Critical stakeholders in the Ogoni cleanup have raised concerns over the delay in fast tracking the project to conclusion.
They are worried that, although the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), is a product of a federal government gazette, a future president who may not have the same viewpoint about the cleanup like President Muhammadu Buhari could jettison the project.
A statement issued by the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) at the end of a one-day town hall meeting on the Ogoni cleanup tagged Ogoni Clean-up: Where Are We? held in Port Harcourt recently, stated the discomfort of the stakeholders over the sensitive project.
The statement further said the meeting was specifically convened to review and have a clear understanding of the status, underlining issues and challenges encumbering the process from the perspectives of stakeholders, including HYPREP, communities and civil society, so as to re-strategise and deploy collective energies to resolving the imbroglio and advance the cleanup and remediation process to achieve a healthy and sustainable environment in the Niger Delta.
The release added that, the inability of Ogoni people to own the process has made engagement and interaction with the project, including monitoring by community people, absent.
“This is made worst by the selective employment of Ogoni youths and the challenge of casualisation with traditional rulers fingered in compromising expertise in the compilation of job list,” the statement said.
Participants noted that the expectation of Ogoni people over pecuniary benefits from the cleanup is high and this overtime snowballed into chieftaincy tussles, land disputes, and inter communal conflicts, which is a clog in the wheel of progress of the cleanup.
The town hall meeting which had an array of panelists, had representatives of HYPREP, legislators, monarchs and Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) and media practitioners among others in attendance.