…Pressure group’s leadership still to be reconstituted
Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
Factional group of Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) led by Fegalo Nsuke has applauded President Muhammadu Buhari’s advancement of N6 billion for water projects in Ogoni land, where oil production by Shell Petroleum for more than half-a-century has left the area’s subsoil water badly contaminated by benzene content 900 times, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
According to the MOSOP, the Nigerian president’s approval for water projects in Ogoni vindicates its long-standing position of a fraudulent implementation of the UNEP Report. It said the move also confirms the massive corruption on the Ogoni clean-up project under the previous management of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP).
It accused HYPREP of severally denying its claims of failing to provide water for Ogoni, and rather held that they were implementing the report diligently, despite ignoring the first and very significant recommendation for water treatment and provision for communities.
But MOSOP however, warned that the problem with the faulty clean-up program implementation has not been unavailability of funds, but the alleged looting and corruption within HYPREP, the clean-up’s management agency.
“We are concerned that the proposed water project could suffer the failure of previous interventions, without a proper framework to oversee the implementation process. We therefore, demand to see a comprehensive and integrated water project design to empower our internal monitoring mechanisms for us to support the fulfilment of the water project,” Nsuke’s MOSOP faction said in Port Harcourt.
According to the group, it fears that the water project funds and clean-up contracts could just end up to support political parties in their quest to win elections ahead of the forthcoming 2023 elections, funding violent groups and arming unemployed youths to cause conflicts in the society thereby making accountability difficult.
It called on the President to consider the issues of livelihoods and compensation for families whose sources of livelihoods have been destroyed by years of pollution, and who have suffered untold hardships consequently.
“It is worthy to note that there can be no remediation without compensation for livelihood losses. The fact that the Shell-sponsored UNEP report did not expressly state a value for community compensation does not eliminate the sufferings our people still go through, due to the pollution,” Nsuke’s MOSOP said.
The group urged President Buhari to also consider the damaging effects of gas flaring to air quality and climate change, and to take speedy measures to end gas flaring in the country.
It also asked the President to extend the Ogoni water project gesture to other communities in the Niger Delta who also suffer similar pains and deprivations like the Ogoni people.