The Ogoni – American organizations; National Union of Ogoni Students, NUOS Int’l USA, Center for Democracy Human
Rights and Anti- Corruption and Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP have urged the Federal Government of Nigeria, led President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, through the Ministry of the Niger Delta Development, on the need to clean up oil spills in Ogoniland, Rivers State and bring more development to the area.
While congratulating the newly appointed Minister of Niger Delta Development, Abubakar Momoh, the groups said that it is time for the ministry to look into the land that had been producing the wealth of the nation.
According to them, almost all the previous administrations in the country have done little or nothing to develop Ogoniland in Rivers State, which they said has been suffering deprivation owing to oil spillage and total neglect.
The groups maintained that the people of Ogoniland they have suffered the devastation of their ecosystems and land.
They explained that HYPREP has achieved little or nothing in cleaning up the Ogoni area “but instead, has turned the cleaning into a fat cat rectitude, scammed and fraud, while we call on the FG to launch or conduct a forensic probe and investigation into HYPREP daylight robbery.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released its Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland in August 2011.
The report was commissioned by and delivered to the Federal Government of Nigeria. It made recommendations to the government, the oil and gas industry and communities to begin a comprehensive cleanup of Ogoniland, restore polluted environments and put an end to all forms of ongoing oil contamination in the region.
UNEP assessed that the environmental restoration of Ogoniland would require coordinated efforts on the part of government agencies at all levels, industry operators and communities.
UNEP also presented its recommendations as a major opportunity to bring new investment, employment opportunities and a culture of cooperation to Ogoniland in addition to driving improvements in the environmental and health situation on the ground.
Recall that several oil companies, including Shell, set up operations in the 1950s in Ogoniland and since then, the land, water, and air have been polluted to such a great extent that the Ogoni people’s livelihood is threatened.
Between 1976 and 1991, over two million barrels of oil polluted Ogoniland in 2,976 separate oil spills. While oil production has ceased, pipelines operated by Shell still traverse the land, creeks and waterways.
The group added in a recent statement jointly signed by the President of NOUS Int’l USA, Pius Barikpoa Nwinee, it’s Secretary General, Sampson B Npimnee, Coordinator, CDHRAC Int’l, USA, Cornelius Dumerenee, and its Secretary General, Toate Ganago made available to journalists, that the Niger Delta Development Ministry must rise to the occasion and bring the long-awaited development to Ogoniland.
“NUOS INTL, CDHRAC AND MOSOP wish to call on the Ministry of Niger Delta Development to ensure a total clean-up of Ogoniland and compensate the people of the area for the loss they have suffered over the years.
“Our people have been deprived of their means of livelihood and they have been left to suffer in a nation, where they have contributed a lot to through their natural resources.
“Rather than developing Ogoniland through the clean-up projects embarked upon by the ministry few years back, what has plagued the project is the government and HYPREP kick-back and kick-front, the government’s refusal to hire competent international remediation firms and HYPREP hiring unqualified contractors that placate and perpetuated more contamination in the area.
“HYPREP is now saying that it is engaging in nursery mangroves despite the fact that HYPREP has no professional experience in nursery mangroves planting or has contracted any professional in nursery mangroves with capacity,” the group said.
According to the group, the activities of HYREP, which they said they have consistently criticised, leave much to be desired, adding that the federal government has failed Ogoniland.
“As a people, we cannot allow Shell Oil company to use our land to achieve their own selfish purposes. They took resources away from our land, so they must be ready to be responsible for the arm they caused our people, who have been suffering in silence.
“Our position is that Shell Oil cannot continue to pollute our land without accepting responsibilities for what they ought to do. The Federal Government ought to be proactive and ensure that HYREP carries out its duties effectively and end years of suffering that the Ogoni people have had to endure,” they said.
The groups had, in a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, recommended that an international remediation firm reputed with complex knowledge best practices in deforestation, coastal erosion and ecosystem remediation should “take over the ongoing cleaning of the Royal Dutch Shell decades of oil pollution and ecological war as well as end the HYPREP cutting corner policies in the area.”
They urged the “United Nations to make the declaration in part, to protect Ogoniland and Ogoni people from the Royal Dutch Shell’s decades of environmental misery and in whole, to stop Nigerian government and the Royal Dutch Shell from further subjecting Ogoni, Ogoniland and Ogoni people to the Royal Dutch Shell’s ongoing occupational pandemic.”
The groups urged the United Nations “to declare a state of climate and health emergency in Ogoniland or impress it upon the Nigeria government and the Royal Dutch Shell to immediately contract international remediation firms with professional experience and technical know-how capacity to stop this man-made outbreak misery.”
According to the groups, time has come for the government to “correct the anomaly of the past rather than looking for an escape route over what should be their responsibility as a government that is benefitting from the same land.
The groups suggested that the Nigerian government should “impress it upon UNEP to re-cost the project to cushion the long delay, inflation and recent or ongoing pollution to find lasting solutions to the issues of corruption confronting the entire clean up in the area.”
They added that “The devastation of Ogoniland should not be allowed to continue unabated so that the situation will not get out of hand.”
“We are calling on the new administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to make life better for our people. There is no way life would continue the way it is in the area at the moment.
“Our people deserve the best at this material time and we will not allow the degradation in the land to continue unending.
“We demand an end to the suffering of our people so that they can live a normal life like other Nigerians, especially at this period that Nigerians are battling with serious economic crisis.”