exercise is in doubt”.