President Buhari Approves New Governance Framework to Kickstart Ogoni Cleanup
Only months into his presidency, Muhammadu Buhari has shown that he intends to fast-track the implementation of the recommendations of the United Nations Environmental Programme Report (UNEP) report on the devastation that has been wreaked on Ogoniland in the Niger Delta.
To kickstart the process, Buhari has approved the amendment of the official gazette establishing the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) to reflect a new governance framework comprising. The new framework includes a Governing Council, a Board of Trustees for the HYPREP Trust Fund and a Project Management Team.
The HYPREP Governing Council will be made up of representatives of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Federal Ministry of Environment, impacted States, oil companies, Ogoniland, the United Nations and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
A contribution of $10 million (N2 billion) will be made by stakeholders within 30 days of the appointment of members of the Board of Trustees for the Trust Fund. The Board will be responsible for the collection of and management of funds from donors. The environmental clean-up of Ogoniland is expected to commence in earnest when the President inaugurates the HYPREP Governing Council and the Board of Trustees for the Trust Fund.
The establishment of the trust fund was a key recommendation of the UNEP report although, as human rights watchdog, Amnesty International points out, the promised $10 million is far below the $1 billion that UNEP said should be paid into the fund to cover the first five years of a clean-up job which could take up to 30 years. The UNEP study recommended that the contributions should be made by both the oil industry and the government.
The UNEP study also called for Shell’s clean-up methods to be urgently overhauled, including reviewing its methodology and addressing serious delays in responding to spills. Amnesty International has called on Shell to match the Nigerian government’s new commitment to tackle oil pollution in the Niger Delta by dramatically improving how its“ineffective clean-up methods.” The group also said it had visited multiple sites and found oil pollution lying all around. “From what we are seeing, little has changed.”
Shell has already accepted responsibility for cleaning up hundreds of its old spills in the region near Port Harcourt, but a spokesman said the money would only be made available when “we are sure that the structures are in place, are robust and will be overseen correctly.” He added that it was very much the responsibility of the Nigerian government.
Earlier this year, Shell began to pay out a £55 million settlement to the Bodo Community after reaching a settlement with them over 2 large spills in 2008 and 2009 that devastated the livelihoods of the communities in the area.