For over 60 years, the Nigerian Government exploited oil and gas resources in the Niger

Delta region. During this period, extensive pollution of the air, water, sediment and soil in

local communities in the region exposed humans and other life forms to severe health risks.

At some point in the early 1990s, the Ogoni communities and civil society organizations

agitated for the Government to clean up environmental degradation in the area. As a

response, the Nigerian Government commissioned the United Nations Environment

Programme (UNEP) to undertake an environmental assessment of Ogoniland. In 2011, UNEP

released the report that provided scientific evidence to the massive environmental pollution

occasioned by oil spills in Ogoniland and proffered recommendations. In 2016, the Nigerian

Government flagged off the clean-up of Ogoniland, and re-established the Hydrocarbon

Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in April 2017. HYPREP’s primary responsibilities

are to: CONTINUE READING

i). determine the scope and means of soil and groundwater remediation,

ii). enhance local capacity for better environmental management as well as ensure livelihoods

and sustainable development,

iii). ensure security and promote peace building efforts in local communities

iv). strengthen governance, transparency and accountability in the region.

Till date, HYPREP’s activities in Ogoniland has focused on determining the scope and means

of soil and groundwater remediation and local capacity building. It is important to mention

that two other mandates of HYPREP as highlighted above are critical to the development of

Ogoniland and cannot be relegated or jettisoned.

This press release intends to highlight the achievements of HYPREP since its operations 3

years ago and proffer basic solutions to identified challenges. First, HYPREP’s activities are

currently focused on soil remediation and capacity development. On polluted land

remediation, HYPREP contracted 21 remediation companies in January 2019, to undertake

remediation works in Ogoniland within a 6-month period. As we speak, all 21 lots are still

on-site undertaking remediation works 18 months after they signed the contracts. None of the

contractors have attained 50% of required work. Again, in the first quarter of 2020, HYPREP

contracted another 36 remediation contractors to undertake remediation works (29 to

remediate polluted lots and 7 to monitor groundwater). So far, work done has been motion

without movement (can we say “work done is below community stakeholder expectations”?).

In the following sections, we highlight the (observed/noticeable) challenges facing successful

implementation of the UNEP report and proffered solutions.


1. HYPREP should go back to the Emergency measures

The UNEP report identified 8 emergency measures and recommended that they should be

given urgent attention to address high risk issues in some impacted communities in

Ogoniland. Of priority on the emergency measures’ list is the provision of potable drinking

water to communities were available drinking water contains benzene 900 times more than

the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Three years and 2 months into the

operations of HYPREP, these communities are yet to access potable drinking water. These

measures that were hitherto considered emergency have not been prioritized. Currently, the

implementation of the emergency measures is adhoc and selective, and only a few measures

had been partially attempted while many others are yet to be conceived. KWDC (We prefer




“Kebetkache”) is therefore calling on HYPREP to return to the emergency measures and

ensure potable drinking water are provided for impacted communities.

2. Livelihood restoration

The approach to livelihood restoration is adhoc. Community sStakeholders expected a robust

and comprehensive livelihood restoration framework designed based on a Needs Assessment

in Ogoniland. It is expected that a Needs Assessment should have provided a background and

scope as to the skills and livelihood packages locals are interested in. Such consideration

would have considered the current income level of the locals and their desired livelihood

structure. While this is ignored, pockets of youths (a little over 30) seem to have been trained

in cassava processing. Its almost a year after this training was conducted, no follow-up or

impact monitoring. HYPREP in early 2020, initiated a livelihood training for 400 Ogoni

women to be undertaken in 2 batches, by the United Nations Industrial Development

Organization (UNIDO) at the Songhai farm – this is against the 1200 women that was

previously reported to be trained by HYPREP. Training duration, the skills to be acquired,

and arrangement for start-ups after the training is not public information. These missing gaps

seem to classify the approach as adhoc similar to the development of KPIs, work plan and the

blueprint for project sustainability. To help with this aspect of the project, Kebetkache has

undertaken a women livelihood assessment and identified sustainable livelihood structures

women in Ogoni outlined for livelihood support. The report is a veritable tool in road

mapping livelihood ventures for women in Ogoniland.

