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Category Archives: ERA in the News

Support measures to hold Big Tobacco liable for tobacco harms – ERA/FoEN urges COP7 delegates

LAGOS, NIGERIA—In early November, up to 179 countries will convene for the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties of the global tobacco treaty to take some of the most powerful steps in tobacco control since the World Health Organization treaty’s adoption. At the conference, countries will advance a provision to hold the tobacco industry civilly and criminally liable for its abuses. In the wake of revelations this year about British American Tobacco (BAT)’s widespread bribery, governments will also advance policies to exclude the industry from public health policymaking at the international and national levels.
Litigation against Big Tobacco has compelled the industry to pay for the healthcare costs it has caused to countries around the world. The successful litigation against the tobacco industry in the U.S., via the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), secured the recovery of $206 billion USD in health care costs and transformed public health by banning advertising to kids and exposing industry lies. A recent 17-year court case in Canada has similarly awarded smokers $15.6 billion CAD, in what is believed to be the largest class-action lawsuit in Canada to date.
“Litigation is one of the most powerful strategies in forcing the tobacco industry to pay for the staggering costs it incurs on society,” said Cloe Franko, senior international organizer with the Challenge Big Tobacco campaign at Corporate Accountability International. “The outcomes of this year’s Conference of the Parties are poised to mark a turning point for public health.”
The tools Parties will promote at this year’s conference will especially help low- and middle-income countries, where the majority of the world’s smokers now live, but whose GDPs are often dwarfed by Big Tobacco’s revenues—making going head-to-head with the industry in the courts a dubious prospect.
“Nigeria and other developing nations targeted by Big Tobacco for marketing of their lethal products now have the opportunity to support the adoption of mechanisms to hold the industry accountable for the harms caused by tobacco,” said Philip Jakpor, NATT Nigeria Spokesperson.
“Standing for the adoption of provisions that advance criminal liability on Big Tobacco is the right step for delegates from the African region owing to widespread bribery allegations levelled against British America Tobacco (BAT), which has in no small measure slowed the implementation of life-saving legislations”
In addition to advancing tools to hold the tobacco industry civilly and criminally liable, Parties will also close loopholes the tobacco industry has exploited to participate in treaty meetings. The policy stems from a broader treaty directive called Article 5.3 that prevents industry interference in the halls of government.
The global tobacco treaty, known formally as the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) entered into force in 2005. To date, 179 countries and the European Union have become Parties to the treaty. It contains the world’s most effective tobacco control and corporate accountability measures—estimated tosave more than 200 million lives by 2050 if fully implemented.
British American Tobacco is exposed for widespread bribery and attempts to influence public health policy in Africa.
 
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President Buhari Reaffirms His Commitment To Ogoni Clean Up

era-url-iconNigerian Current

President Muhammed Buhari has reaffirmed his administration commitment to the clean-up of Ogoniland in Rivers State.

President Buhari speaking at the inauguration of the governing council and board on Thursday for the clean-up at the Presidential Villa, Abuja asked for the communities cooperation as they kick off the recommendation of UNEP.
However, a coalition of civil society organization led by , Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria(ERA/FoEN) has called on President Muhammed Buhari to put in place a gazette or law to ensure the process is institutionalized and sustained beyond his administration.

The group in a meeting with the theme Monitoring Agenda for the Implementation of the UNEP report cleanup of Ogoniland in Portharcourt, Rivers State yesterday also said that the present administration should wean itself of fossil fuels dependency and halt all forms of pollution by the oil industry in the Niger Delta by enforcing the deadline for the cessation of gas flaring and exploring safe renewables.ogoni

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Shell should not oversee Ogoni clean up —Civil rights group

era-url-iconVanguard

PORT HARCOURT—  Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth of Nigeria has called on the Federal Government not to include Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, in any body constituted to oversee the clean up exercise in Ogoni, Rivers State. Executive Director of the organisation, Dr Godwin Ojo,  in his opening remark at a colloquium,  yesterday, in Port Harcourt, to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the release of the recommendations of United Nations Environment Programme,  UNEP, on Ogoni-land, said that the alleged insistence by the oil company to sit on the Governing Council and Steering Board was worrisome. He said that since  the oil company was largely responsible for pollution of the area, it would be unfair for the same firm to be part of the team overseeing the clean up exercise. Ojo also expressed fear on the seeming undue political influence Shell has  on issues in the Niger Delta, stressing that this could derail the clean up process.
shell-main

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Buhari says Ogoni cleanup will take two decades as ERA/FoEN demands a state of emergency for the entire Niger Delta

era-url-iconDelta Newsroom

President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that on -going cleanup of Ogoniland and other oil-impacted communities in Niger Delta region would last two decades.

