By Anayo Onukwugha, Port Harcourt
A group, the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (ACLSD), has called on the federal government and its various structures to free the Hydrocarbon Remediation Project (HYPREP), from the bureaucracies, in order to enable it perform the interventionist roles and responsibilities it was set up for.
ACLSD’s Executive Director, Monday Osasah, who made the call yesterday in a quarterly media roundtable in Port Harcourt, noted that the Federal Ministry of Environment and HYPREP were supposed to handle the clean-up of Ogoniland as a humanitarian intervention and made to enjoy some waivers.
Osasah however expressed regrets that the project was being subjected to the bureaucracies of govemment, thus putting a lull in the clean-up process.
While charging HYPREP to review its livelihood programme to cover not only human capital development, but to also include social, physical, financial and natural development, the group urged all stakeholders should work together towards thebachievement of the overall objective of achieving a healthy and sustainable environment in the Niger Delta rather than engaging in unnecessary antagonism
He said: “Government and the various structures managing and supervising HYPREP
should work to ensure that it is freed from the bureaucracies associated with the civil service so it can perform the interventionıst roles and
responsibilities allotted to it by the gazette establishing it.
“Though HYPREP has trained some artisanal refiners on ivelıhood initiatives, the community seems not to put measures in place to address the menace of artisanal refining by youth groups in the communities to address the challenges of re-pollution. The incidences of security operatives allegedly aiding the process is also worrisome.
“In iine with the recommendation of the UNEP, HYPREP shouid proritise the establishment of the proposed Integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre and Centre of Excellence to facilitate the creation of sustainable jobs and proper management of hazardous wastes generated from the clean-up exercise.
“HYPREP should make public its key performance indicators (KPIs) to facilitate independent monitoring of its work. In addition, it should grant approval to credible and responsible groups who are interested in monitoring the clean-up process, to ascertain the level of work done so far.”
Osasah urged impacted communities to show ownership of the exercise by getting more involved and participating effectively in the cleanup process, while calling on the
HYPREP’s CRAC team to ensure that conflicts emanatung from communities are
dealt with expeditiously.
He said: “Civil society organizations should build their capacities more on the issues and assist with capacity development to advance the clean up.
“The media should continue to act as the mouthpiece of the people and support the process by providing unbiased and objective reportage of the exercise to facilitate responsive and responsible actions from relevant stakeholders as a way to ensure that the right thing is done by all.”