ERA/FoEN fear over fate of 31m Nigerians in polluted Niger Delta region

ERA/FoEN fear  over fate of 31m Nigerians in polluted Niger Delta region

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The Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) says the fate of 31 million people whose livelihood revolve around the polluted habitat on Ogoniland will be determined by the outcome of the remediation programme by the Nigerian government to reclaim the Niger Delta region from the apron-string of Shell.

ERA/FoEN in a comprehensive report titled, “No clean up, no justice: a decade of failure?, endorsed by Dr. Uyi Ojo, Executive Director of the Organization, expressed apprehension that the federal Government recently reconstituted Governing Council and the Board of Trustees of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) are propelled by politicians expressing a sense of political patronage.

ERA/FoEN claimed in the report warned that the cleanup process should not be used as an opportunity to provide job for the boys or party loyalists”, adding that emergence of Prof. Shekwolo, as a senior member of Shell, should have no place in the HYPREP, undertaking the cleanup of Ogoniland pollution which is a creation of the global oil giant.

The right group also called on the National Assembly should step up its oversight function on the HYPREP project in a bid to adopt the right strategies and proffer solutions that will break barriers against the cleanup exercise.

It alleged that the implications of allowing Prof. Shekwolo’s to remain as the Coordinator of the project is an indication that Shell is in control of the Ogoni cleanup, adding that the possibilities are there that the cleanup exercise if not checked may end up as another academic exercise.

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“This cleanup, if well managed, could rightly be described as a turning point in the history of the people of Ogoni and the entire Niger Delta region. It could also provide the yardstick to determine whether the over 31 million people who call this region home will live or die”, according to the report.

The group also questioned the delay over “the release of at least US$200 million yearly for initial five years period which should have amounted to US$1 billion by 2021”, and queried if the money been fully paid and wondered what the funds used for.

It called on the Nigerian state to keep politicians far away from the cleanup process and allow the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other capable individuals to manage the HYPREP cleanup process to ensure it does not fail”.

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