Senator Abe, MOSOP Fault HYPREP'S Ogoni Cleanup Spending

The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) and the immediate past representative of Rivers South-East senatorial district in the senate, Magnus Abe, have faulted the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) handling of the $1 billion Ogoni clean-up project.

HYPREP, which falls directly under the Federal Ministry of Environment and coordinated by Dr. Marvin Dekil, was handling the clean-up exercise, including the award of contracts.

President of MOSOP Fegalo Nsuke, had described the managers of HYPREP as corrupt officials, “who have engaged unqualified forms to loot the clean-up funds to justify their wasteful expenditure.

In a statement yesterday, Alex Akori, MOSOP’ assistant secretary-general said: “Most of the firms engaged by HYPREP on the Ogoni clean-up project unfortunately lack the required expertise to handle the complex situation in Ogoni. Some of them failed the pre-qualification assessment for the project, but still made the list of contractors.

“MOSOP regrets that the managers of HYPREP have not considered the impact of their failures on the life of the Ogoni people.

“The massive corruption in the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP), which started with jettisoning of the recommendations of UNEP, especially issues of water provision for Ogoni and the failure of HYPREP to establish the Integrated Soil Management Centre, which should handle the contaminated wastes.

“The problem with Ogoni cleanup today is therefore no longer just the issue of poor funding at this time, but the mismanagement of available funds and corruption in HYPREP.”

In his assessment of the clean-up, Abe faulted the claim by HYPREP Coordinator, Dr. Marvin Dekil, that each contract would provide a minimum of thirty-five local job opportunities for Ogoni people.

Abe said in a statement said: “What is the nature of these thirty-five jobs Dekil was talking about? Are they permanent placements? What level of employees are we talking about, and how long will they last,” Abe queried.

“While we must thank HYPREP for these opportunities, I think the most important question for the Ogoni people should be who are these contractors and what number of these contractors are local?

“If the contracts require skills that are not locally available, what deliberate policy is HYPREP adopting to grow local participation and expand lasting opportunities for Ogoni people and businesses in the land?

“To argue the way Dekil did that HYPREP has no obligation to develop Ogoni because the development of Ogoni is not part of its core mandate, is to accept the unacceptable.

“It is unacceptable that HYPREP can superintend over the disbursement of one billion dollars named Ogoni Trust Fund and it will not matter if the Ogoni people benefit from it, as long as there is remediation of impacted sites, because that is not the purpose of HYPREP. I reject that argument however sound the logic behind it,” Abe said.

But reacting to Abe’s statement yesterday, HYPREP Scientific Project Officer and Special Assistant to Dekil on New Media and Strategic Communications, Baridam Ben, asked the senator why he had not attended any of the stakeholders’ meeting organised by HYPREP to engage with Ogoni leaders.

He added: “When you asked who the contractors are, I’m sure it was a rhetorical question as the names of the contractors are in the public domain, and their work is there for all to see.

“On how many of them are from Ogoni, I am aware, that of the initial 21 contracts, at least four of them are from Ogoni, with an Ogoni man holding the largest contract in the remediation work,” Ben said.