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RE: Ogoni Clean-Up-95 Percent Ogonis Involved in Exercise----Nigerian government

By Ben Ikari

My attention has been drawn to the above headline reported in Nigerian Guardian of July 15, 2019 and other news platforms. It's credited to Dr. Marvin Dekil, the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) Coordinator, when he reportedly spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

This development should be a great thing assuming Nigeria and $hell, other reckless polluters who cover-up Ogoni pollution for the last 50 years were honest and serious. They haven't been honest and currently aren't but involved in the use of propaganda and out-right lies which contradict the realities on the ground in Ogoni.

Their interest, guise for cleanup as demonstrated by Buhari and his junta recently through NNPC/NPDC and others is to resume oil production in Ogoni. This is despite the deadly pollution and contamination which the federal government of Nigeria, $hell and others have refused to clean 8 years after UNEP report and recommendations came out in August 2011.

My concern at the moment therefore isn't whether 90 percentage of workforce and another 95 percent of technical team in Ogoni-HYPREP project are Ogonis. Of course, these percentages are very important and must be when serious work starts and not the media cleanup and restoration work which Dr. Marvin Dekil, an Ogoni man himself who has no decision-making power but instructed on what to do by a largely non-Ogoni HYPREP’s management team, which includes $hell and NNPC, other polluters, appears to be used to perpetuate.

Rather, my concern is whether the work is actually taking place and those handling it, or will handle it when work starts are qualified contractors. Ogonis and interested public members have to be sure these contractors aren't the 100 or nearly 100 percent Nigerian contractors, which Premium Times recently reported were grossly unqualified.

It's on record that on May 5, 2019, Premium Times did an analysis of these contractors in a report titled: "How Buhari Administration Awarded Ogoni Cleanup Contracts To Unqualified Firms."

Note that what HYPREP summarily asserted on its Website ( www.HYPREP.gov.ng ) to have qualified these companies reported to be unqualified is: the selection was based on Nigeria’s Procurement Act; and they met the government requirements of properly registering their businesses, including these businesses are in active statuses. The agency also claimed these firms' selection was in line with local content policy of the government, and that they showed memoranda of understanding indicating their partnership with local and foreign companies which have the technical and financial capacity.

Also, the firms weren’t required to have five years’ service experience before applying but to show details of experience providing environmental remediation services of hydrocarbon impacted soil/groundwater comparable in scope and complexity to the assignment of interest in the last five (5) years.

These requirements are the popular methods by which Nigerians in power grant contracts to family members and friends who registered a business irrespective of companies actual age, tested experience and positive track record of oil-based pollution cleanup and remediation to say a few in this context. Obviously, something isn't right here...so Ogonis and other public observers interested in best practices and saving the environment must wake up to demanding competent and seasoned contractors. What Premium Times reported isn’t too different from the reasons HYPREP claimed these companies were granted such sensitive contracts.

Consequently, Ogoni cleanup and remediation project must not be a testing and dumping ground for local incompetent contractors whose only real qualification as attested by HYPREP is a paper which can be forged the Nigerian way, that shows partnership with local and foreign companies with requisite expertise and financial standing. Considering the scientific nature of this project which demands technical expertise and requisite equipment and tools, why accept incompetent firms if other local firms which have substantive qualifications alongside foreign ones are those they’d have partnership; why not limit application to the latter firms if honest and serious?

Meanwhile, HYPREP mentioned in the above titled report of July 15, that it's committed to the cleanup standard mandated by UNEP, Nigerian government and the International oil companies. Ogonis and friends have to be sure government and oil companies' standards aren't the ones $hell Oil was using and UNEP recommended that they'd be discontinued.

As represented on Pages 142 of UNEP’s report, $hell was using the Remediation by Enhanced Natural Attenuation (RENA) method, which didn't work as shown by evidence of contamination in sites which remediation work has been completed. $hell was reportedly using sand to cover the pollution with the vain expectation that the pollution will naturally disappear.

UNEP’s report indicates that pollution was still in some depth beneath the top soil areas. It says $hell also allowed pollution on the creeks or river surfaces to flow away and disappear without cleaning and remediating stagnant creeks or rivers. Such $hell's methods are reported by UNEP to be as a result of a "Global Solution Report based on desk study and no fieldwork was undertaken."

Pages 145 and 146 of the report have UNEP's arguments against Environmental Terrorist $hell's Remediation Methods. As with several recommendations to Nigerian government which may not have been met, I haven't seen any document attesting to the fact that $hell has ceased using its cruel methods. As a result Ogonis must pay serious attention to these details, most of which neither the Nigerian government nor $hell is following.

In addition, if UNEP said it saw huge pollution in Andoni creeks near Ogoni villages and resulting possibly from underground or cross border migration, and we know there is deadly pollution and degradation in Gio, Ogoni, where oil production facility is absent the need arise for extensive investigation, identification and possible remediation throughout Ogoni. This is if pollution and contamination sites are discovered in non-traditional Ogoni villages hosting oil facilities.

And if $hell didn't report its contamination sites in Bodo West, which I'm not sure the location is Ogoni since UNEP said it's in Bonny Local government Area, and also reported that it received insufficient information for it to locate and assessed pollution sites as some firms such as Port Harcourt Company and Pipelines and Products Marketing Company ( see page 93 and more) refused to provide information regarding possible oil contamination or spills, it means there could be or are several sites which may not have been reported for assessment.

Implying there could be more work needed to ascertain all contamination sites and degree of pollution beyond traditional communities hosting oil facilities and have directly suffered severe pollution and degradation. Of course, both rain water like river or creek sources interconnect Ogoni villages and beyond. Air pollution also doesn't confine itself but moves beyond pollution locations. And sadly, Nigeria had no air quality indicator and standard when UNEP completed its assignment.

There is no documentation to my knowledge indicating the country currently has air quality indicators or measures. Therefore, Ogonis and the international community should be on alert. Given the negative, corrupt and criminal history of Nigerian government, its agencies and $hell in Ogoni and other oil communities, Ogonis should, and must watch closely.

There is need to demand the best of international standard else these evil entities will cook their usual tinted reports claiming the project has been completed as evident in alleged remediated pollution sites seen by UNEP team. Ogoni will remain polluted, and the people will not cease suffering and dying in huge numbers as a result of such recklessness. Any work put in will be futile if such fate befalls Ogoni.The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) and Ogonis will also have serious setback with the hope to starting the process again. Therefore, absolute care must be taken to ensuring the cleanup and other elements of the project such as sustainable development are done right!

Ben Ikari, is a Human and Environmental Rights/Justice Advocate; author of Ken Saro-Wiwa and MOSOP: The Story and Revelation.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Ben Ikari and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."