Buhari, made the disclosure, while inaugurating Governing Council and Board of Trustees of Trust Fund for Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project for Implementation of UNEP Report on Thursday at Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said “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.

Niger-Delta-Oil-Spill-2-1024x512

“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 cleanup of similar pollution in other parts of the Niger Delta, and the world at large.”

Meanwhile, the Environmental Action /Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) in a organised a one-day advocacy meeting to mark the fifth-year anniversary of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Assessment Report on Ogoniland today, August 4, 2016 recommended among others

Oil pollution

  1. A state of emergency should be declared in Ogoniland and the entire Niger Delta in view of the mammoth environmental challenges inflicted on the region
  2. The clean up of Ogoniland should commence immediately without further delay. There is need for legal framework and supportive Act for the implementation of the UNEP report. The exercise should include health audit of the people in view of declining life expectancy among the people of the region
  3. We strongly recommend the release of the gazette of the UNEP report implementation to ensure sustainability beyond the present administration since the cleanup will take 30 years to complete from the take-off date of commencement
  4. Shell must be removed from the Governing Council of the UNEP clean up exercise to ensure no conflict of interest in the work of the Governing Council and Board of Trustees
  5. Need for unity among the Ogoni people to ensure the process of cleanup of Ogoniland is not stalled
  6. The cleanup of Ogoniland should be the entry point of the cleanup of the entire  Niger Delta.
  7. Adequate awareness creation on the cleanup process to address the concerns of the Ogoni and the generality of Nigerians interested in ensuring the current processes work.
  8. Adequate civil society representation in the Governing Council and BOT of the implementing committee
  9. An independent monitoring system be set up with representatives of the Ogoni and civil society playing prominent and active roles
  10. Nigerian government should wean itself of fossil fuels dependency and halt all forms of pollution by the oil industry in the Niger Delta by enforcing the deadline for the cessation of gas flaring and exploring safe renewables.

 

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Ogoniland clean-up: Activists ask government to declare state of emergency

era-url-iconEnviroNews Nigeria

Despite the announcement of the supposed take-off of the Ogoniland clean-up exercise and a $10 million take-off grant in 2015, the institutional framework is still not in place to give hope to the Ogoni people that anything tangibe will come out of the process.

Bayelsa State Commissioner for Environment, Iniruo Willis (standing), Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Dr Godwin Ojo (sitting by Willis' right), and some other participants at the event

Bayelsa State Commissioner for Environment, Iniruo Willis (standing), Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Dr Godwin Ojo (sitting by Willis’ right), and some other participants at the event

This was the submission of Dr Godwin Ojo, executive director of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) on Thursday (04 August, 2016) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State in an address at an Advocacy Meeting on Monitoring Agenda for the Implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report on Clean-up of Ogoniland.

Themed: “Monitoring Agenda for the Implementation of the UNEP report cleanup of Ogoniland”, the daylong forum discussed new developments on the implementation of the report, including the announcement and inauguration of a 13-member Governing Council and Board of Trustees to oversee the take-off of the actual clean-up exercise by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

The participants declared that a state of emergency should be declared in Ogoniland and the entire Niger Delta in view of the mammoth environmental challenges inflicted on the region.

Additionally, they want the clean-up of Ogoniland to commence immediately without further delay, even as they underlined the need for a legal framework and supportive Act for the implementation of the UNEP report. The exercise, they noted, should include health audit of the people in view of declining life expectancy among the people of the region.

Ojo lamented that, five years after the release of the UNEP Assessment report, Ogoniland still remains an emblem of pollution and ecocide in the Niger Delta region.

Indeed, the gathering, which comprised representatives of Niger Delta communities, civil soceity, lawyers, community campaigners, academia and the media, observed that though government has shown a positive attitude towards implementing the UNEP report by inaugurating a Governing Council and Board of Trustees, the absence of a gazette or law to ensure the process is institutionalised and sustained beyond the Buhari administration is not in place.

