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    Categories: The Nation

FG ‘must ensure full transparency’ in Ogoni clean-up exercise

A coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has called on the federal government to ensure full transparency in the clean-up of affected sites in Ogoniland.

The coalition made the call on the heels of the federal government’s statement that the exercise will soon start.

Ibrahim Jibril, minister of environment, said the cleanup — inaugurated in 2016 — will begin in August and that 400 companies have so far indicated interest in the contract.

Addressing a press conference during the weekend, the coalition, which comprises about 11 NGOs including Amnesty International and Environmental Rights Action, said the clean-up is long overdue and urged the government to ensure it starts in August as promised.

“As several announcements have been made in the past, it is only when works begin that we will be confident that clean-up has begun,” they said.

“It is also crucial that the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) involves all relevant stakeholders in the steps they take and guarantee a flow of up to date information to the public published on a dedicated website.

“The work plan and other key documents should be made public so that stakeholders can assess all the planned activities, progress, milestones, effectiveness, efficiency and successes.

“The justification for and selection of sites for clean-up should also be transparent. Full transparency will be vital for the confidence of all stakeholders in the process. After decades of living with oil pollution, ceremonies are not enough. It’s time for clean-up.”

The organisations also lamented government’s failure to establish an initial $1 billion fund to oversee the clean-up, as recommended by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2011.

“Despite the promises of the Nigerian government, Shell and the other oil companies, this has yet to be delivered,” they said.

The NGOs said with the ‘Ogoni trust fund account’ put in place for the exercise, the oil companies “appear to be trying to cap their contribution to this initial billion”.

“The government needs to pressure Shell and the other oil companies to commit to fund the full clean-up of Ogoniland,” they added.