From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, yesterday, said that over 4,000 indigenes of Ogoni have lost their lives and several others displaced from their ancestral lands following the activities of the oil explorations that have polluted their environment.
He made the allegation while speaking on the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) score card: Hope Betrayed, an evaluation of the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)’s Environment Assessment of Ogoniland 11 years on in Benin.
Dr. Ojo said HYPREP, the special purpose vehicle set up to implement the Ogoni cleanup process has, despite the best efforts of concerned stakeholders, struggled to effectively deliver on any of the recommendations set out in the UNEP report.
Ojo said the agency lacks the manpower and experiences required to pull off a multifaceted cleanup, remediation and restoration project of this magnitude.
Ojo added that the payment of $1billion for cleanup and remediation in the first five years in a cleanup that will last 25-30 years, an agreement between the federal government and Shell on the one hand and the Ogoni community on the other was for the contributing stakeholders to pay $200 million yearly for the initial five years.
He urged that four years after the project launched, only $360 million has been paid as confirmed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) during a public hearing at the house of representatives in 2020 and that there is no update on whether further transfers had been made for 2021 and 2022.
He decried the over politicization of HYPREP which he said has slowed down its operations in the oil producing regions.
“According to Ogoni community members, HYPREP was thought to be a watertight structure with proper checks and balances that will deliver a word class cleanup of the Ogoni environment and lay the groundwork for the cleanup of the rest of the Niger Delta region.
“However, the process was politicized such that there is little or no benefits to the victims and impacted communities leading to what many have called hope betrayed.
“The cleanup process appears to have been jettisoned by the actions of the different ministers of environment who now run HYPREP as sole administrators.
“There have been six different ministers of environment since the project was launched in 2016”, he said.
He maintained that there is a deliberate plan of the Nigerian government and the Shell to wage a war against the people of Ogoniland.
“ERA/FoEN has since 2012, consistently provided annual independent monitoring reports on the status of the implementation of the recommendations proposed in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
“Ogoni Environmental Assessment report submitted to the Nigerian government on August 4, 2011. The UNEP report scientifically and specifically validated the age long claims of the people of Ogoni that Shell and the Nigerian state had waged a systematic and genocidal environmental war against the Ogoni people in the quest to maximize profit from oil and gas extraction.
“Since 1993, over 4,000 Ogoni patriots have paid the supreme sacrifice and several others have become internally displaced or refugees in exile “, he alleged.