Ogoni Clean-Up will cost $1b –Osinbajo

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has revealed that the Ogoni Clean-Up project flagged off in 2016 will cost $1billion and the funds will be provided by Shell Petroleum Development Company.

Osinbajo made this known today during an interactive Town Hall meeting with the people of Niger Delta in Port Harcourt Rivers State.

He said the governing structure for the clean-up has been established, and a chief executive appointed by the Governing Council.

According to him on 16 February, the council will perform a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of an integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre, provided for in the UNEP Report.

“On the same day the project for demonstrating technologies for the clean-up, will be launched at selected sites in the four local government areas of Ogoniland”, he said.

The visit to Port Harcourt will be Osinbajo’s third visit to the region, as part of the Buhari administration’s policy to engage with the leadership and people of Nigeria’s oil producing communities, “to hear them, to seek to better understand their problems and concerns first hand and to offer to these communities in the Niger Delta, a new vision and a new compact”.

Osinbajo, as an emissary of President Buhari had visited Delta and Bayelsa states.

The Acting President explained why the Buhari administration, unlike the ones before it has prioritised the cleanup of Ogoniland.

“The Ogoni people… symbolise in many eyes, domestically and internationally, the previous neglect of the Niger Delta and the environmental damage that has been done to the area as we have exploited oil and gas to grow the rest of the economy.

“This is indeed why the Buhari Administration prioritised the ‘Ogoni Clean-up’ and it's working with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and other partners to undertake this important task.”

Details of what the Acting President said about the Ogoni Clean-Up:
Let me briefly update you on the progress made on that project in the time since the Presidential flag off in 2016.

The Federal Ministry of Environment has set about establishing the governance framework with strong systems and controls that are required to carry the Project through its 25 year life cycle. A key component of that infrastructure is a robust governance structure, comprising mainly a Governing Council, a Board of Trustees and a Project Coordination Office (PCO). The Governing Council and Board of Trustees were inaugurated by the President on 4 August 2016 and have since had 2 meetings.

The parameters outlined in the UNEP Report within which the Program must operate was approved by the Federal Executive Council before being officially gazetted on the 12th December 2016.

On 12th January 2017, the Governing Council approved the appointment of Dr. Marvin Dekil, an indigene of Ogoniland, as the Project Coordinator after an international competitive process that saw applications received from other well qualified candidates from around the world.

The Project office will be staffed by an initial 30 staff from both federal and state levels. Additional contracted experts from outside the system will be supported by Project Management Consultants, Monitoring & Evaluation Consultants and Communication Company.

FUNDING FOR THE PROGRAM
The clean-up project is to be funded by SPDC with an initial $1bn disbursed at $200m per annum over 5 years. A $10m takeoff grant has been provided.

Following the flag off, a Technical Committee was set up in the Ministry, and has been working on the project-related activities that must be addressed immediately. Some of these projects in preparation include;

1. Provision of clean drinking water to the impacted communities.
2. Conducting a health impact assessment study being planned, in order to begin to better understand the level of the human health issues referred to in your letter.
3. Demonstration of remediation technology, which will allow for the testing of the different approaches that are being proffered from around the world, and to ensure that only the best is ultimately applied.
4. Groundbreaking for the construction of an integrated contaminated soil management centre which will be critical to the clean-up process.
5. Groundbreaking for the construction of a Centre of Excellence
6. Training

These are the activities that the UNEP Report recommended for start up.

On 16th February, the Governing Council will be performing a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of an integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre, provided for in the UNEP Report. On the same day the project for demonstrating technologies for the clean-up, will be launched at selected sites in the four local government areas of Ogoniland.

An important part of the planned work is skills and livelihood training, which will be essential in ensuring the long term sustainability of the result of the clean-up. As part of our behavioral change strategy, we plan to train about 2000 women from the four local governments in different skills that will enable them to be financially independent. These skills include Snail Farming, Palm Oil Processing, Green Housing, Fishing – Shrimps, Agriculture Extension, and Pottery.

These skills were chosen from among the many that were suggested by a committee of representatives of Ogoniland who met back in August / September to agree on the first steps for the Project. In parallel with the planning and procurement of the services for training there will be a community based sensitization program in each LGA to ensure all stakeholders are aware of the clean-up and its mandate.

It will serve as an entry point to reinforce the change in service delivery that no longer ‘shares money’ but delivers results in the lives of the Ogoni people and lays the foundation for a clean-up that is sustainable and provides the standards for the whole of the Niger Delta.

CONSULTATIONS
All the steps we have taken so far have been in a consultative process, involving representatives of government, civil society, international organizations, international oil companies and local communities. Indeed, representatives of the Ogoni communities are present on the Governing Council and the Board of Trustees and have been involved in the decision-making process.

The next six months will be critical to starting a long journey to realizing the fruits of a struggle that has cost many lives and loss of the ecosystem. “

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