After overcoming initial hiccups, the federal government has mobilised about 16 contractors for the remediation of Ogoniland oil spill. The government also said that the training and engagement of Ogoni youths and women, as part of the clean-up, is to enable them take ownership of the project.
The cheering news was made public yesterday by the minister of Environment, Hassan Suleiman Zarma, in Abuja when he received an 11-man delegation comprising of groups of Ambassadors from The Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom (UK), Germany, France, European Union (EU) and the United States (US) interested in the implementation of Ogoni clean-up project. He said that though the Ogoni clean-up might have started slowly, the government is building momentum to fast track it, adding that the Muhammadu Buhari administration is being careful in dealing with financial issues. Z
arma said that aside Ogoniland, there were other states that had been impacted by oil and toxic affluence such as Kaduna, Lagos and Kano, noting that the government would find a funding mechanism to address them. The minister maintained that the major focus of this administration is the clean-up of Ogoniland where oil companies had contributed money and resources before moving to other states impacted by oil activities.
The leader of the delegation, who is the deputy ambassador/Charge d’Affairs Netherlands, Michel Deepen, queried why there is a perception in Nigeria that the Ogoni clean-up exercise had been delayed. He asked for the plans by the federal government to tackle acute water problems in the community. On his part, the project coordinator of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), Dr. Marvin Dekil, hinted that the government had trained 15 indigenous scientists from Ogoni who were used for the demonstration project.
He lamented that the oil pollution in Ogoniland is devastating and has affected lives negatively, adding that sustained livelihood is one of the major mandates of HYPREP. Dekil said that HYPREP would soon commence the training of 1,200 women in the community, starting with the first 200, adding that United Nations (UN) would set up their office in Port Harcourt, Rivers State next month, having conducted an on- the-spot assessment in Ogoniland. He declared that international oil companies were satisfied with the clean-up which informed their release of the sum of $ 170 million into the Escrow account.