The Federal Executive Council (FEC) Wednesday approved over N6 billion for the provision of water for four local governments affected by environmental pollution in Rivers state.
Minister of Environment, Mr Mohammed Mahmood, said this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly FEC meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“My memo today was approved and was with regard to the provision of potable water to the four local governments of Ogoniland of Rivers State; that is Gokana, Khana, Eleme and Tai, in the sum of N6,048,318,974.74.
“If you recall, the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, otherwise known as HYPREP, was commissioned in 2016 to clean Ogoniland, impacted areas of Ogoniland, based on a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The mandate of the project is not just cleaning up the contaminated areas by oil pollution, but also to provide drinking water and three to also provide alternative livelihood for the people of that area.
“This is a project that previous governments have tried to do, but it just turned out to just be you know, just talk, but President Buhari, in 2015 when he promised, this thing started in 2016 and currently, there will be six water projects that will be provided in this for local governments of Ogoniland and this has just been approved and work will start immediately.
“They are in different prices and also different completion periods, I think ranging from six months all the way to nine months, depending on the atmosphere. It’s rehabilitation and construction and some of these will link with the River State government’s water system,” he said.
On the Ogoni clean up exercise, the minister said 15 oil polluted sites have been cleaned up in Ogoniland, stressing that completion of the exercise was delayed by the attitude of some of the communities involved.
“Yes, we have some delays. And this was evident when we came to assess the project and we went all the way to Geneva, and met with UNEP and that’s the agency United Nations Environment Programme that designed the project, conducted the studies and made the recommendations.
“When we came back, I went and explained to the President that according to their record, we were behind by just one year. And we sought for approval to make some changes, and he graciously approved. And we have made those changes. And between then, and now 15 sites have been cleaned up and certified, clean.
“So, there was a delay of one year. Yes, but then we have progressed. Now I can say that within the last one year, we have done up to 15. So, there’s tremendous progress. And we are trying to push to catch up with the time, still maybe behind by months.
“But this is a project that you want to take time to do and do it Well. we are talking about the livelihood of people contaminated with soil by hydrocarbons, these are cancer causing chemicals, or we call them carcinogens. So, one to make sure that when we’re trying to speed up, but also have been careful to make sure it’s clean and is clean to the standard of the World Health Organisation and the standard set also by UNEP.
“So, you have these hiccups from the beginning and maybe from the beginning and also you have issues also in the area, you know because there are some issues with the land, maybe communities that are in dispute or not letting in access as they should and all that stuff.
“These are really some of the reasons but If I tell you that we have awarded additional contracts about 36, but it took us about five to six months to even access some of the sites that have already been contracted out because some communities are in dispute and will not let us go into the land even commence the cleaned up until just recently, not more than three months ago, that we’re able to get them to understand we’re not there for land dispute, but for clean up, and once you get the clean up done, whoever get the land, gets a clean land,”he said.
Also speaking, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Mrs Sadiya Umar Farouk, said the council approved N2,123,035,499billionaward of contract for the design, development, deployment and management of the National Social Investment Management System for the National Social Investment Programme.
“This system is going to be used to take care of the issues of N-Power Programme, N-SIP Programme, National Cash Transfer Programme, as well as National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme.
“We are starting with N-Power, which is the one before us. It is very immediate.
Afterwards, we will key other clusters of the National Social Investment Programme into this platform. The Council has graciously approved and we will go ahead.
“The contract is in the sum of N2,123,035,499.96 inclusive of 7.5 % VAT with a completion period of 24 months,” she said.