as oil firms contributed N64.8bn into Escrow account
Worried about the slow pace of work on Ogoni clean up , the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), has raised fresh concerns over the clean-up of oil pollution in Ogoniland.
Also, it noted that International Oil Companies (IoCs) have so far contributed about $180 million (about N64.8 billion) of the expected $200m into the London escrow account of the Standard Chartered Bank for the $1 billion Ogoni clean up.
Speaking at a media engagement programme in Lagos, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre ,Programme Manager, Kolawole Banwo, emphasized issues affecting the exercise such as the status of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project, Stressing that HYPREP was perceived to be sluggish due to bureaucracy, politicisation and low level of responsiveness.
He said, “Emergency measures (health audit, alternative livelihoods and potable water) are perceived to be delayed, inadequate or poorly implemented. The risks and effects remain, re-pollution continues through artisanal mining and oil spills.”
Banwo noted that the $180 million was separate from the $10million released by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) for initial administrative expenses.
Banwo also decried the absence of the integrated contaminated soil management centre.
He said, “The 25-year journey and struggle for the clean-up of Ogoniland and the Niger Delta region is a challenge to our shared humanity. It is about the lives of real people whose only offence is that petroleum resources, which drive our economy, are found in their land.”
Speaking on the United Nation Environmental Report (UNEPR) on Ogoniland released in August 2011, Banwo said the multinational oil companies, Shell JV, which comprise of NNPC, Total, Agip Oil Company (NAOC) are expected to contribute 90 percent of the $1 billion clean-up fund in the first five years while Port-Harcourt is expected to contribute $300 million into the fund. The Clean -up exercise will take 25-30 years to accomplish, the report noted.
“Sequel to ground-breaking ceremony for the Integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre in February 2017 performed in Bori by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, the federal government had incorporation of the Ogoni Trust Fund and Escrow Account opened in Standard Chartered Bank of London for the board of trustee of HYPREP and credited with $180m in 2018. Mobilization of contractor and hand-over of sites to contractors handing over 16 polluted sites to companies that would clean them up in December 2018,” he noted.
Despite the contributions from the oil firms, according to Banwo there is nothing on ground adding that there is absence of the integrated contaminated soil management centre which comprising an incinerator, thermal unit, soil washing unit and a contaminated water treatment unit
He called on HYPREP to immediately commence the implementation of the livelihood component of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report.
According to him, the findings of UNEP Environmental Assessment Report on Ogoniland underline that there are, in a significant number of locations, serious threats to human health from contaminated drinking water to concentrate over the viability and productivity of ecosystems.
He said, “Oil pollution in many intertidal creeks has left mangroves denuded of leaves and stems. When an oil spill occurs on land, fires often break out, killing vegetation and creating a crust over the land.
“The Ogoni community is exposed to petroleum hydrocarbons in outdoor air and drinking water, sometimes at elevated concentrations.”
He noted that former president, Goodluck Jonathan, set up a government committee to review the report and make recommendations on immediate and long remedial actions in Ogoni.
HYPREP, which was established in July 2012, was re-established under the Federal Ministry of Environment as published in the Federal Government gazette No. 176, Vol. 103 of December 2016, he said.
Banwo noted that the Ogoni clean-up exercise was launched by the current government in June 2016.
However, reacting to the Ogoni Restoration Fund contributions update, spokesperson for the SPDC, Bamidele Odugbesan, said the SPDC JV actually contributed a total of $180million at the end of 2018.
He said: “SPDC actively supports the clean-up process as a member of the Governing Council and Board of Trustees to oversee HYPREP to implement the UNEP Report in Ogoniland.
“The SPDC JV provided $10 million in 2017 to help set up the HYPREP office. $170 million was deposited into an escrow account in 2018 and $180 million will be allocated by the JV to fund HYPREP’s activities each year from 2019 to 2022”, he stated.
According to the HYPREP Gazette, a copy of which was made available to our correspondent, the SPDC JV comprising SPDC, NNPC, Total and Agip, are to contribute 90 percent of the $1billion cleanup fund for the first five years of the exercise. Refineries and other local operators are to contribute 5 percent each.
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