3. Contract terms and competency of contractors

The first set of 21 contractors were given 6 months to complete remedial work. None of the

contractors in the phase 1 met this contract term. As a result, contractors had to apply for

extension, which COVID-19 notwithstanding, is not achievable. Remediation of legacy sites

as found in Ogoniland and other parts of the Niger Delta can only be achieved within 24 to 60

months minimum, and this should apply to Ogoniland. This therefore underscores the

competency of the contractors whom should understand that remediation of legacy sites is

different from oil spill containment or clean-up that can be completed in 6 months. Duration

of remediation will take longer in Ogoni because of contextual issues such as long rains (8

months – May to December). Thus, even when disregarding the impact, the COVID-19

restrictions will have on the clean-up, it is unlikely HYPREP can meet the preliminary five-

year deadline in Ogoniland.

4. Work plan

At the moment, relevant and key stakeholders do not have access to HYPREP’s work plan.,

(that is if one exists – can we delete this?). The UNEP report made provisions for a

preliminary five-year work plan towards environmental restoration in Ogoniland. In the

pathway to sustainability, the UNEP report highlighted issues such as emergency measures,

clean-up, mangrove restoration, centre of excellence, alternative employment to those in

artisanal refining, surveillance and monitoring, clean-up of sediments and restoration of

artisanal refining sites, to be given attention in the first five years. The initial 1 billion USD

was supposed to carter for these listed activities. It is however worrisome that HYPREP is yet

to outline a workplan that would consider these priorities in the first five years of its

activities.

5. Capacity and competency

Early this year, the House of Representatives met with stakeholders to understand the

operationalization of the Ogoni clean-up project. During the engagement at the House of




Representatives, HYPREP agreed to have received 360 million USD but has spent only about

38 million USD. There are concerns over the capacity of HYPREP to expend available funds

in line with the UNEP recommendations and expectations of the local population. While

there are mounting needs such as provision of potable drinking water, capacity building for

women and youths, sediment remediation, livelihood package for artisanal refiners, centre of

excellence and soil management centre, (HYPREP seems uncertain on where to channel

available funds – can we just note that “there are mounting needs for the funds to be

expended on provision of potable water, capacity building of women and youth, sediment

remediation, livelihood package for artisanal refiners, centre of excellence and soil

management centre and community members expect HYPREP to indicate where available

funds are channeled”).




6. Payment of contractors

Following the COVID-19 restrictions, work had stopped at some sites, while few are

working. However, it is clear from field observations that most lots had stopped work long

before COVID-19 pandemic reached Nigeria. Some lots had stopped work between

September 2019 and January 2020, reportedly over lack of payments, while others are still

active, with reduced staff capacity. There have been increased protests by workers on the

sites. Evidence also exists that workers have not been paid because contractors have not been

paid too. While contractors lobby to be paid, others have locked their sites and embarked on

‘no pay no work’ (can we mention one site that has done this?E.g. Lot 5). It is difficult to

understand the reason for indebtedness given that HYPREP has no funding challenge.

7. Key performance indicators

The monitoring tool (key performance indicators (KPIs)) that should be used by stakeholders

to assess the quality of work done is not yet released to stakeholders (by HYPREP).

Conventionally, best practice requires all relevant stakeholders to co-develop the KPI. The

reason is to meet different stakeholder expectations and encourage inclusive decision-

making. However, HYPREP seem to have independently developed the KPIs without

stakeholder inputs, and also unwilling to share same for public utilization to monitor the

success of the clean-up exercise. The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency

(NOSDRA) has a statutory responsibility to monitor the remediation process, however, it is

unclear whether NOSDRA has taken up this responsibility. Some contractors in the first

phase of the remediation exercise have started backfilling, but stakeholders do not have

access to data of Total Hydrocarbon Petroleum (TPH) concentrations of remediated or

backfilled soil on such sites. This has raised concerns for quality assurance and control of the

remediation exercise.

8. Integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre (ICSMC) and Centre of

Excellence

Most worrisome, the ICSMC and the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Restoration is

yet to be built. These centres were expected to play key roles in the remediation of

recalcitrant hydrocarbons, management of toxic and hazardous waste, development of

capacity for the remediation project and the creation of sustainable jobs in Ogoniland and the

wider Niger Delta. These aspects of the project currently pose significant risks to the

realization of the project goal. What is currently missing and worth highlighting is the toxic

waste management plan in the different communities where remediation is being conducted.

