What do we drink in Ogoniland? This is the question stakeholders sought to answer as Social Action brought together members of the Ogoni community, representatives of civil society organisations, relevant government agencies and the press, to discuss progress made by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in implementing emergency measures as recommended by the United Nations Environment Programme. The town hall which was held in Bori on the 15th of December 2021 was supported by Development and Peace Caritas.
In his welcome charge read by Peter Mazzi, Communication Coordinator, the Executive Director, Dr Isaac Osuoka was concerned that 10 years after the release of the UNEP report and 5 years after the flag-off of the clean-up, there is still no clean water for the people of Ogoniland to drink. Dr Osuoka emphasised the need to implement the emergency phase tenure of activities to address environmental contamination in Ogoniland which include recommendations for providing access to clean water and organising health audits. These emergency measures are to provide immediate relief in the face of life-threatening contamination of the environment in preparation for the full-scale environmental remediation process, which may last for up to 30 years.
Comrade Celestine Akpobari in the first presentation of the day faulted the method used by UNEP in conducting the research as not far-reaching enough and without the expected wide consultation with community people. He, however, was disappointed that even the report release has not been implemented by HYPREP as recommended. He expressed sadness that since the establishment of the HYPREP Project Coordination office, the first genuine attempt to provide portable water in Ogoni happened in March 2021 when water contract of N6.4 million naira was awarded. He presaged that people have seen HYPREP as another money-making venture and warned that people must be watchful and not allow gold-digger to compromise the cleanup process.
Emem Okon looked at the gaps and loopholes in the implementation of the cleanup by HYPREP in her presentation and faulted the methods and intentions of the project. In a presentation made on her behalf by Comrade Pius Dukor, she observed that needs assessment was not carried out before vocational training and capacity building was carried out for youth and women groups in Ogoniland. She also noted that the remediation measures are not done with all sincerity and intentions to clean up the pollution and make life better for the people of the impacted communities.
In a panel session moderated by Comrade Pius Dukor, the panelists consisting of Chief Magnus Edooh, Chief Cletus Mbari Bekor, Stella Amanie, Noble Worlu and Akobuto Friday, deliberated on how crucial an emergency provision of water and healthcare (health audit) is, as recommended by the UNEP report. Panelist were unanimous on the notion that HYPREP is not treating the matter of water supply as an emergency with the urgency that is required. They decried the situation whereby the helpless people of the impacted communities still drink from the same sources of water the report had designated as contaminated because of a lack of alternatives.
Contributing to the discuss in an interactive session, community members present at the audience corroborated the opinions of the panel and added that there has been a disconnect between HYPREP and the communities they claim to be remediating. They doubted the sincerity and capacity of the contractor executing the projects and lamented that people have been dying every day in these communities as a result of the contaminated soil and water which are supposed to be sources of life. They demanded that proper medical audits be conducted on patients in the hospitals and medical centres and proper diagnosis and therapy undertaken.
At the end of the meeting, observations and resolutions were documented in a communique which was read by Peace Agbo, a Communication Officer of Social Action. They include;
- The setting up of an alternative team of CSOs to ensure the water project meets international standards using best practice
- HYPREP should construct modern facilities instead of refurbishing old, outdated, and rusty facilities
- Immediate supply of potable water should be made as a matter of urgency
- Technical partners should be involved in the implementation of the UNEP Report since this is a novel clean-up in Nigeria
- The people should come together to stop them whenever HYPREP is carrying out their health outreach instead of recommended health audit
- CSOs should form a strong independent team to closely monitor work going on at the remediation and water projects to ensure they meet international standards using best practice
- Civil Rights Council National Convention held on the 11th of November 2022 anchored by the National Executive CouncilNews2022.11.23CIVIL RIGHTS COUNCIL UNITS GIVE ACCOUNT OF STEWARDSHIP, ACKNOWLEDGE CHALLENGES AND OUTLINE PROGRAMS FOR 2023
- Jaye Gaskia making his presentations at the Social Action Camp 2022News2022.11.18NO SUCCESSFUL SOCIAL OR POLITICAL MOVEMENT WITHOUT THE SEVEN CHARACTERISTICS OF A MOVEMENT
- News2022.11.18WOMEN LIBERATION IS AIMED AT ACHIEVING EQUILITY FOR WOMEN IN ALL ASPECTS OF THE SOCIETY
- A presentation of Prof Sofiri Peterside at the Nigeria Social Action Camp 2022News2022.11.15RECLAIMING THE CIVIL SPACE FOR TRANSFORMATIVE GOVERNANCE AND POLITICAL CHANGE IN NIGERIA