Minister: Ogoni Cleanup Starts Two Years After

  • IPPAM decries inconsistencies in climate policy drive

Senator Iroegbu and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

Two years after the inauguration of the cleanup of Ogoniland in June 2016 by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Minister of Environment, Ibrahim Jibril saturday revealed that the actual remediation exercise would commence by August ending.

The minister gave the hint in Abuja while addressing a press conference ahead of the World Environment Day (WED) coming up on Tuesday, June 5, with the theme, ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.

Giving updates on the cleanup, Jibril said advertising was done in April and more than 400 contractors indicated interest in the remediation exercise.

According to him, “They are doing their analysis which is completed now and preliminary figures are giving us a figure of about 140 that are pre-qualified. These are the ones that when we finally get the figures we would invite them to submit their financial duty and that process would continue in the whole of June to July; and we hope that by August we should be able to get to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to give approval for whatever remediation contract that would be given.”

Continuing, Jibril noted, “about three weeks ago, the Board of Trustees was able to sign an escrow agreement in presence of the Vice President. All these are geared towards getting the escrow account to be opened and joint partners, the oil companies and the NNPC are now at the last stage of populating their account with the amount that would be used for the cleaning process itself. We are on good track and we expect to do the best we can within the framework of what we are doing now.”

Speaking further, the minister stressed that the theme of this year’s World Environment Day was apt for Nigeria considering the peculiar nature of the country on plastic and polythene disposal, stressing that it constitutes a major environmental concern that the country has been grappling with.

He said the present administration attaches much importance to the development of the environment, and because of that the Vice President would grace this year commemoration of WED, which would be held at the State House.
The minister also revealed that the federal government is presently working on a National Policy on Plastic Waste Management to regulate the use and disposal of plastics in the country.

He explained that the ministry in collaboration with critical stakeholders has developed a national strategy for the phase out of non-biodegradable plastics; while at the same time implementing a National Recycling Programme to establish plastic west recycling plants across the country in partnership with the State governments.

Jibril stated: “At present, a total of eight of such plants have already been completed and handed over to the States of local while 18 others are at various stages of completion. The federal government is also collaborating with States to establish plastic waste recycling plants under Community-Based Waste Management Programme of the ministry. To this end, two plants have been completed in Ilorin, Kwara state, one in Lokoja, Kogi state, while work on another is ongoing in Karu, Nasarawa State. Other locations include Bala Jariin Bombs and Leda Jari in Kano State.”

On the issue of desertification, the minister revealed that there is a planned trip to Iran for eleven States that are at the frontline of desertification.

According to him, “the idea is to go there and see how they have prevented the sand move from encroaching into their land. So, we want to understudy that and be able to replicate it in this country.”

Corroborating the minister’s statement on Ogoni cleanup, the Project Coordinator of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), Dr. Marvin Dekil, stated that the federal government was absolutely committed to the clean-up, saying that the remediation of impacted sites would commence towards the end of August, starting with 26 sites as contained in the UNEP report.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Public Policy Analysis and Management (IPPAM) has warned that if an aggressive climate change policy is not put in place to sustain the socio-economic development, the country will lose 11 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to climate change by 2020.

This was the highlight of the IPPAM one-day public policy roundtable series recently in Abuja with the theme: ‘Climate Change, Livelihoods and Public Policy Responses in Nigeria’.

The stakeholders also lamented that Nigeria does not have any coherent policy document developed on the issue of climate change.

According to the keynote speaker and Vice Chancellor, Alex Ekwueme University, Ebonyi, Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba, the country’s Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) in some instances is inconsistent with Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), which should be the pillar of sustainable development in the country.

Nwajiuba asserted that the ambitions laid down in the ERGP cannot be met without due considerations of the impacts of climate change and its potential to retard or even stop any development effort in Nigeria.

He said: “If the NDC is supposed to be the central pillar, Nigeria’s development policy as envisaged in the draft implementation plan, seems to have a missing link between the ERGP and the NDC.

“We don’t have a real policy in Nigeria and I don’t know if we have a nominal or real policy, because policy has to be a real policy not nominal which means you truly believe you have a document to guide you.

“Nigeria does not have one example of a policy document developed with rigour as regards to climate change. We had the chance to put it into practice and really develop a document with so much rigour that the product of areas, research at macro levels has all kinds of stakeholders, both local and international. Research that covers states research at macro level, local and international.

“Countries have policies which means there is a document somewhere that supposedly is a policy to guide, but practitioners don’t even remember that such a guide exists, nobody would still call that a policy,” he added.
On his part, the Consultant of Clean Energy, Mr. Ishaku Mshelia, said one of the tragedies of most African nations especially Nigeria is policy inconsistency and inability to put in practice and implement purpose driven policies.
“There is a report already warning that Nigeria will lose over 11 per cent of her GDP if it fails to adopt and robustly implement climate change policy,” Mshelia said.

He said developed countries are not bothered about agriculture because their agriculture is based on irrigation, stressing that if irrigation facilities are scattered all over the country, no one would be talking about drought in the north or flood.

According to him, “we have to come up with a strategy that is hinged on moving from the inferior stage we are to the superior stage we should be. Climate change impact is highly huge in terms of destruction of economic activities on the people. There is social dislocation, look at the IDPs, only God knows what they might
be facing because of this economic dislocation.”