Communiqué of the Roundtable on the Review of the Implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Assessment Report on Ogoni Land
The roundtable which centred on the Environmental Assessment Report of the United Nations Environmental Programme had participants drawn from diverse disciplines including environmental experts, the academia, traditional rulers, community members, governmental and non-governmental players, civil society actors and the media.
The roundtable had a presentation on “Overview of Recommendation of UNEP Report on Ogoni Land” by Dr. Foluso A. Fagbeja which dwelt on the factors that necessitated the report of which he identified as widespread despoliation of bio-diversity of Ogoni land by oil exploitation, livelihood dislocation and consequent violence in the area.
He x-rayed the report and what has so far been done in its regard pointing out that while much has not been done, the few steps taken so far in setting up and re-positioning/re-structuring the Hydrocarbon pollution restoration project, HYPREP – the mechanism through which government intends to carry out clean up recommendations of the report, were good adding that what was needed was for government to muster up the will to move the process forward by composing the manpower to man the HYPREP structure as well as setting up a governing board for the project.
The meeting deliberated extensively on all the issues related to the report including the HYPREP structure and process as well as other contagious environmental, health and social issues in the regard. It observed that while HYPREP may have been re-structured, it still had a lopsided composition of oil companies majority in its structure against community and civil society stakeholders. The same with its disproportionate funding pattern of ninety percent oil companies funding.
The meeting noted that despite the grave revelations of the report and the urgency of its recommendations, implementation has sadly been hindered by political encumbrances. It worried that continued delay in the implementation of the report was worsening the environmental, health, social and economic problems in the area.
Participants also pointed out that whereas the entire Niger delta region was hydrologically contagious, no attempt has been made to assess the state of other parts of the region.
After exhaustive deliberations, the meeting resolved as follows;
1. That the cleanup of the Ogoni environment needs to be kick started immediately.
2. That the governing structure of HYPREP should be set up without any further delay.
3. That HYPREP needs to be restructured in such a way that there will be more civil society and community representation, different from the current overt and unbalanced leaning towards oil companies.
4. That Key indicators need be adopted and milestones established to monitor the implementation of the cleanup exercise with verification means/process embedded into it.
5. That for the avoidance of suspicion and aversion of possible social crisis, it is imperative to set up, transparency mechanisms for all expenditure that will be associated with the cleanup process.
6. That there needs to be effective social mobilization and education activities anchored on awareness by community people to guard against false expectations on what the cleanup funding is meant to meet.
7. That a law and/or other necessary legal frameworks be enacted to give HYPREP a constitutional backing and thus statutory budgetary funding/allocation.
8. That in view of its complicity in oil exploitation and its consequent devastations, HYPRED should be excised from the Ministry of Petroleum and embedded in the Ministry of Environment.
9. That consequent upon the fact that the entire Niger Delta area being towns and communities therein are hydrological contagious, there should be carried out, a Delta – wide environmental assessment or audit to determine the integrity of the environment.
10. That cleanup of the many years of oil exploitation should not depend on Oil Company funding alone. The federal government should develop a regular and efficient funding pattern to address oil related pollution. This is currently not being adequately addressed by the ecological fund.
11. That the Ogoni Environmental Restoration Authority should be created with funding separate from HYPREP.
Head, Social Action, Abuja
Prof. Ben Naanen University of Port Harcourt
Dr Mofoluso Fagbeja Consultant
Akpobari Celestine Ogoni Solidarity Forum – Nigeria
Olaniyi Olaloku Independent Consultant
Veronica Akpan Frontier Oil Limited
Sam Atara Frontier Oil
Jaye Gaskia Protest to Power/Praxis Centre
Chief Kobani Bere
Prof. Berineme B. Fakae Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST)
HRH Mene Stephen Kpea Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP)
Ibrahim Clark Consultant
Chima Williams Environmental Rights Action (ERA/FOEN)
Ejiro Onokpache FOSTER
Okovon-Ndem Federal Ministry of Environment
Dauda Garuba Natural Resource Governance Institute
Amanie Stella Society for Women and Youth Affairs
Idris Musa National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA)
Ekaete O. Utek National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA)
Nnimmo Bassey Health of Mother Earth Foundation
Father Edward Obi Nigerian Coalition for Gas and Oil in the Niger Delta (NACGOND)
Kolawole Banwo Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)
Nwaneri Martins African Centre for Corporate Responsibility