Executive Director, Social Action, a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), Dr Isaac Osuoka said that United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has recommended 1.04 billion dollars for cleanup of Ogoni community.
Osuoka disclosed this yesterday at a roundtable meeting on overview of the recommendation of UNEP Report on Ogoni community, organised by the NGO in Abuja.
He said that the Federal Government also made a commitment of 10 million dollars to commence the Board of Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HY- PREP).
He added that government on August 6 set up a Board of Trustee (BOT) to rehabilitate the ongoing Ogoniland, adding that the commitment was within the first 30 days of inauguration of the board.
He said that the purpose of the board was for the implementation of the UNEP report on the environmental restoration of Ogoni- land.
He said that the cleanup programme which was expected to last for 30 to 35 years had not started, adding that the fund was jointly contributed by the Federal Government and oil industry.
He said that since the release of the UNEP report, the response of the government to the implementation of the report has fallen short of expectations.
Osuoka added that the UNEP recommended quick efforts to ensure that all drinking water, wells where hydrocarbons were detected are marked and people are informed of the danger, while alternative sources of drinking water are provided.
He said that the HYPREP which the Federal Government set up under the Office of Ministry of Petroleum Resources was not backed by legislation.
Osuoka added that the HY- PREP was not also provided with adequate funds to totally execute it mandate.
”The result is that generally, neither the agency nor the government have done anything worthwhile to restore the Ogoni environment, four years after the UNEP report was released.
”Even emergency measures such as provision of alternative sources of drinking water have not been taken seriously by the government.
”Ogoni community members continue to drink from badly contaminated water wells and bathe in badly polluted streams.
” In the last two months, there has been a glimmer of light, indicating that at last, the much awaited remediation of Ogoni environment may begin.
”The announcement of the government that it is setting aside the 10million dollars to commence the process is a welcome gesture,’’ he said.
Osuoka was represented by Mrs Vivian Bellowu-Okafor, Head, National Advocacy Centre.
The Paramount Ruler of Mog- ho, in Ogoni Community, Chief Mene Kpea, said that the UNEP recommended quick efforts to fast- track actions for the implementation of its report on the cleanup.
Kpea said that the community was concern over the delay on the implementation process, adding ”even the 10 million dollars government committed is too small, it cannot solve the whole problem facing our land.’’
Also, Mr Emmanuel Okokon- Ndem, Head of Oil and Gas Division, Environmental Assessment Department, in the Federal Ministry of Environment said that the community should give the new administration time to succeed.
According to him, the community should have trust in what the government is doing, saying: ”I want to assure you that the government is doing everything possible to fulfill it promises.’’
– Tony Etim Ita, Port Harcourt