Ogoni cleanup: FG engages coordinator 

Site of an oil spillage PHOTO:Pius Utomi Ekpei / AFP

Receives First Tranche Of $200m

Seven months after the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo performed the launch of the Ogoni cleanup; the project has started in earnest with the appointment of a coordinator.

Also, the Federal Government has received the first tranche of the US$1b initial capital for the implementation of the project.

Recall that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which conducted an environmental audit of some contaminated sites in Ogoni, had in its recommendation to the Federal Government, suggested that an Environmental Restoration Fund for Ogoniland be set up with an initial capital injection of US$1b contributed by the oil industry and the government, to cover the first five years of the cleanup project.

But since the launch of the Cleanup and subsequent inauguration of the Governing Council and Board of Trustees (BoT) for the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in August 2016, the project had experienced delays, even as expectations have been high on the immediate commencement of the exercise.

Reacting to fears following delay in the take off of the cleanup, the Presidency last week disclosed that it has “already appointed somebody who is going to run ‎the whole process.”

Specifically, the government said a Coordinator has been appointed, as well as, a 30-man staff engaged by the authorities to commence work on the project.

Senior Special Assistant ‎on media and publicity to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, Laolu Akande told The Guardian that the structure is tasked with the responsibility to facilitate the development of the road map and see to its implementation with regards to the cleanup project.

“Because this is not just an adhoc thing. This is something that is going to take a number of years. The coordinator ‎has been appointed and the staff of 30 have been appointed. The important thing is that we now have a structure, we have the Board of Trustees, we have the governing council and now we have the management. Work is going to start very soon,” he stressed.

‎He noted that with US$200million being the first tranche of the $1b initial capital injection for the project already in the kitty, work has begun in earnest.

The spokesman however refused to be categorical on fears that $1b would not being enough for the cleanup exercise in the first five years, saying, ‎ “well, work is going to start. I would rather say that the cup is half full, rather than to say the cup is half empty.”

He also expressed the need for a stoppage of pollution caused by the continued blowing up of installations in the region and a cessation of gas flaring.

He said: “‎The major challenge as you know is that if you’re going to be doing a cleanup of a place, then you need to stop the pollution. You need to stop the blowing up of installations because all these things cause pollution. Is not just the gas flaring, it’s not just the regular operations.

“The fact that we had all of these in the recent past itself is an impediment to cleanup of the place.

“What is the point of cleaning up when somebody is blowing up something over here, and blowing up something over there?”

“But I must say that recently things seem to be cooling off for which we are very thankful to God that we are building understanding and winning the peace, so that we can actually go ahead and effectively progress with the cleanup.”

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