According to them, there is still legitimate outrage among Ogoni on the inclusion of the same polluting oil companies in the Governing Council and Board of Trustees of the UNEP report implementation. They describe Shell sitting on the Governing Council and steering Board set up by the government to oversee the clean-up as an anomaly.

Shell, the participants allege, is orchestrating a strategy of hijacking the clean-up process in its attempts to evade justice and undermining the clean-up process.

“Since the publicised approval of the $10 million take-off grant which is a paltry sum for start-up compared to the UNEP recommended $1 billion for clean-up of Ogoniland made by President Buhari in August 2015, there has been no information in the public on how the fund will be expended, or how oil companies are to fund the clean-up exercise,” the forum declared, stressing that there is still no work plan or timelines for deliverables in the UNEP report implementation process.

They observed that civil society representation in the composition of the Governing Council and Board of Trustees in the UNEP report implementation is virtually nil and would make monitoring of implementation near absent.

Despite the current administration mantra of diversification from a monoculture economy solely reliant on fossil fuels, it still relies heavily on fossil fuel to the detriment of proven alternatives that are clean and sustainable.

The gathering further recommended thus:

  • Release of the gazette of the UNEP report implementation to ensure sustainability beyond the present administration since the clean-up will take 30 years to complete from the take-off date of commencement
  • Shell’s removal from the Governing Council of the UNEP clean-up exercise to ensure no conflict of interest in the work of the Governing Council and Board of Trustees
  • Need for unity among the Ogoni people to ensure the process of clean-up of Ogoniland is not stalled
  • The clean-up of Ogoniland should be the entry point of the clean-up of the entire Niger Delta region.
  • Adequate awareness creation on the clean-up process to address the concerns of the Ogoni and the generality of Nigerians interested in ensuring the current processes work
  • Adequate civil society representation in the Governing Council and BOT of the implementing committee
  • An independent monitoring system be set up with representatives of the Ogoni and civil society playing prominent and active roles
  • Nigerian government should wean itself of fossil fuels dependency and halt all forms of pollution by the oil industry in the Niger Delta by enforcing the deadline for the cessation of gas flaring and exploring safe renewables.
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FG’s Ogoni clean up flag off, mere jamboree – Group

era-url-iconvanguard

FG’s Ogoni clean up flag off, mere jamboree – Group
On June 7, 2016 6:04 by adekunle
Comments By Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Emmanuel Elebeke
ABUJA — AN environmental group, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FOEN, has given the Federal Government a knock over the recent flag-off the clean-up of Ogoni, Rivers State, saying that apart from the usual fan fair, there was no serious commitment by the government to the exercise.
Executive Director of ERA/FOEN, Dr. Godwin Ojo, who expressed dismay over what he described as lack of commitment by the Federal Government to the clean-up of Ogoni during the World Environment Day in Abuja, urged the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to come out and state in a clear and unambiguous terms the commitment of government and Shell Petroleum Development Company in the exercise.
Ojo also frowned at the non passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, which his organisation has been at the fore front of the campaign for passage of the bill, noting that what was presently before the National Assembly as PIB was highly deceptive. Meanwhile, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig. General Paul Boroh (retd) has described the clean-up of Ogoni as both an environmental and economic lifeline for the Niger Delta.
He said apart from restoring the environment, the clean- up will in the in short term lead to mass youth employment and revival of sustainable economic activities while on the long run, the people will return to their profession of farming and fishing. According to him, the clean-up was the best thing to happen to the region in many years, adding that long years of oil exploitation, spills and abandonment had made many parts of the Niger Delta unsafe for human habitation and economically, unviable.
In a statement by Media and Communication Consultant to Presidential Amnesty Programme, Owei Lakemfa, Boroh said that the clean-up will also greatly assist the Presidential Amnesty Programme engage ex-agitators in sustainable employment, adding that the exercise fits in perfectly with the programmes’s current phase of sustainably integrating all the 30,000 beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme.
Dr Ojo continuing, said “Environmental challenges have been politicised along ethnic lines. The failure of natural resource management in Nigeria is the failure of governance in the lack of compliance and enforcement of the extant laws.” He said the country needed a new economic pathway that was not dependent on fossil fuels, stressing that the significant drop in oil pricing required an alternative economic blueprint that was envisaged within a post petroleum economy for Nigeria.
“Let us put a halt to the plundering of natural resources in the name of foreign exchange earnings. This has so far been counter to local production and consumption. Two profile cases are worthy of mention: The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill 2015, and the implementation of the United Nations Environmental programme, UNEP, Assessment on Ogoniland Report. “First, the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill 2015 (PIGB) for oil sector reform currently before the National Assembly falls short of peoples’ expectation because it does not recognised local participation in the management of natural resources. “The 10 percent equity devolved to the community in the previous Bill had been deliberately left out and environmental protection is not provided for. The Bill is not comprehensive and highly deceptive because although it anticipates other bills, yet the timing, shape and content of such future bills are virtually unknown.
“The Bill should not be passed by the lawmakers unless the promoters put all the cards on the table in respect to other expected bills and incorporate critical views from the impacted communities and civil society groups. “Almost five years on from the submission of the report (August 4, 2011), nothing has changed. Spill sites identified by UNEP remain heavily contaminated even after claims by Shell that it has carried out clean-up operations. “The Ogoni environment is worse off, and the people are dying in droves on a daily basis in a place where life expectancy is shortest in Nigeria. “To reiterate, the high point of the president’s speech delivered on his behalf by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo was the approval he gave for the setting up of the structures such as the Governing Council and the Board of Trustees recommended for driving the clean up process,” he added.
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Crusaders charge FG to commence concrete actions to save environment

