$1 Billion no longer realistic for Ogoni cleanup, says governing council.

The Board of Trustees on Ogoni cleanup has described the initial $1 billion earmarked for the project as unrealistic in the face of rising exchange rate of the naira.

The President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Mr. Legborsi Pyagbara, disclosed this yesterday after their meeting in Port Harcourt.

He said when the project was conceived in 2011, the exchange rate was much lower, adding that it had since risen to over N500 to a dollar.

Another member of the board, Dr. Peter Medee, said: “We must not be in a hurry to get the cleanup done, but ensure that the best is given to our people to ensure its sustainability.”

Medee explained that community sensitisation and training of personnel were ongoing in line with the UNEP’s recommendation, promising that other activities would start next week.

He explained that $200 million would be released in five batches each year for the next five years to cover the budgeted amount.

Medee urged the Federal Government to set up policies to generate funds from the multinational companies, instead of depending only on funds from donor agencies.

“Remember that a similar cleanup exercise in the Gulf of Guinea took $36 billion. However, when we receive the money, we would plan how best to utilise it,” he said.

Anyakwee Nsirimovu and Prof. Ben Naanen, who stressed the need for an environment centre in Ogoni, also attended the meeting.

MOSOP mulls reassessment of polluted sites in Ogoniland

Citing delay in the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on Ogoniland, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) is contemplating reassessing the polluted sites to determine the extent of their contamination.


To this end, the movement is to meet with indigenes on the governing council of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) for proper briefing.


The spokesperson to MOSOP president, Bari-ara Kpalap, who spoke with The Guardian, said: “The UNEP report was submitted in 2011. It is almost six years and there is no way the situation in 2011 will remain same. What it means is that the level of contamination is far higher now. And that means that there is need for a reassessment of the area to determine the exact state of pollution.”

He regretted that the communities were still drinking contaminated water after the global agency had certified presence of hydrocarbon and benzene due to helpnessness.


“The Ogoni people are deeply worried that nothing is happening concerning this whole clean-up exercise, especially after the flag-off had been concluded. They are disturbed that the pollution is not abating. You can imagine what is happening to our health and survival. We are deeply worried that we are not seeing anything on ground to indicate that the implementation has actually begun,” he lamented.


Kpalap went on: “Our survival has been compromised as a result of this delay. Our underground and surface waters remain contaminated, yet we do not have an alternative. We are drinking the contaminated water. The consequence is that we are dying and suffering ailments.”


He revealed that land had been made available for the establishment of the Centre of Excellence and Soil Management, one of the key recommendations of the report.


Kpalap added that the governing council of HYPREP was to pick a suitable location for the centre.

Federal government explains reasons for delay in Ogoni clean-up

The Federal Government has stated that the delay in the commencement of Ogoni clean-up exercise was to build a solid foundation for the project, and avert a situation where money is spent without the people feeling the impact of such spending.


It would be recalled that in June, President Muhammadu Buhari, had through his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo launched the “Clean-Up of Ogoniland” at Bodo, Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State. But since the flag-off, the project has experienced hiccups.


Speaking on the delay yesterday, the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, pointed out that every arrangement concerning the project, including the issue of funding, has now been perfected.


She spoke in Abuja at the 10th Anniversary of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, explaining that: “Talking about Ogoni spill, all resources have been made available and the money has been released. But if you do not have structure in place the money will go into the ground and people will not feel the impact.


“It is important for us to put together structure and make sure that we have a solid foundation. Who is in the office, who is the budget manager and how are they recruiting? All of these were not taken care of in the past. But this time, we believe that by the time we leave, people will see result. It will be a continuing process and in the next few months people will be seeing some of the issues that they had not seen.”


Mohammed maintained that it was important for militants to stop further oil spillage by putting a halt to bombing of oil facilities to assist the exercise.


According to her,“In Nigeria, there is a growing level of oil spill incidents caused majorly by illegal bunkering, artificial refining, oil theft and armed militancy. These activities occur mostly in facilities located on land and swamp areas. However, some incidents do occur offshore, and with the increased interest of operators to pursue exploration and production in the deep offshore, there is the need to step up the level of preparedness to effectively respond to challenges that may be presented by oil spills in the marine environment.


“The devastating impacts of oil spills on the environment, health and livelihoods of our rural and urban communities have led to land degradation, loss of lives, destruction of habitats, loss of biodiversity, incidence of diseases, poor sanitation as well as the depletion of national revenue base.


“The need to prevent and rapidly respond to oil spill incidents whenever they occur can therefore not be overemphasized. To this end, the Federal Government is committed to dialoguing with state governments, opinion and youth leaders in the Niger Delta region to find a lasting solution to these incessant attacks which deplete our national revenue base and degrade the environment.”

Buhari Approves BoT For Ogoniland Cleanup

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a 13-member Governing Council and 10-member Board of Trustees for the cleanup of Ogoniland in Rivers.

The Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed, announced this in a statement by Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr Bukar Hassan, in Abuja on Saturday.

The minister said the structures would ensure inclusiveness, accountability, transparency and sustainability of the exercise.

Mohammed acknowledged the concerns raised by stakeholders on the perceived slow pace of the clean up, saying “Nigerians have a right to voice their concerns”, but called for patience.

“We have responsibility to deliver. The launch was the first step in a 30-year journey. We continue to make strides toward the implementation.

“We ask for patience as we lay solid foundations for the cleanup. The context is complex and stakeholders are diverse. All must be taken along”, Mohammed said.

According to her, Buhari remains steadfast in his conviction to see Ogoniland and other parts of the Niger Delta cleaned up.

She said the ministry was working with the Ministries of Petroleum Resources, Niger Delta, NDDC and key stakeholders in implementing the UNEP report.

The minister said the exercise was a collective responsibility and urged all the Niger Delta communities, especially the Ogonis, to support the remediation and restoration efforts of government.

The UN report estimated that the cleanup of Ogoniland could take up to 30 years with the initial remediation taking five years and the restoration another 25 years.

President Buhari inaugurated the clean up on June 2 at Bodo in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers.

Credit: NAN

Activists Commemorate 20th Anniversary Of Execution Of Ken Saro-Wiwa (PHOTOS)

Activists have commemorated the 20th anniversary of the execution of environmental crusader Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was arrested, tried, and executed on November 10th, 1995.
Mr. Saro-Wiwa was a member of the Ogoni people, he spoke out against both Shell Oil Company and the Nigerian government for the environmental degradation caused by oil extraction.

On November 10th, 1995, Mr. Saro-Wiwa was arrested, tried, and executed on the orders of military dictator Sani Abacha. His execution was met with international condemnation, Nigeria was expelled from the Commonwealth of Nations for three years.


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Photo Credit : Sahara Reporters