Civil society organisations have decried the slow pace of work in the clean-up of the polluted Ogoni environment as recommended by the report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) exactly 10 years after the report was submitted to the federal government of Nigeria.
The organisations include the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), the Lekeh Development Foundation (LDF) and the Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC).
The groups, in a joint statement issued in Port Harcourt on Wednesday to mark the 10th anniversary of the UNEP Report, demanded for the immediate audit of the cleanup process to evaluate the progress based on the timelines and recommendations of the report.
The statement, which was signed by ERA/FoEN acting Executive Director, Barrister Chima Williams; HOMEF executive director, Rev. Nnimmo Bassey, and three others, also demanded for the identification and mapping of the entire polluted Niger Delta communities and elsewhere in Nigeria for cleanup.
The statement reads in part: “Today 4th August 2021 is the 10th year anniversary of the submission of the UNEP Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland Report to the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2011.
“The report was a crystallization of the many years of campaigns and agitations on the state of the environment of not just Ogoniland but the entire Niger Delta by environmental justice campaigners led by the iconic figure late Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa.
“We are afraid that if the current sluggish pace of work is maintained, the purpose of the cleanup would have been defeated because pollution would have moved further down beyond the depths first envisaged and in other cases, there could be re-pollution and contamination of sites not properly cleaned or decommissioned.
“We call on the government to show seriousness in the clean-up process and to commission an environmental audit exercise of the entire Niger Delta and commence a region-wide clean-up exercise.
“We demand the immediate audit of the cleanup process to evaluate progress made vis-à-vis the timelines and recommendations of the UNEP report. We demand the identification and mapping of the entire polluted Niger Delta communities and elsewhere in Nigeria for cleanup.
“We demand the carrying out of health auditing in the entire Niger Delta and elsewhere where oil and gas and other forms of extraction is taking place. The provision of potable drinking water for the people as envisioned in the emergency measures delineated by UNEP mand consistently demanded by the people.
“We demand the awarding of contracts for the refurbishment of six water projects is a first step towards a comprehensive water supply scheme for Ogoni communities. We demand the Construction of Centre of Excellence and Integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre for which HYPREP does not lack funds to do.”