By; SUNDAY ODE, Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday inaugurated
the Governing Council and the Board of Trustees of the Trust Fund for the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) for the Implementation of the United Nations Environmental Report (UNEP) on Ogoniland.
Performing the ceremony at the presidential villa, Abuja, he noted that the project was huge and needed thorough planing and the involvement of the community and therefore called for patience and understanding.
He said: “Indeed, a project of this magnitude requires extensive planning, scientific analysis, community involvement, and genuine partnerships. As a result, it will require patience and understanding of the key stakeholders as we move forward.
“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the Project remains on course, as we face the challenges of high expectations and the current conflict in the Niger Delta.
“The clean-up exercise is expected to go on for two decades. The first five years will address emergency response measures and remediation while the subsequent years will look to restore the ecosystems in the Delta.
“The governance framework we lay today, following extensive consultations, will form the bedrock for sustainability for years to come.
“Together we will be able to transform what is today a tragic tale of desolation and destruction to one of restoration and opportunity for the coming generations.
“The expertise and technology exist to make this a reality. In the end, this project will serve as the “gold standard” for the clean-up of similar pollution in other parts of the Niger Delta, and the world at large.”
Buhari also called on local communities who he observed were the direct beneficiaries of the project to ensure its security and that of the persons implementing it.
He said: “I use this opportunity, through you, to call upon the Local Communities especially our youth, who will be the direct beneficiaries of this effort, to work with us in ensuring the security of the projects and persons implementing them.
“Even more so, that we prevent the re-contamination of the polluted sites in Ogoniland.”
While thanking the appointees for accepting the responsibility, the President advised them to give their utmost commitment to ensuring the highest standard of transparency and accountability in “this important task.”
The inauguration came exactly five years to the day the UNEP
submitted an extensive Report on its environmental assessment of Ogoniland.
Buhari recalled that the report was commissioned by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, which he said did not only document the problems that existed, but also contained recommendations on how they can be addressed, both in the short term and in the long term.
He added: “Five years on, the project is yet to properly take off. It would appear to have experienced a series of false starts, while the local communities continue to suffer from the problem, which has existed long before the Report.
“This all adds to the picture described in the UNEP Report as ‘a landscape characterized by a lack of trust, paralysis and blame.’
“I am pleased to note that while it has been five years since the UNEP Report, it has taken only two months since this Administration flagged off the Project.
“Since the time of flag-off, considerable effort has been expended to create a robust mechanism for implementing the Project in the long term.
“The Governing Council and Board of Trustees, which are being inaugurated today jointly form an essential part of the governance framework.
“In addition to the management and administration structure, other systems and controls are being put in place to ensure that the funds devoted for this Project are used only for the intended purpose.”
The Minister of Environment, Amina Ibrahim, is chairman of the Governing Council while Wale Edun is the chairman of the BoT of the Trust Fund.
By; SUNDAY ODE, Abuja.