era-url-iconEnviron News

To save Nigeria’s diverse ecosystems from further ruin, the Federal Government must go beyond mere words on the issue of transiting from fossil fuels-based economy and put in place the relevant laws to checkmate the activities of the extractive corporations, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria(ERA/FoEN) has said.
ERA/FoEN’s recommendation is coming as Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark the World Environment Day (WED) on Sunday. The WED is celebrated June 5 annually. To mark the event, ERA/FoEN organised a workshop in Abuja with the theme: “Natural Resource Governance: Bridging the Gaps versus Break Free from Fossils.”
The workshop brought together community-based groups, civil society, the academia, legal experts, the media, and government representatives to brainstorm on oil-induced conflicts and disempowerment of local communities as well as recommendations on the way forward.
ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Godwin Uyi Ojo, said: “We are delivering this message straight to our government. The era of sloganeering on preserving the environment is over. This year’s commemoration helps us mirror the local picture of ruined environments, livelihood losses and systematic depletion of wild life.  Our government must now go beyond mere talk, to taking concrete actions that will reverse the chaos that has been unleashed on us under a regime of fossil-fuels dependence.
“Nigeria is yet to come up with a new economic pathway that is not dependent on fossil fuels. The significant drop in oil pricing requires an alternative economic blueprint that is envisaged within a post petroleum economy for Nigeria. There is also the misdirection in policy such as opening discussions with the Russian government on building nuclear power plants here in Nigeria. This, no doubt, is very disturbing.”
Ojo noted that the current administration may have demonstrated willingness to tackle some of the identified issues such as the Ogoni clean-up which was flagged off on June 2.
He added, however, that for it not to have given concrete time lines on commencement of the Ogoni clean-up and to deliver on any of the set objectives of the UNEP report is worrisome.
Re-echoing ERA/FoEN’s argument that Nigeria must look away from dirty energy, he insisted that the ecological disasters caused by fossil fuels dependence makes it imperative for the current administration to declare an Environmental State of Emergency in order to address the situation.
“The Federal government must demonstrate the political will to save our environment through conscious and deliberate adoption of clean and safe renewables. The option of leave the oil in the soil means taking an alternative pathway to sustainable development that is powered by renewable energy, the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity. This is non-negotiable for a new world economic order,” Ojo declared.

