President Buhari Urges Niger Delta Communities to Support Govt’s Ogonoland Clean-up




President Muhammadu Buhari has called on Niger Delta
communities, especially the youth, to support
government’s efforts at cleaning Ogonoland.
Buhari made the call in Abuja on Thursday while
inaugurating the Board of Trustees and Governing Council
of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP)
at the Presidential Villa.
The President appealed to the communities to safeguard
the lives of the persons implementing the project.
According to him, the inauguration of the board and council
is in line with his administration’s commitment to ensuring
the implementation of the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP) Report on Ogoniland and other
affected sites.
“Today marks another milestone in the commitment that
this administration has made in ensuring the
implementation of the UNEP Report in Ogoniland and other
affected sites.
“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.
“I use this opportunity, through you, to call upon the local
communities, especially our youths, who will be the direct
beneficiaries of this effort, to work with us in ensuring the
security of the projects and persons implementing them.
“Even more so, that we prevent the recontamination of the
polluted sites in Ogoniland.”
Buhari stated that although the UNEP Report was released
five years ago, it has taken his administration only two
months to inaugurate the clean-up project in Ogoniland.
According to him, since the inauguration of the project,
considerable effort has been made to create a robust
mechanism for implementing the clean-up both in the short
and long terms.
“It is exactly five years today, on Aug. 4, 2011, the United
Nations Environment Programme submitted an extensive
report on the environmental assessment of Ogoniland.
“That report, which was commissioned by the
Administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, did
not only document the problems that existed, but also
contained recommendations on how they can be
addressed, both in the short term and in the long term.
“Five years on, the project is yet to properly take off.
“It would appear to have experienced series of false starts,
while the local communities continue to suffer from the
problem, which has existed long before the report.
“This all adds to the picture described in the UNEP Report
as `a landscape characterised by a lack of trust, paralysis
and blame’.”
Buhari, who said that the clean-up required extensive
planning, scientific analysis, community involvement, and
genuine partnerships, assured that the funds devoted for
the project would only be used for that purpose.
He expressed gratitude to members of the council and
board for accepting the assignment.
He reminded them that the task required patience and
understanding of the key stakeholders.
The President expressed optimism that the project would
impact the lives and livelihoods of local communities,
whose environments had been severely degraded by years
of unchecked pollution from oil exploration activities
He said the clean-up is expected last two decades.
He stated that the first five years will address emergency
response measures and remediation, while the subsequent
years will witness efforts at restoring the ecosystems in
the region.
“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 to make this a reality exist.
“In the end, this project will serve as the “gold standard”
for the clean-up of similar pollution sites in other parts of
the Niger Delta, and the world at large,’’ he said.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of
HYPREP, Mr Olawale Edun, expressed appreciation to
Buhari for giving them the opportunity to serve as
members of the HYPREP council and board.
He pledged that the board would ensure efficient and
judicious management of funds set aside for the clean-up
project.
“By the inauguration of this Board of Trustees, we have the
singular opportunity, working as a team, working in
conjunction with others to intervene decisively within the
context of the UNEP 2011 Report on the Environmental
Assessment of Ogoniland.
“This is a rear privilege and opportunity that we intend to
seize boldly with initiative and with great determination.
“We are entrusted and we recognize the very great
responsibility we have to manage the funds that have been
contributed now, and are going to be contributed in the
future.
“These are significant funds and we recognize the
responsibility to manage them efficiently, to manage them
transparently and that is exactly what we intend to do.’’
The Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, who is
also the Chairperson of the Governing Council of HYPREP,
assured the President that the council would be guided by
the principles of accountability, transparency and true
representation.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that already
about 1 billion dollars have been committed to HYPREP for
the next 5 years.
The bulk of the funding is coming from the Shell Petroleum
Development Company Joint Venture.
The programme is a fallout from the UNEP Report.
The Federal Government had in 2009 commissioned UNEP
to carry out an assessment of the devastation in the area
as a result of oil spill and come up with a report.
In the report, which was released on Aug. 4, 2011, UNEP
recommended the clean-up of the area, an exercise, which
it said would span between 25 and 30 years and which
would require one billion dollars. (NAN)

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