The Minister of State for Environment, Chief (Mrs.) Sharon Ikeazor, has called on members of the House Committee on Host Communities to help in addressing the activities of artisanal refining in Ogoniland.
She made this appeal during her interactive session with members of the House Committee on Host Communities.
The Minister of State expressed appreciation to the committee for its keen interest and follow-up on the progress of work on the Ogoni clean-up project. Chief Ikeazor in her brief, informed members of the committee that the Ogoni clean-up project is a priority project for the President, pledging that she will do all that is required to ensure that the people of Ogoni get the full benefit from the project.
She informed the committee that she recently held a stakeholders engagement with the Ogoni communities in Bori, to enable her interface with the owners of the project and get a firsthand information on their expectations and concerns about the project.
Giving her brief, Ikeazor disclosed that the long-awaited water for the people of Ogoni has been addressed as six water contractors are currently working to provide potable water in Ogoniland, while additional 12 water contractors will soon be engaged. She informed the committee that HYPREP has completed nineteen (19) of the twenty-one (21) lots in Phase 1 Batch 1 remediation works, eighteen (18) lots have been certified and closed out by NOSDRA while the remaining two (2) lots are at different stages of completion. She further explained that in 2020, contracts were awarded for the
Phase 1 Batch 2 works of thirty-six (36) lots, which comprises twenty-nine (29) soil remediation and seven (7) lots in Tier 2 (T-2) assessment of groundwater. She informed the members that the seven (7) lots for assessment of groundwater have since been completed while remediation works on the twenty-nine (29) lots are at different stages of completion. She was happy to announce to the Committee that fourteen (14) remediation lots on this phase have been completed, two (2) have been certified and closed out by NOSDRA while others are awaiting NOSDRA certification.
The Minister also informed the committee that HYPREP is working with UNEP to carry out reconnaissance of polluted sites that were not covered in the UNEP Report, this she added is to improve the capacity of farmlands and aquatic environment to support farming and fishing activities. 156 out of 176 sites have been visited by the HYPREP/UNEP tam. She expressed excitement to members of the committee at seeing green vegetation growing on a polluted site that had been remediated in Alode, Eleme Local Government Area when she last visited.
She however noted with great concern cases of vandalisation, contractors not allowed access to sites, delay on some remediation sites caused by restive youths, chieftaincy tussles and communal disputes.
Further in her briefing, the Minister informed the members that HYPREP has trained youths of Ogoni in various aspects of remediation and has created over 2300 jobs. Furthermore, Ikeazor said HYPREP has designed programs to provide alternative livelihood for the people of Ogoni, adding that youths will be trained to provide surveillance in Ogoni while the livelihood programs will also target those involved in artisanal refining to provide them with alternative means of livelihood.
The Permanent Secretary, Engr. Hassan Musa informed the committee that the Minister has come with the determination and vigor to ensure quality and timely delivery of the project.
The Project Coordinator, Prof. Philip Shekwolo while responding to questions took members of the committee through the process of the soil recovery through natural attenuation and bio-remediation. The PC submitted to the committee a presentation which covered the life cycle of the four (4) thematic areas of the project, namely, remediation, livelihood, water and health.
The Director General of NOSDRA, Mr. Idris Musa told the committee that the teething problems which caused delays in the clean-up project have been addressed. He assured the members that the project will now run smoothly and faster. The DG stated that HYPREP has achieved about 68 percent out of the originally delineated lots.
By: Donatus Ebi
Youth Group Faults Protest Against HYPREP
Following the protest that rock the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP)last Monday by some youth groups in Ogoniland calling for the dissolution of the governing board of the agency,s more groups in the area said the call is not necessary, as it was aimed at querying the pedigree of the Project Cordinator, Prof Neniibarini Zabbey.
In an interview with journalists, the Bodo City Youth Federation led by Joseph Lenu and his executive members said they condems in strong terms the protest led by the President Generalof Ogoni Youth Federation, Mr. Lagborsi Yaamabaana.
Group further warned that the youths would not take it kindly with any groups or individuals that want to undermine the peace and security of Ogoni land at this critical time noting that the organiser of the said Protest should tender an apology to the project coordinator and the Ogoni youths.
Group Distances Self From HYPREP Protest
A concerned group under the auspices of Ogoni General Youth Assembly, has distanced itself from the protest organised by Mr. Legbosi Yaamabaana against the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) last Monday.
The President of the group, Comrade BarinekaTornwe in a statement said the Protest led by Yaamabaana was against the best interest of the Ogonis and would not yield any positive result.
According to him, Yaamabaana, a HYPREP contractor himself, would only be using the sweat and blood of Ogoni youths to push for more expensive contracts”, adding that the said youth leader “Yaamabaan is always on self-enrichment mode and never for the over-all good interest of the Ogoni youths”
Tornwe therefore enjoined all Ogoni youths to avoid him and rather support HYPREP to execute its core mandate of providing alternative source of livelihood to Ogonis through skills training for women and youths.
It would be recalled that recently, HYPREP concluded another training for 3,000 Ogoni youths and women in various empowernment skills, and pledged not to relent its effort in the interest of the people of Ogoni.
The president of the group, further alleged that “It is Yaamabaana’s plan to hijack the central youth training programme from HYPREP and run it a contractor”.
Tornwe however commended HYPREP for what it has done so far on the execution of its mandate, and appealed that it should stay focused on its assignment and not to allow treacherous persons to sway it into the wrong way.
Minister Tasks RSG On Open Defecation
The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof Joseph Terlummum Utsev has called on the Rivers State Government to fulfill it own agreement of ending open defecation by the year 2030.
Prof. Utsev stated this in Port Harcourt during a familiarisation tour to the Niger Delta Basin Authority (NDBA) facilities and projects in the State,
He said eradicating open defecation will improve hygiene, sanitation and health standard of the people.
The Minister explained that the visit was aimed at assessing infrastructure, programmes of the authority required to meet the agenda of President Bola Tinubu in ensuring a better society.
He said toilets must be constructed at motor parks with a view to enthroning hygiene.
“To end open defecation and enthrone hygiene, we need to construct toilets at the motor parks, hospitals, schools and public places to ensure the objective is achieved. So, the Rivers State Government needs to come on board.
“There is a need for us to build synergy between the three tiers of government to ensure that this is achieved.” he said.
The Minister also explained that access to potable water is part of the mandate of the Ministry, and assured that it will be delivered.
. “We are targeting about 500 hectares of land across the country under irrigation. We cannot succeed without completing all our dams that are under construction, ensuring we complete the projects.
“We will engage state governments in allocation of lands, while we provide water for irrigation, the government is supposed to give the Certificate of Occupancy to ensure that the land belongs to the farmers to avoid any issue with the farmers,” he said.
“The government is serious about improving the lives of Nigerians, ensuring food security, wealth creation and youth empowerment”
“Some projects that will drive this have been completed, while some are ongoing, we are determined to complete more projects and initiate new ones.”
It would be recalled that Nigeria currently sits at the top as far as open defecation was concerned.
The country took over from India.
It would also be noted that out of the 36 States in the country, only Jigawa State is open defecation free.
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