Ogoni oil spill: Nigeria sets up pollution restoration project

Asks for cooperation by impacted communities

THE Federal Government has approved the setting up of a Hydro-Carbon Pollution Restoration Project, HYPREP, a step taken in furtherance of the Federal government’s commitment to implement the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Assessment Report on the spill disaster in Ogoniland.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who announced this in a press conference in Abuja, told journalists that the setting up of HYPREP by Mr. President is in keeping with the Federal Government’s determination to protect the environmental human rights of the people.

According to her, the Project shall implement the recommendations of the UNEP report on Ogoniland as well as investigate, evaluate and establish other hydrocarbon impacted sites and make appropriate recommendations.

She noted that, “With the establishment of this project, it is expected that all stakeholders, especially the impacted communities, will cooperate fully with Government and grant unfettered access to all impacted sites to ensure complete success.”

She solicited the cooperation of all stakeholders especially community leaders to ensure the effective implementation of the programme.

Alison-Madueke further announced that the Presidential Investigation Committee originally set up to consider the report would “morph into an advisory capacity, with the Minister of Environment as its head. This committee would be working with UNEP to implement the report,” she added.

Recently, the Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers had lamented the apparent neglect by the Federal Government, even as it discloses that thousands of children in the community are found to be suffering from cancer and other deadly diseases from exposure to contaminated water and food as a result of oil spill from activities of oil companies in the area.

The Gberemene Gokana Kingdom and Vice President, Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, His Royal Highness, King Barnabas B.P. Bagia said his people were prepared to work for peace in the community, adding that the community should be allowed to nominate contractors for the cleaning up and remediation exercise, to be monitored by NOSDRA to avoid poor performance.

He noted that the Ogoni people have “suffered neglect, deprivation and torture amongst other ethnic tribes in Nigeria. We belong to the very few that substantially formed part if the tribes that are owners in possession of the wealth of this nation, but we are robbed of the sweat of our labour by the majority tribes who gained through privileged position as leaders for the oppressed class.”

The Gberemene further stated that for over fifty years of operations by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Ogoniland, the revenue derived from the sales of crude oil are used by the Federal Government to develop major cities in the country while the Ogoni communities remain underdeveloped.

According to him, “Our people are apparently wallowing in abject poverty, with its attendant sicknesses and diseases caused by the oil spilled from Shell Petroleum Development Company’s faulty pipelines in our land, which has destroyed all aquatic lives upon which the livelihood of the poor depend. Gokana Kingdom, made up of about twenty populated villages on whose land the worst oil spillage from SPDC occurred as contained in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report, which shows that every child born in Ogoni in the past twenty years is suffering from cancer.”

Also present at Friday’s briefing were the Honorable Minister of Environment Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Engr. Andy Yakubu, the Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Petroleum Resources and Finance, the DG National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA as well as some top Management of the NNPC and Petroleum Ministry.

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