Global Upfront Newspapers
Environment Interviews Uncategorized

Oil pollution kills Ogoni people instalmentally – Dr Kabari

Iruoma Douglas, Port Harcourt

An environmentalist and Head, Environment and Conservation, Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), Dr Sam Kabari has urged the federal government to speed up the cleanup of Ogoniland as oil pollution in the area is killing Ogoni people instalmentally. In this interview with our Port Harcourt Correspondent, Iruoma Douglas, Kabari noted that just as the world is giving keen attention to Coronavirus (COVID-19) which kills instantly, the Nigeria government should also give serious attention to the Ogoni cleanup to end sudden deaths in the area.

How would you rate the Ogoni environmental remediation process by Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPRREP) and what are the striking challenges faced presently by affected communities? 

Dr Kabari: The cleanup is ongoing. As we already know there are challenges from every side, from the community, HYPREP and also from other stakeholders. The major challenge has been the slow pace of the cleanup. We thought that the cleanup will be faster than is going but for some obvious reasons it has been extremely slow. One of the reasons it has been slow, according to HYPREP, is the procurement process. But I don’t know if HYPREP is expecting that the Nigerian processes should have been suspended because they want to cleanup Ogoni. What we think is, if HYPREP had outlined plans with which they want to maybe implement or achieve successful milestone, given that they are working under the Ministry of Environment, they should understand that procurement takes some time and they should work within that space of time to do their applications or request for money, get it and implement what they are doing. But they have not demonstrated that understanding.

Again, before now, we were thinking money is a problem. But obviously, in the last one month or thereabout, HYPREP has plenty of money which they have spent just about five per cent. We understand that when they went to the Senate what they did was to show the Senate their bank statement showing that they are accruing interest. So, they are not a development bank. Their mandate was not to accrue interest. Their mandate is to cleanup polluted sites in Ogoniland, using the money. So, if instead of using the money to cleanup Ogoni and what they are doing is to leave money in the bank to accrue interest, then there is a missing gap. It is either they don’t have the capacity to spend the money or they don’t know what to spend the money on.

Also, HYPREP internal process is another challenge we have. For Civil Society Organisations, we do not have a key performance indicator to monitor what HYPREP is doing and that key performance indicator is what can help us head in an independent monitoring of the process. But if we do not have key performance indicator it is going to be difficult for us to monitor the process and we cannot develop key performance indicator for HYPREP.

Is HYPREP working according to UNEP Report as regards emergency major remediation?

In terms of the emergency measures, we are seeing a situation where HYPREP seem to have jettisoned the emergency measures because things like the health tagging of the people in the impacted communities and monitoring them overtime, HYPREP is not doing that. But rather, what we saw was health outreach which is not what is recommended in the UNEP Report. Also, is of concern to us if HYPREP actually understand that the emergency measures were supposed to exceed the actual remediation. But if they are jumping into remediation without considering emergency measures, it is also a concern to a number of stakeholders. Right now, there has been pressure on HYPREP to actually implement the UNEP Report, given that they have the available funds which what we are thinking would have been a challenge. But now, of the $260million that has been given to HYPRREP, they have all been able to spend $38million, according to the Project Coordinator of HYPREP. There are a number of challenges, at the moment it looks like everything is standing still.

What is the implication of this HYPREP slowness in the cleanup exercise on the impacted communities?

The implication is that people will continue to drink water with hydrocarbon contaminations, people will continue to not having clean land to cultivate their crops. People will continue to lose land to oil pollution. People will continue to be involved in artisanry refineries. People will not be able to fish because the rivers are not clean yet. People will also continue to die in poverty. People will continue to have cancer in the land. People will continue not to be able to engage on their cultural practices as a result of oil spills. So, there are a number of negative impacts on the affected communities as long as the cleanup stands still.

Currently, the world is facing a serious health crisis resulting from Coronavirus which has claimed so many lives. How would you compare this challenge to that impact of environmental degradation in Ogoni, which has also supposedly led to so many deaths?

Coronavirus kills almost immediately but oil pollution kills instalmentally. So, until you get to the point where you have cancer, people don’t really see you to be suffering anything. Coronavirus is a global issue. The Ogoni cleanup is a local issue. It is a Nigeria issue. So, the kind of attention the world gives to a global issue is not the type Nigeria gives to its own local issues. So, the main point is that the oil pollution in Ogoni is an instrumental killer, given the secondary impact like ‘Soot’ that we are breathing in is an instrumental killer. Coronavirus, because of the medium of transmission, it kills faster and easier than the oil pollution. The most important thing to stress here that Coronavirus kills almost immediately while oil spill pollution kills instrumentally 

What is your call to the federal government as regards hastening up the cleanup of Ogoniland?

In real countries in the world, oil pollution is given emergency mandate. And so, my call to the federal government will be to give the Ogoni cleanup an accelerated attention. Let people that are in charge of the cleanup use the money that have been voted for the process to undertake the activities that will restore livelihood in the communities, activities that will provide portable drinkable water to the people, activities that will restore polluted surface and underground waters in the area. This is the only way the government can renew the trust and confidence of the Ogoni people and the wider Niger Delta in the Nigerian government. Now, the government said that HYPREP will undertake the cleanup of the whole Niger Delta. And if HYPREP is struggling with Ogoni, we are a bit concerned and worried if HYPREP will be able to clean other parts of the Niger Delta because HYPREP at the moment is still on the land. They have not gotten to the coastal remediation which is more difficult and technical than the cleanup of the land. So, we are urging the government to take the Ogoni cleanup seriously and ensure that it translates to the development of the Ogoni people and the whole Niger Delta.

Advertize With Us

See Also

Try this 2 fruits and 3 vegetables per day diet for longevity: Harvard Study

Global Upfront

Early results promising for potential COVID-19 vaccine to be tested on Canadians

Global Upfront

17 Chinese nationals, 10 others arrested for illegal mining in Osun State

Global Upfront

Zamfara Governor continues peace talks with bandits despite ongoing military operations

Global Upfront

Four Nigerians convicted for robbing Ecobank Liberia of $207, 799, to be deported back to Nigeria

Global Upfront

Fans mourn with Actress Mary Lazarus as she loses mum

Global Upfront

Buhari signs Climate Change, AMCON (Amendment) bills into law

Global Upfront

Contempt Of Court In Nigeria: What The Cases Of Three Convicted Security Chiefs Tell Us

Global Upfront

Boko Haram/ISWAP Ram Explosives-laden Vehicle Into Marte, Lake Chad Basin Military Post, Kill 10 Soldiers

Global Upfront

Four shot dead as bandits return to Kagara after release of abducted schoolboys, staff

Global Upfront

This website uses Cookies to improve User experience. We assume this is OK...If not, please opt-out! Accept Read More