ERA unfolds performance indicators for Ogoni clean-up
Fresh policy changes may be in the offing that would pave way for the overhaul of the Ogoni clean up, if the Federal authorities accept key performance indicators (KPI) for the remediation exercise being promoted by Environmental Rights Action and Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FOEN) and communities.
The initiative was unveiled at the Environmental parliament organised by ERA/FOEN in Abuja. The KPIs evaluated the impacts or burden of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) activities on the environment and outcomes of environmental actions such as clean up indicators required, which should include environmental livelihood, health, potable water, gender, human rights and security, amongst others.
It is also to promote active and voluntary environmental monitoring efforts. “Such performance indicators will promote HYPREP’s efforts and other independent organizations for internal evaluation and decision making with respect to the Ogoni clean-up,” according to the ERA/FOEN Nigeria Executive Director, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo.
He said: “For a project expected to last between 25 to 30 years, setting measurable indicators would help the different governance regimes to focus on the goals of the project. It will also help the different administration and civil society organizations to measure impacts of the clean-up on the different aspects of the Ogoni society and it environs.”
“More pertinent is the regulatory environmental threshold given by HYPREP to contractors which is an intervention value of 1000mg/kg and target value of 50mg/kg that could be considered good when compared to the current Environmental Guidelines and Standards for the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria (EGASPIN). However, given the need to protect public health, a more conservative threshold would benefit the Ogoniland and the Niger Delta at large.
Ojo added: “While HYPREP indicated soil baselines in the tender documents given to contractors, it did not provide the livelihood status of individual communities or local government councils, and by how many per cent livelihoods would be improved or increased in such communities.” He raised concerns about the delay in the commencement of work on the Integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre (ICMSC) as recommended by the 2011 UNEP report. The ICMSC to provide broad based capacity building for the Ogonis has been completely sidelined and this portends grave danger for the clean-up.
“ We condemned the decision of the HYPREP team to use bio-cells remediation technique to treat impacted soil at this stage with the lame excuse that it is unable to find a suitable template for an Integrated Contaminated Soil Management Center. But from its body language HYPREP is unwilling to build this facility recommended by UNEP in Ogoniland. But this should have been a priority for the project.
The group also noted the overbearing bureaucratic influence of the Federal Ministry of Environment- HYPREP is tied very firmly to the apron strings of the minister and critical decisions about processes. “This situation has meant that the project coordinator is often in Abuja ostensibly lobbying the minister to get things done. While the program coordinator is thus otherwise engaged in Abuja, activities at the project office are brought to a halt until the project coordinator returns from his visit to Abuja.”
Dr. Ojo stated that HYPREP is unwilling to commence the construction of the Center of Excellence recommended by UNEP. Again, its argument for not going ahead with the construction of the center of excellence is that the UNEP report says that the center will be a place for learning, research and knowledge sharing at the end of the project.
ERA/FOEN called on the National Assembly to urgently intervene in the Ogoni cleanup process by directing appropriate committees to provide oversight functions on the clean up process. Dr. Ojo said the structure and operations of HYPREP should be urgently reviewed by the National Assembly to ensure proper oversight of its activities.
“The National Assembly should adopt the HYPREP gazette and rework it with appropriate modifications and pass it into law to provide legislator backing with independent status. This will ensure a more robust and legally binding supervision of HYPREP and the funds committed to it.
“While we urge the early release of the US$600 million due to it by 2020, HYPREP failed to demonstrate capacity to spend. If urgent and decisive action is not taken to refocus HYPREP, we may have another white elephant intervention in the Niger Delta region like others before it that have failed to turn the fortunes of the region around for the good of long suffering communities in the region.”The Zonal head, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Cyrus Nwankangwung said the agency will crosscheck the facts released by ERA/FOEN as the information will help them in the course of monitoring the clean up exercise.