President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a N2.1billon ($10million) donor-driven fund for the immediate cleanup of Ogoniland in Rivers State.
He also endorsed other measures to fast-track the implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP Report on the environmental restoration of Ogoniland.
The actions approved by President Buhari, based on recommendations of the Executive Director of UNEP, the UNEP Special Representative for Ogoniland, Permanent Secretaries of the Federal Ministries of Environment and Petroleum Resources, and other stakeholders, include the amendment of the Official Gazette establishing the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project, HYPREP, to reflect a new governance framework comprising a Governing Council, a Board of Trustees and Project Management.
The President, according to his spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, further approved that the HYPREP Governing Council should be composed as follows:
Ministry of Petroleum Resources, one representative; Federal Ministry of Environment, a representative; Impacted States (Rivers), one representative; oil companies and NNPC, four representatives; Ogonila, two representatives; United Nations System, one representative; The Secretariat, headed by Project Manager.
He also approved the composition of a Board of Trustees for the HYPREP Trust Fund as follows: Federal Government, one representative; NNPC, one representative, International Oil Companies, one representative; Ogoniland, a representative and United Nations System, a representative.
Following a meeting held on the directive of President Buhari, it was also agreed that a contribution deposit of N2.1billion ($10million) will be made by stakeholders within 30 days of the appointment of members of the Board of Trustees for the Trust Fund who will be responsible for collecting and managing funds from contributors and donors.
A new implementation template has also been evolved at the instance of the President and the environmental clean-up of Ogoniland will commence in earnest with the inauguration of the HYPREP Governing Council and the Board of Trustees for the Trust Fund.
Meanwhile, Buhari has pledged that his administration will take necessary actions to maintain and improve the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, as a functional vehicle for the promotion of national unity and integration.
There has been clamour in certain quarters for the scheme to be scrapped due its perceived flaws and challenges.
Rather than scrapping it, the President said he would boost the efficiency of the scheme.
President Buhari gave the assurance after receiving a briefing from officials of the Federal Ministry of Youth Development led by the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Rabi Jimeta.
The President affirmed his trust in the programme, saying that the objective for which it was established in 1973 was still relevant for national development.
“I firmly believe in NYSC and I think it should remain a national programme to promote integration.
“Whenever I go home to Daura, I look out for corps members from Lagos, Aba and other parts of the country.
“I am always thrilled to learn that except for the NYSC, some of them have never left their states of origin to visit other cities in the country,” President Buhari said.
Mrs. Jimeta told the President that the increasing number of NYSC participants posed a challenge to the scheme due to the dwindling revenue, from the national budget, to cater for their needs.
She told the President that the annual enrolment of corps participants had increased from 2,364 at inception in 1974 to 229,016 in 2014.
“Given the increasing number of tertiary institutions, our projection is that the number of corps participants may rise to 300,000 by year 2020,’’ she said.
Director-General of NYSC, Brig-Gen. Johnson Olawumi, told the President that there were plans to make the scheme voluntary and reduce the corps population to make the programme more sustainable.

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