Tony John, Port Harcourt
Pressure groups Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) and Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) have faulted President Buhari’s recent statement that the Ogoni cleanup project was “progressing satisfactorily”.
The two groups have also expressed worry that the Ministry of Environment and the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) are not prepared for cleaning Ogoni’s polluted environment.
The two organisations expressed their disappointment Monday when they spoke at the quarterly engagement meeting with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and communities to review the progress on the Ogoni cleanup.
MOSOP’s Publicity Secretary Fegalo Nsuke described as unfortunate the President’s use of the word “satisfactorily” when he spoke on the Ogoni cleanup project during his May 29 Democracy Day broadcast.
Nsuke noted with concern the morbidity rate in Ogoniland, particularly Bodo community, in Gokana local government area, where no less than 10 deaths are recorded on weekly basis.
Similarly, Social Action’s Research and Programme Officer Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface said it was “worrisome and contradictory” to hear the HYPREP Coordinator, Dr. Marvin Dekil, in an interview with a foreign media organisation, that the Ogoni cleanup would start in September and not August, as earlier said.
Fyneface stated: “While Social Action is not against the immediate commencement of the Ogoni cleanup after seven years of the release of the UNEP report on August 4, 2011, and two years after the flag-off on June 2, 2016, the organization is, however, worried that the Federal Ministry of Environment and HYPREP are not prepared for the cleanup and, therefore, on a mission to ‘Cleaning in a Vacuum'”.
“We have doubt that HYPREP can undertake any credible and successful cleanup that meets international standard in August 2018, or even its new timeline of September, 2018, when certain UNEP recommended preliminary steps have not been taken and the necessary facilities are not yet in place in Ogoniland. Our field monitoring report shows that HYPREP is not yet prepared.
“Besides, Social Action takes the recent directive by President Muhamadu Buhari for funds to be released for the Ogoni cleanup with a pinch of salt because similar [a] statement was made in August 2015 to ‘Fast Track’ the cleanup, and this is where we are today – still advocating for the cleanup to happen.
“We would have, however, taken Mr. President’s statement more seriously if the President had made direct budgetary provisions for Ogoni cleanup in the 2018 Appropriation Bill. With the reverse as the case, we wonder where the funds that the President had directed to be released would come from.
“These are indications and realities on ground in Ogoniland to show that the Ogoni cleanup is not “progressing satisfactorily” as stated by President Muhammadu Buhai, in his May 29, 2018 Democracy Day speech,” he concluded.