Some contractors don’t know where Ogoni is —Mitee
By Egufe Yafugborhi & Davies Iheamnachor
OGONI leaders yesterday, rejected what they described as “flawed implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, for clean-up of oil pollution in Ogoniland” over perceived compromise of the process as gazetted by Federal Government.
A gathering of Ogoni Elders Forum (Gbo Kabaari Ogoni) expressed the disapproval in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, as Federal Government handed polluted sites to companies for commencement of the clean-up work to various contracted companies.
Senator Bennett Birabi, Chairman of the Elders forum said: “More than two years after its flag-off, the manner and process for implementation of recommendations run completely contrary to assurances by Federal Government, more importantly in the report to detriment of the Ogoni people.
“Rather than commence implementation with the proposed emergency measures, we have come to observe that after each tranche of funds release by the oil companies on the clean-up, the expenditure pattern has not only been opaque, but completely out of sync with the UNEP recommendations.”
Ledum Mitee, former leader of Movement for Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, who was also present at the meeting, alleged that even with the award of contracts so far the implementing Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, has come to the alienation of the community stakeholders.
“You won’t imagine that one of those who got contract was asking what the direction to Ogoni is. He has not been here, he knows nothing about Ogoni. They said they spent N1 billion on communications, if this is true, then all stakeholders including the communities should be on same page, one accord, but that is not the case,” Mitee said.
FG assures wide Community engagements
Meanwhile the Federal Government has promised that youths, chiefs, women and men of the Ogoni ethnic nationality would be fully involved in the remediation project in the area.
Minister of Environment, Surveyor Suleiman Zarma, who conducted the ceremony in Korokoro community, Tai Local Government Area of the state, said that the project would “be carried out in line with best international practices.”
Zarma assured that the youths and people of the area would be engaged in the clean-up.
Charging the people to take ownership of the project by holding and guiding the contractors so that they would deliver the job according to specifications.
However, the President of the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, King Godwin Gininwa, had earlier pleaded with the Federal Government and HYPREP, to engage contractors from Ogoni in the clean-up project.