By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja
In 2012, the Nigerian government established the Hydrocarbons Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) to help with the clean-up of Ogoni land and impacted communities. The anachronistic name was changed to Hydrocarbons Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in 2016 when the cleanup was flagged off.
However, Project Coordinators for the job have come and gone, and a new one has again been appointed.
Congratulating the newly appointed of HYPREP coordinator, Professor Nenibarini Zabbey, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) noted that he must resolve to do things differently, stressing that transparency, focus and inclusion of all relevant stakeholders must be key in the operations.
HOMEF also called for regular consultations in which projected milestones are shared and achieved targets are presented.
The Director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, noted that with Zabbey’s pedigree as an academician and activist, the expectations of stakeholders are high and failure is not an option. He adds that things must be done differently and the complex pollution sites must be tackled resolutely.
“We applaud the appointment of Prof. Nenibari Zabbey. Who has deep knowledge of the Ogoni environment and has done important researches in the area and in the wider Niger Delta region.
This appointment coming 12 years after the UNEP report should signify a turning point in the sluggish manner by which the clean-up has been approached”
Bassey further explains that time is of essence as the situation gets worse with every passing day. “While we congratulate Prof. Zabbey on this appointment, we equally take the opportunity to register some key urgent demands and hope that he uses his office to advocate for a comprehensive health and environmental audit of Ogoni land, the entire Niger Delta and wherever there has been negative impacts of hydrocarbons exploration and exploitation.”
HOMEF urged the Project Coordinator to make accountability and transparency key planks of his tenure.
Professor Zabbey who is a Professor of Biomonitoring and Restoration Ecology, at the Department of Fisheries, University of Port Harcourt, also coordinates the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) – a respected civil society organization.
HOMEF called on the Federal Government of Nigeria, and the oil and gas industry to begin a comprehensive clean-up of the Niger Delta region and take coordinated action to end to all forms of pollution including gas flaring, noting that the clean-up of Ogoni has taken longer than necessary despite the available resources and manpower made available.