Ogoni Elders Allege Poor Execution of $360m Clean-up Contracts

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Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The Ogoni Elders Council the ‘Gbo Kabaari,’ has written a letter to the Minister of Environment over what it described as the flawed implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) recommendations of Ogoni Clean-up exercise, alleging insiders abuse within government agencies.

The letter dated March 18 2020, which was sighted by THISDAY, also accused officials NOSDRA of complicity .

The letter was signed by Senator Bennett Birabi as Chairman; Dr. Aluba Bari D. Nbete, General Secretary; with Mr. Ledum Mitee; Mr .Baritor L. Kpagih; Chief Monday Nbueh; Chief Michael Aloega and John Pascal Nalley, as members.

The Ogoni elders alleged that: “Even more worrisome is the fact that by the UNEP Report which forms the basis of the clean-up exercise, about 30 per cent of the estimated cost of $1 billion for the first five years of the exercise was to be utilised for the provision of alternative drinking water, alternative employment for those in artisanal refining and restoration of artisanal refining sites,Ogoniland Restoration Authority and Centre for Excellence in Restoration.

“Yet, nothing significant has been done about these out of the $360million that is reported to have been released so far for the clean-up exercise. There is equally a mind-boggling disproportion between the said reported disbursed amount and the scope of job done in terms of remediation, environmental sustainability, livelihood enhancement”.

The letter further stated that it is obvious from the way activities connected to the clean-up are carried out that the lives of the Ogoni people have been tagged with prices and are being conspiratorially mortgaged for various forms of patronage and inordinate economic and political interests of some powerful and influential players outside of Ogoni.

“What else can account for the award of contracts for a highly technical job such as hydrocarbon pollution remediation to incompetent non-indigenous companies, whose only qualification is their possession of procured documents that are at a variance with their technical capabilities, and annoyingly so?

“Perhaps equally worrisome is the fact that persons who have been part of the problem in the first place are now being put in charge of critical aspects of the equation”.