Nigeria news : Federal Ministry Ogoni $1bn project: Magnus Abe warns Nigerian govt, HYPREP, Magnus Abe, former representative of the Rivers South-East Senatorial District, has warned the federal government that the $1billion Ogoni clean up must not be consumed by the “Nigerian factor”.
The Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) under the Federal Ministry of Environment is carrying out the exercise.
Last year, the House of Representatives recommended that HYPREP’s Account in Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc be frozen, pending investigations on the status of the account.
Abe, in a statement on Tuesday, said his greatest fear was that the money will be spent in the name of Ogoni with no lasting impact on the lives of the people.
He said: “A few days ago, I listened to the HYPREP Coordinator Dr. Marvin Dekil talking about the Ogoni clean-up. I was a bit worried and would like to request Dr. Dekil to give us some more information.
“We came up with the idea of converting the Centre of Excellence to a university that will become a lasting legacy from the Trust Fund that will endure the passage of time.”
Abe said Dekil’s explanation that each contract will provide a minimum of thirty-five local job opportunities raises more questions than answers.
“What is the nature of these thirty-five jobs Dr. Dekil talked about? Are they permanent placements? What level of employees are we talking about, and how long will they last”, Abe questioned.
“While we must thank HYPREP for these opportunities, I think the most important question for the Ogoni people should be who are these contractors and what number of these contractors are local?
“If the contracts require skills that are not locally available what deliberate policy is HYPREP adopting to grow local participation and expand lasting opportunities for the Ogoni people and businesses in the land?
“To argue the way Dr. Dekil did that HYPREP has no obligation to develop Ogoni because the development of Ogoni is not part of its core mandate is to accept the unacceptable.
“It is unacceptable that HYPREP can superintend over the disbursement of one billion Dollars named OGONI TRUST FUND and it will not matter if the Ogoni people benefit from it, as long as there is a remediation of impacted sites, because that is not the purpose of HYPREP. I reject that argument however sound the logic behind it”.
Abe added that President Muhammadu Buhari has done well to ensure HYPREP is well funded and urged those in charge of the project to do a good job.
“We must also remember that poverty and insecurity are the underlying foundation behind the continued pollution of Ogoni land. In trying to clean-up without addressing these critical issues, HYPREP will merely be wasting the clean-up funds because if illegal bunkering activities continue in the area during or after the clean-up, we will be back to square one”, he said.