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Why militancy resurfaces in Niger Delta, by ERA

era-url-iconThe Guardian

By Adamu Abuh (Abuja), Michael Egbejule (Benin City) and Nnamdi Akpa (Abakaliki)
07 June 2016
The Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, blamed the poor implementation of the amnesty programme for the resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta region.
Ojo, who made the submission while speaking on the topic “Natural resources governance in Nigeria: Break from fossil fuel and go wild for life” as part of activities to mark the World Environmental Day in Abuja, lamented that successive administrations had preferred to reward militants monetarily rather than exploring a lasting solution to the problem of under-development of the oil-rich region.
He said the ongoing vandalism of oil pipelines by Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) would abate when the people of the region are made to participate in the management of the oil resources in their domain.
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Ayiri Emami and a group, Buhari/Osinbajo Initiative for Demonstrating Change have the Federal Government against negotiating with the militants, insisting their motive is selfish.
Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose had last week urged President Muhammadu Buhari to commence negotiation with the Avengers to save the economy, which he noted, was already facing an imminent collapse.
Speaking at a party rally in Benin City, the Edo State capital, Ayiri while condemning the destructive activities of the militant group, described its resurgence as a fight by the Ijaw nation for survival and not necessarily for the overall interest of the oil-rich region development-wise.
He stressed that the struggle to promote peace and ensure development of the area was being undermined by the group, urging military confrontation and coercion to check the fighters whose vandalism of oil installations in the last couple of weeks had tumbled the nation’s oil output.
The party chieftain, who also frowned at the distraction being put in the way of the Buhari administration which has kicked off the clean-up of Ogoniland In Rivers State, contended that past leaders from the region should be blamed squarely for its under-development.
According the support group’s National President, Chinedu Ogah during a chat with reporters yesterday in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, described the call as meaningless and politically-motivated.
“How can people call the Federal Government to negotiate with those that want to cripple the nation’s economy, those that want to destabilise the unity and peace of the country, to us the call s meaningless and we will resist it,” he queried.
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The Nation: Ogoni cleanup: What means to Nigeria

era-url-iconThe Nation Online

Ogoni clean-up: What it means to Nigeria
by Bisi Olaniyi , June 06, 2016 at 12:44 am in Featured, News
The clean-up of Ogoniland, Rivers State has begun. Port Harcourt Bureau Chief BISI OLANIYI examines what this exercise means to the country
President Muhammadu Buhari has received accolades from stakeholders for kicking off the clean-up of Ogoniland, Rivers State. They have also said the Ogoni  exercise must be the spring board to the general clean up of the Niger Delta.
According to  the Director Administration and Corporate Accountability of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria  (ERA/FoEN),  Akinbode Oluwafemi, Ogoni must be a footpath to the cleaning of the region.
Oluwafemi: “ We are happy about what has happened today, but beyond this, we must ensure that the general clean-up of the entire region should begin. This is justice for the people of Niger Delta.”
Stakeholders also insist that the implementation of the report must include timelines which must define progress.
According to ERA/FoEN Director, Uyi-Ojo:”In as much as the president revealed that structures would be set up for the immediate implementation of the report, no definite timelines were set for these structures to be in place to commence work.”
He also said the government must strengthen oversight bodies, such as the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), to effectively monitor oil spillage and hold oil majors to account.
ERA/FoEN also want the government to incorporate civil society organisations into the Governing Council of the implementation committee and actively engage the people of the region during the clean-up.
However, it may not be time to click the glass as the UNEP Report indicates that the restoration of Ogoni land will take between 25-30 years during which no new spillage must occur.
Minster of Environment Hajia  Amina  Mohammed said the government is aware of the challenges and working towards resolving them. “You’re not going to fix it in few years, no matter what technology you have. You have massive areas of land. Remember I said Ogoni is going to be our starting point, the rest of the Niger Delta is also polluted in heavy ways, perhaps even more so than Ogoni land.
“Even though there have been no production in the last 20 years there are still illegal activities that again refill the pollution,” she said.
The outgoing Executive Director of UNEP, Mr. Achim Steiner, also agreed with the approach: “A clean-up and restoration effort like this cannot happen overnight. I am hopeful that the cooperation between the government of Nigeria, oil companies and the communities will result in an environmental restoration, that benefits both ecosystems and the Ogoni people of Niger Delta.”
The road to clean-up
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in 2005, appointed Rev. Fr. Matthew Hassan Kukah (now Bishop of the Catholic Church in Sokoto) as the mediator between the Ogoni people and SPDC, with one thousand petitions written against him by Ogoni people to the Vatican, but he remained undaunted.
As part of Kukah’s reconciliation process, an impartial, international agency was to be appointed to undertake an environmental assessment and supervise the clean-up of the areas damaged by the effects of oil operations in Ogoni land.
In order to put an end to the many years of neglect, pollution, marginalisation and environmental degradation in Ogoni and to adequately empower the people, in July 2006, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) received an official request from the Federal Republic of Nigeria to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the environmental and public health impacts of oil contamination in Ogoni land, together with options for remediation.
In response, the Executive Director of UNEP, Achim Steiner, deployed a high-level mission in Nigeria, in order to gain a fuller understanding of the request and the expectations of the Nigerian government.
The UNEP team had extensive discussions with various stakeholders, including the then President Obasanjo, Rivers state and local governments’ officials, especially of the four Ogoni LGAs and the management of SPDC.
UNEP team also conducted field visits to Ogoni land and met with the key Ogoni stakeholders. A series of pre-arranged, well-publicised and well-attended public meetings helped the mission to understand local community perspectives and expectations.
Following the preparatory consultations, the UN organisation presented a proposal (including workplans and budgets) to the Nigerian government in January 2007, for a two-phase project: a comprehensive environmental assessment of Ogoni land and an environmental clean-up to follow, based on the assessment and subsequent planning and decisions.
Ex-President Obasanjo agreed with the UNEP’s proposals and made two suggestions: a Presidential Implementation Committee (PIC), under the chairmanship of Bishop Matthew Kukah be formed to oversee the work and that all expenses relating to the environmental assessment by UNEP should be borne by SPDC, under the “polluter pays” principle, with the suggestions agreed to by all parties.
The team of environmentalists also made it clear that the assessment would be completely independent and was also accepted by all the parties.
While the project was approved in 2007, administrative delays meant that fieldwork could not start until late 2009. Fieldwork and laboratory analyses were completed in January 2011. The study resulted in tens of thousands of analyses and photographs, all illustrative of the environmental situation in Ogoni land.
 
