Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action), a civil society organization committed to cleaner environment, has described the efforts so far by the Federal Government and International Oil Companies (IOCs) to make Ogoniland clean and supportive of lives and fauna as yet to be satisfactory by all assessment parameters.

The group made its position known today through a statement issued by its Research/Progamme Officer, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, as it joined the rest of the world to mark June 5, 2018 World Environment Day with the theme “Beat Plastic Pollution”.

Social Action pointed out that it had been monitoring the Niger Delta environment and the implementation of UNEP Report on Ogoniland since 2007 and in 2014 and 2016 published two monitoring reports on the Ogoni Cleanup. They are titled; “Still Poluted” and “Cleaning In A Vaccum”.

Fyneface stated that it was against this background that organisation welcomed the statement credited to the Coordinator of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), Dr. Marvin Dekil, during a medical outreach in Taabaa Community on April 21, 2018 that the Ogoni cleanup would start in August 2018.

The group also cited a report credited to the Minister of State for Environment, Mr. Jubril Usman as saying during a media chat in Abuja to mark 2018 World Environment Day that the cleanup would start by ending of August 2018.

Social Action expressed concern over the contradictions in the statement credited to the HYPREP Coordinator, who told Al Jazeera in an interview in his office on May 18 this year that the Ogoni cleanup would start in September and not the August that he told the public earlier.

“The group stated: While Social Action is not against the immediate commencement of the Ogoni cleanup after 7years of the release of the UNEP report on August 4, 2011 and 2years after the flag-off on June 2, 2016, the organization is however worried that the Federal Ministry of Environment and HYPREP are not prepared for the cleanup and therefore on a mission to “Cleaning in a Vacuum”.

“We have doubt that HYPREP can undertake any credible and successful cleanup that meets international standard in August 2018 or even its new timeline of September 2018 when certain UNEP recommended preliminary steps have not been taken and the necessary facilities are not yet in place in Ogoniland.

Our field monitoring report shows that HYPREP is not yet prepared for Ogoni cleanup even by December 2018 because the following UNEP Report recommendations are not yet in place.

It listed these to include, absence of contaminated soil treatment centre; absence of centre of excellence; failure to implement emergency measures; reneging on promise to re-assess of oil-contaminated sites, etc and refusal to publish cleanup implementation work plan.

The group therefore dismissed claims by HYPREP that it would be able to start Ogoni cleanup in August 2018 with a wave of the hand because these pivotal facilities are not yet in place, excepts HYPREP is on a mission to impress the political class ahead of the 2019 general elections by cleaning in a vacuum.

Social Action noted further that HYPREP’s constant reneging on promises and shifting of goal posts for the commencement of the Ogoni cleanup was causing more harm to the Ogoni people who live in the polluted environment, breathe polluted air, drink oil polluted water and dying in their numbers over the environmental poisons.

The CSO also called on HYPREP to lay a solid foundation for a sustainable commencement of the Ogoni cleanup by implementing the emergency measures, constructing the Contaminated Soil Treatment Centre, Centre of Excellence, etc.

“Besides, Social Action takes the recent directive by President MuhamaduBuhari for funds to be released for the Ogoni cleanup with a pinch of salt because similar statement was made in August 2015 to “Fast Track” the cleanup and this is where we are today still advocating for the cleanup to happen.

“We would have however taken Mr. President Statement more seriously if the President had made direct budgetary provisions for Ogoni cleanup in the 2018 Appropriation Bill. With the reverse as the case, we wonder where the funds that the President had directed to be released would come from.

“These are indications and realities on ground in Ogoniland to show that the Ogoni cleanup is not “progressing satisfactorily” as stated by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR in his May 29, 2018 Democracy Day speech and that there is nothing on ground in Ogoniland to show that HYPREP is prepared to carry out cleanup in Ogoniland in August 2018”, the group added.