The divesting Shell has serious obligation assigned to it in the exercise and if it is allow to hands-off the acreage now, the entire effort by both the federal government and UNEP at cleaning the massive oil spillage in the area would definitely run into a hitch.
This is the truth!
The UNEP report made recommendations for short, medium and long term measures.
Although there are gaps in the report itself, it provides sufficient grounds to begin emergency measures, like provision of potable water in highly polluted areas, as well as training centres to raise the manpower that would be needed to support the clean-up efforts.
Let’s recall that UNEP made seventy- six recommendations.
Fifty of the recommendations are for the government, twenty two for SPDC and four for Ogoni communities.
Prominent among the recommendation is the establishment of an Environmental Restoration Fund for Ogoni land, with an initial fund of $1 billion for capacity building, skill transfer and conflict resolution.
UNEP also recommended that the management of the fund ($1 billion) should be the responsibility of the Ogoniland Environmental Restoration Authority.
Buhari, on August 5, last year, after 68 days in office, approved many actions to fast-track the implementation of the UNEP report on Ogoni land, including the amendment of the official gazette establishing HYPREP, to reflect a new governance framework, comprising a Governing Council, Board of Trustees (BoT) and Project Management.
The President, who was represented by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on June 2, 2016 flagged off of the clean-up exercise at Patrick’s Waterside, Bodo-Ogoni in Gokana LGA of Rivers state.
Now, beyond the euphoria of fulfilling an electoral promise and mere verbal commitment by the federal government, what concrete steps or action are being taken on the clean –up exercise since it was flagged-off?
As rightly observed by Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, (ERA/FOEN), apart from the usual fan fair, there was no serious commitment by the government to the exercise.
The truth is that there is a need for the federal government to come out and state in clear and unambiguous terms both its commitment and that of Shell in the exercise as anything short of this would amount to dancing around the problem.
(Ifeanyi Izeze lives in Abuja: firstname.lastname@example.org; 234-8033043009)