The UNEP tough task
Over a 14-month period, the UNEP’s team of experts examined more than 200 locations in Ogoni land, surveyed 122 kilometres of pipelines’ rights of way, reviewed over 5,000 medical records and engaged over 23,000 at local community meetings, while detailed soil contamination investigations were conducted at 69 sites.
More than 4,000 samples were also analysed, including water taken from 142 groundwater monitoring wells, drilled specifically for the study and soil extracted from 780 boreholes. The samples were collected, following internationally-accepted sample management procedures, and dispatched for analysis to accredited (ISO 17025) laboratories in Europe.
Extensive remote sensing analyses complemented the fieldwork, while reviews of legislation, institutions, oil industry practices and available remediation technologies were also undertaken by international experts to complete the study.
The environmental assessment of Ogoni land covered contaminated land, groundwater, surface water, sediment, vegetation, air pollution, public health, industry practices and institutional issues.
For the first time, there is systematic and scientific evidence available in the public arena on the nature, extent and impacts of oil contamination in Ogoni land.
The UNEP initiative was continued in the administration of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua. On August 12, 2011, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan received the 262-page main report, which was issued on August 4, 2011.
UNEP’s team of environmentalists made seventy six recommendations. Fifty of the recommendations are for the government, twenty two for SPDC and four for Ogoni communities.
The UNEP report states that the water in Nsisioken-Ogale-Eleme, Eleme LGA, contains cancer-causing Benzene (carcinogen), which is 900 times the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) standards for water contamination, thereby requiring urgent attention.
The UNEP report also revealed that the sustainable environmental restoration of Ogoni land would take up to 20 years to achieve and recommended that the Federal Government should establish an Ogoni land Environmental Restoration Authority.
The UNEP report indicated that the full environmental restoration of Ogoni land would be a project, which would take 30 years to complete, after the pollution had been brought to an end.
The report recommended the establishment of an Environmental Restoration Fund for Ogoni land, with an initial fund of $1 billion for capacity building, skill transfer and conflict resolution. UNEP also recommended that the management of the fund ($1 billion) should be the responsibility of the Ogoni land Environmental Restoration Authority, among other recommendations.
Rather than implementing the recommendations contained in the UNEP report, ex-President Jonathan inaugurated the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) in July, 2012, less than a month to the first anniversary of the submission of the strategic UNEP report.
HYPREP was condemned and rejected by the umbrella organisation of Ogoni people (MOSOP), which noted that it would cover all crude oil polluted sites in Nigeria, unlike UNEP that focused on Ogoni land.
The then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, on January 8, 2015, during electioneering, visited Ogoni land and promised that if elected, he would implement the UNEP report.
Buhari, on August 5, last year, after 68 days in office, approved many actions to fast-track the implementation of the UNEP report on Ogoni land, including the amendment of the official gazette establishing HYPREP, to reflect a new governance framework, comprising a Governing Council, Board of Trustees (BoT) and Project Management.
The President, who was represented by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on June 2, kicked off the Ogoni clean-up at Patrick’s Waterside, Bodo-Ogoni in Gokana LGA of Rivers state.
Buhari, in his address at the launch of the Ogoni clean-up, declared that his predecessor (Jonathan), did not accord necessary support to the full implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of UNEP on Ogoni land’s environmental assessment.
