‘Petroleum minister not fit to constitute c’ttee on Ogoni clean-up’

The 14-member committee  is saddled with the responsibility of proposing a focused engagement and implementation plan with clearly defined steps. The group is also mandated to advise the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project, (HYPREP) Advisory Council on the manner in which assets and funds of the project may be held and utilised.

Director of the foundation, Nnimmo Bassey, in an interview with our correspondent, said the  cleanup of Ogoniland should  primarily be driven by the Ministry of Environment, not petroleum.

This, he said, is because the Ministry of Petroleum is complicit in the entire episode which environmentally degraded the Ogoniland.

He said: “Some of the worst pollution have been caused by agencies of the petroleum ministry; for instance, the pollution from the refineries and petrochemical installations. Moreover, this is a good time for us to set things right with regard to environmental responsibility .

“A polluter cannot be expected to do a good job of enforcing standards that are supposed to ensure that they are accountable for their deeds. It is simple law that an accused cannot be a judge in his own case.’’

He stressed that the development should be the fault of agencies like  NOSDRA that are not adequately equipped to do the exercise.
He said: “We definitely need a committee such as has been set up. Still HYPREP even by its name as a pollution restoration agency is anachronistic. Its basic conception requires review.’’

He explained that the funding source, warehousing of the funds and structures for transparent utilisation and oversight will be critical for the success of the exercise.
Speaking at the inauguration of the committee last week in Abuja, Mrs. Alison-Madueke stated that the establishment of the committee is a direct response to the yearnings of the Ogoni people and other stakeholders for inclusion in the effective engagement by government to activate an enduring and robust environmental restoration of Ogoniland.

She  further stated that it is expected that the committee will brainstorm and develop suggestions for a clear and actionable roadmap for the restitution of the Ogoni people and restoration of the environment for healthy living conditions.

“I am expecting that in due course, learnings from the Ogoni restoration work can and will be applied in other parts of Nigeria, facing similar environmental degradation problems,’’ she said.

The committee has as its chairman, Dr. Jamila Shu’ara, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.  

Its members include: His Majesty, King Godwin N.K. Gininwa, Chairman, Rivers State Council of Chiefs and Traditional Rulers, and Gbenemene of Tai Kingdom, Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, President, MOSOP, Prof. Ben Naane, Prof. Rosaline Konyan, Dr. Abraham Olungwe, Mr. Friday Kpelo, all representatives of the Ogoni community.

Others members include, Ambassador Daouda Toure, UN Resident Coordinator, Shuaibu Otori, Representative of the Office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mr. John Lahu, Representative of the Ministry of Environment, Jube Jemide, Representative of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Jonathan Okehs, representing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Austin Igboko, Representative of Shell Petroleum Development Company, Mr. George Oguachuba, Representative of Total and Mr. Angelo Madera, and representative of Nigeria Agip Oil Company.