After about two years of sound and fury, government finally heeded the calls of the SING Foundation and other concerned stakeholders that had continued to lend their voice to the call for the implementation of the Ogoni cleanup report and for work to actually commence on the project. While the news of the release of about $177million for the initial phase of the project, the track record of the current administration leaves much to be desired as the Niger Delta has got nothing but a litany of failed promises.
It is pertinent to point out that this sum is grossly inadequate, considering the scale of what needs to be done in restoring the land to its status prior to the commencement of oil exploration activities. The government of the day and its agencies must come out clean in defining a clearly discernible strategy and funding model for surmounting the daunting challenges in Ogoni land.
It is pertinent to note that the government of the day had, following the fanfare of flagging off the cleanup project, made several promises on the date the actual work will commence, even up to as recently as August 2018 that have gone unfulfilled. The government need not be reminded that the people of the area still have to live daily and source their livelihood from the polluted environment without basic amenities of decent human existence.
Government must swing into action on this matter, to ensure that the cleanup commences in earnest and that the timelines that have been set in order to meet the deadlines for the remediation and reclamation of the lands of the Ogoni people. The refineries that are yet to pay up their part are hereby urged to pay up to meet the target of about $200million per annum over the course of the first five years of the project.
The entire Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), must move the speed and scale of their operations to a higher gear, for their impact to be better felt by the locals who are thirsting for the restoration of their lands. The locals must also be incorporated into the daily running and execution of the project.
We urge the people of Ogoni land to keep up their persistence in demanding for justice to be done in restoring the area to full productive capacity within the shortest possible time. We will continue to resist any attempt to take the people of the region for a ride, in the name of trying to score cheap political points as we approach another election cycle.