It is general knowledge that hazardous waste will be generated as the remediation begins,




however, it is not clear how contractors intend to address issues related to effective hazardous

waste management. This is critical to the success of the remediation works, even as the

likelihood of dumping such waste in community dumpsites is very high. This has

implications for re-contamination. Also, it is unclear where and how waste generated from

the lots during remediation are handled or managed.




9. The Project Management Consultant (PMC)

The PMC was engaged by the Federal Ministry of Environment (FME) to ensure quality

assurance and quality control of the remediation project. Although the PMC engaged is not

competent in soil and groundwater remediation, the PMC ensured contractors prioritized

health and safety measures on site. For example, they ensured contractors provided safety

briefing to their workers, personal protective equipment, acquaint themselves with unsafe

acts and unsafe behavior and conditions, and overall ensured safe working environment for

all workers. Things changed when contractors started working on Saturdays and Sundays

without the supervision of the PMC, in order to meet project milestones. On such days, (one

wonders if) health and safety measures are (observed) disregarded.

What is important to mention here is that the contract of the PMC ended in December 2019.

Since the expiration of the contract, contractors have been working without any supervision.

Thus, neither equipment supervision, health and safety measures or provision of appropriate

personal protection equipment (PPE) has been considered important during remediation. As a

result, quality control and quality assurance of the remediation exercise is compromised

within this period.

10. Re-pollution and artisanal refining

Re-pollution is a major threat to successful cleanup in Ogoniland due majorly to oil theft,

artisanal oil refining, and pipeline vandalism. (There is need for ) HYPREP (to give due

attention to artisanal refining activities.) has given little or no attention to artisanal refining

activities and this will affect the remediation project in no small measure.

11. Use of internationally accredited laboratories

Stakeholders are very concerned over the capacity of available laboratories in Port Harcourt

to provide credible analysis of samples collected from remediation sites in Ogoniland. While

UNEP has earlier raised such concerns, neither NOSDRA nor HYPREP have taken the

initiative to ensure samples are analyzed in credible laboratories. Evidence of accredited

laboratories by NOSDRA indicate that top management of HYPREP own laboratories that

could potentially pose conflict of interest as contractors and jeopardize the integrity of

analyzed samples.

Lastly, there is no indication of HYPREP having a pragmatic approach to collaborate and

partner civil society organizations . (currently lacks the aura and pragmatic approach to

collaborate and partner civil society organizations). HYPREP is yet to perceives CSOs as

partners in progress (‘enemies’ instead of partners in progress). This body language of

HYPREP has grossly affected the ability of CSOs to provide the needed support to the

success of the project (This does not create room for CSOs to provide the needed support for

the success of the project).




It is on the note of these eleven identified challenges that the following recommendations are

made:

1. Rekindle the trust and confidence of the Ogoni people and indeed the Niger Delta in

the ability of HYPREP to undertake a credible and sustainable remediation exercise in

Ogoniland

2. HYPREP should immediately re-strategize the implementation of the emergency

measures as this is a sure pathway towards confidence building

3. Review the contract terms and where necessary revoke the contracts of incompetent

contractors

4. A livelihood blueprint and a pathway for Ogoni sustainable development should be

developed and implemented by HYPREP

5. As a matter of urgency, publicize HYPREP’s work plan for the next 2 years. Ensure

simultaneous execution to meet up UNEP’s 5-year recommendations

6. The Federal government ensure competent manpower in HYPREP, engage competent

PMC, and build the Centre of excellence and ICSMC (Priortizse the building of the

Centre of Excellence and ICSMC)

7. HYPREP should ensure contractors are paid immediately milestones are achieved.

The grievances

8. HYPREP to kickstart quarterly transparency and accountability forum to present

scorecard to stakeholders

9. HYPREP’s Governing Council and Board of Trustees to rise up to their

responsibilities to ensure informed decision making in HYPREP

10. HYPREP should release KPIs to stakeholders and allow for the monitoring of the

project

11. HYPREP should develop a roadmap for addressing re-pollution

Despite minimal progress in the implementation of the UNEP recommendations for

Ogoniland, significant work remains in tackling the land contamination legacy and its public

health, socioeconomic, cultural and environmental implications in Ogoniland. The

overwhelming joy and excitement that envelope the Ogoni nation during the flag-off of the

Ogoni clean-up could be restored. Ogoni clean-up is a multi-stakeholder project and everyone

should be allowed to play its role for the achievement of the project goal.

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