The United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, is to take over the management of the implementation of its recommendations for the cleanup of Ogoniland.
A member of the Board of Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project, HYPREP, Celestine Akpobari, said UNEP will oversee the implementation of the remaining 70 percent of the cleanup following the failure of capacity by HYPREP.
Akpobari said before now UNEP was previously just overseeing a few aspects of the exercise. But it had become apparent for the Programme to intervene because the cleanup exercise can no longer be left in the hands of the Project Coordinator alone.
Akpobari said, “They (UNEP) carried out the audit. So if they are managing, they will be able to say from now to three months’ time we can achieve this. And that will be done. It will not be left to the Project Coordinator to decide.”
He said the previous HYPREP administration was not able to utilize all the funds made available for the cleanup even though there was so much work to be done. “Imagine the last administration that you have $360 million in your account. You are supposed to spend $800 million in four years. You ended up spending only $80 million. When there is money you couldn’t use it.”
Akpobari also called for support and patience from the people of Ogoniland for the new board in the cleanup exercise. “I know they have tried all these years drinking dirty water, making sure that attention was given to a bad environment and embarked on a struggle that took lives. Over 2,000 Ogoni people were murdered including our leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa.
“I think that this is a different time altogether. I had been fighting from outside. But there are things you cannot change from outside until you get in. I want to assure our people this time around that some of the things they have been yearning to get will come to them without any struggle because it is their right. They are not asking for something that is strange. They are asking for something that other people have been enjoying in abundance, the wealth from the area,” he said.