The Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) has described the recent directive by President Muhammadu for a full audit of the accounts of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) from inception to date as desirable.
This is contained in ERA’s Executive Director of the Human Rights Watch, Dr. Uyi Godwin Ojo, disclosed this in a Report titled, “HYPREP scorecard: Hope Betrayed’, to mark the 11the Anniversary of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Wednesday in Benin City, Edo State.
He advised that of the Nigerian government, the Ogoni people and her partners are going to request the international Community to support the continuation of the remediation and restoration exercise, there must be transparency, and accountability in the way the initial $1 billion cleanup fund was utilised through a collective action.
Critical among the issues raised by ERA in the advocacy, which bother on how oil spill has impacted on the Environment, livelihood, soil and water contamination and Gender issues, according to Ojo, is fuelled by greed and sabotage by agents of government and non-state actors.
Ojo, challenged Stakeholders particularly the media and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) which is almost in comatose, to compel concerned authorities to act fast to savage the crisis to check the lack of capacity exhibited by HYPREP, hindrances and delays in execution of the project racketing in the entire Niger Delta region, Southern Nigeria.
Amidst concerns that the Niger Delta region’ clean up project, which ERA had estimated will cost $100 billion, might be abandoned after the initial $1billion launch is exhausted, the Report proposed that “Apart from the audit of the accounts of HYPREP, an audit of the clean up and remediation work done by HYPREP should also be carried out by an independent body”.
ERA, called on Stakeholders to be vigilant towards ensuring that the directive does not become counterproductive and demanded assurances that the audit process will not hinder the cleanup not to become a mouse game like the much tainted audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), which lingered on for too long or become a cash cow or a channel for political patronage.
The Report alleged that HYPREP processes have been compromised and politicised such that there is no benefit to affected Communities in Ogoniland, describing the turnover of six ministers of Environment since the cleanup project began in 2016 as disheartening.
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