President Muhammadu Buhari has been commended for signaling the real commencement of the clean-up of the devastated environment of Ogoniland in Rivers State.
Health of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, which gave the commendation in a statement signed by its Communications Officer, Oluwafunmilayo Oyatogun, said, “The delay in implementing the four years old plan was unconscionable by all standards”.
It noted that the process leading to this had some consultations and that some structures have been established for its execution.
A member of the governing board of HOMEF, George Awudi, said the laudable step of President Buhari should be followed with a commissioning of environmental audits on other devastated territories in the Niger Delta, in line with the call for one by the people of Egi Land.
“These should be the starting point for an urgent and thorough auditing of the total state of the Nigerian environment, from the South to the North and from the East to the West”, Awudi added.
Also, the Director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey said, “there are rough edges that still require smoothening for a smooth take off of the clean up project”.
“A significant aspect is the non-inclusion of at least one representative of civil society in the structures set up by the President. The role and deep stakes of civil society in the struggle for the clean up of Ogoniland and the Niger Delta cannot be overlooked. Their inclusion is essential for oversight reason. HOMEF also recommends that the new HYPREP or HYCUP should ensure that verified debts owed workers and staff of the defunct body are settled.
“In terms of the budget to commence the immense tasks ahead, in addition to the $10 million from the Federal Government, the polluter, Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, should place the $1 billion estimated by UNEP as a start up sum on the table now without further prevarications,” Bassey stressed.
HOMEF, however, suggested that the body saddled with the task of cleaning up Ogoniland should be renamed from Hydropollution Restoration Project, HYPREP to Hydrocarbons Clean-up Project, HYCUP. “Certainly government does not wish to ‘restore pollution’ as the name Hydrocarbons Pollution Restoration Project, HYPREP, suggests. The object is to remediate the environment, not to restore pollution.
“HOMEF recommends that the name be changed to Hydrocarbons Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, or Hydrocarbons Clean-up Project, HYCUP. Better still, the body should be renamed as Ogoni Environment Restoration Agency as recommended by UNEP”, the statement said.
It also affirmed that if the idea is to pave way for an agency that serves the entire Niger Delta, the needful thing to do, while having a specific project for Ogoniland, would be to rename the Niger Delta Development Commission, NNDC as Niger Delta Environment Restoration Commission.
HOMEF said the new body should engage in urgent and transparent consultations to agree on steps to be taken, the competences to be employed in the clean up and the milestones to be targeted. The Foundation applauded the Ogoni people for their consistent and dogged struggles to ensure that their environment is cleaned up.
It said with this coming in the year that marks the 20th anniversary of the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni martyrs, the sacrifices made by the Ogoni people justify the stanza of our national anthem that declares that the “labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain”.

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