UNEP Report: We are Giving Fresh Hope to Ogoniland Clean-up, says Alison-Madueke

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Attachment-1 (1) Minister Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke speaks on renewed moves by Federal Government to rev up environmental restoration work in Ogoniland in an interview journalists in Abuja. By SundiataPOST

Question: issue environmental degradation in Ogoniland has been a protracted . Their crusade for social appears to have merely created an intractable stalemate.

Answer: It is indeed a protracted challenge dating back several administrations. But I don’t agree that it is an intractable challenge. As many other long standing unresolved issues in our polity, Mr. President has demonstrated required will and has put a map actions and engagements in place to move Ogoniland challenge out of a stalemate situation. challenges had been escalated by an initial break down in trust but we have been able to create a broad base stakeholders involvement approach and have put a structure in place which we are presently aggressively fine tuning for the purpose of achieving remediation, restoration and reconciliation. You may wish to recall that in July 2012, the President approved the establishment of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) as a Special Unit under the Ministry Of Petroleum Resources. HYPREP is the vehicle for the implementation of the actionable recommendations of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on Environmental Restoration in Ogoniland. I have signed the draft gazette for the establishment of HYPREP and it has been forwarded to the Ministry of for publication. This document will provide the rule of law guiding the implementation of the UNEP .

Question: How is Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) different from other government contraptions over the years?

Answer: The use of the word contraption may reflect a grasp of how government works but the principal differences in our own initiatives is our sincerity of purpose and the solution-focused will of this administration. Having said that, you also need to know that the HYPREP intervention is private sector driven funding from major Oil-Companies operating in Nigeria. Government’s involvement is to the extent of ensuring that funds released are judiciously utilized to fully ensure a robust implementation of the UNEP recommendations.

Question: What are the United Nations’ pertinent recommendations for the short, medium and long term management of the Ogoniland environmental issue?

Answer: The is in the public domain, I believe. For a start, there are clear suggestions as to institutional structures that will be required to administer remedial actions. The recommendations spread across government, public health, environmental, operational and community issues that need to be addressed. It’s a holistic approach which brings the views of all the stakeholders on board.

In addition, the suggested eight emergency measures that must be taken during the ‘Transition Phase’ while the institutional framework for implementing the various recommendations is being put in place. The UNEP initiated a survey of all drinking water wells around those wells where were observed and arranged measures based on the results. Their recommendation includes: a) Ensure that all drinking water wells where were detected are marked and that people are informed of the danger; b) Provide adequate sources of drinking water to those households whose drinking water supply is impacted; c) People in Nsisioken Ogale who have been consuming water with benzene over 900 times the WHO guideline are recorded on a medical registry and their health status assessed and followed up; d) Post signs around all the sites identified as having contamination exceeding intervention values warning the community to walk through or engage in any other activities at these sites; e) Post signs in areas where were observed on surface water warning people to fish, swim or bathe in these areas; f) Inform all families whose rainwater samples tested positive for hydrocarbons and advise them to consume the water; and g) Mount a public awareness campaign to warn the individuals who are undertaking artisanal refining that such activity are damaging their health.

The approved HYPREP structure provides for seven Technical Working Groups (TWGs) which will operate under the supervision of a National Coordinator who shall in turn report to me. I provided overall leadership for the restoration project. Also, there is an Advisory , Chaired by my colleague, the Honourable Minister of Environment composed of Ministers/CEOs of stakeholder MDAs and members from other constituencies to guide and provide oversight to the activities of HYPREP. A Monitoring and Sustainability Group in partnership with organisations from the United Nations (UNEP, UNDP, etc) will enforce compliance and sustainability. Members of the TWGs are to be drawn from federal and State Agencies, Academia, the Oil Industry, and the communities. So you can see there is nothing ad hoc or like a contraption about our initiative. This is a serious commitment to resolve a serious issue in a sustainable way.