The kick-off was attended by Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike; his counterpart from Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha; the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside; the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mrs. Ibim Semenitari; and  Steiner.
Others in attendance were Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Sokoto Diocese of the Catholic Church; the Managing Director of SPDC, Osagie Okunbor; Hajia Mohammed; the candidate of the APC for the Rivers Southeast Senatorial District in the March 19 inconclusive rerun in Rivers state, Senator Magnus Abe; MOSOP President, Legborsi Pyagbara; the pioneer Secretary-General of MOSOP, Prof. Ben Naanen, of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT); ministers; members of the National Assembly and other top government officials, among others.
President Buhari said: “Today (June 2) marks another milestone in the life of our administration. I recall the time as a military Head of State, when I visited Bodo Town in Ogoni land.
“During that visit, I commissioned a large fish pond and planted a tree as a sign for that government’s concern for the environment. Unfortunately, since then, the degradation of land, water and air has done huge damage to the fragile ecosystem of the Niger Delta, especially the Ogoni land.
“Oil exploration and production have been going on in Nigeria for six decades. Oil has given a boost to the Nigerian economy, but the ecosystem of the Niger Delta has been severely damaged. Fishing and agriculture have been badly affected.
“There were acts, enactment, laws, guidelines, regulations to govern the operators of the oil industry. However, either because of lack of will or wilful non-compliance with environmental laws, the environment was put in jeopardy.”
The President also stated that in the various communities in the Niger Delta, the negative impact of oil production and lack of consideration for best practices commenced the struggle for justice and fair-play in the conduct of business by the oil industry operators.
He noted that quite unfortunately, the agitations led to loss of lives and property, while international concern was raised, with past governments urged to take decisive steps to address the issues.
President Buhari said: “The report (by UNEP) was submitted to my predecessor in office (Jonathan) in 2011, but the implementation was not accorded the necessary support it required. The people of Ogoni land continued to suffer from pollution of air, land and water.
“After listening to the address presented on behalf of the Ogoni people by Senator Magnus Abe (during his visit to Ogoni on January 8, 2015), we made a solemn commitment that if given the opportunity, we shall implement the UNEP report on Ogoni land. We are determined to put right the wrongs of the past, where the people of this land were treated unfairly and their environment unduly degraded.”
The Rivers governor assured that his administration would provide the required platform for the successful clean-up of Ogoni land and the implementation of the UNEP report, with his administration ever willing to support the  exercise.
Wike said: “On our part, the Rivers State government will ever be willing to provide the platform for a smooth achievement of this long-awaited intervention.
“We acknowledge that this is a federal initiative. The direct impact is borne by our people. We therefore urge all our stakeholders to embrace and support this Federal Government’s gesture and ensure a hitch-free exercise.”
Amaechi, who is a former governor of Rivers state,  disclosed that his administration (as Rivers governor) did everything, including going to church to pray, but the then President (Jonathan) refused to implement the UNEP report.
The immediate past Chairman of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, His Majesty Godwin Gininwa, who is also the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, stated that ex-President Jonathan made a mistake by not implementing the UNEP report, in spite of being a Niger Deltan, from Otuoke, Ogbia LGA of Bayelsa State.
Gininwa said: “Jonathan is my boy. Jonathan made a mistake. He could not do what he promised (implementation of the UNEP report).”
Steiner  said he did not think that the June 2 launch would come, while lauding ex-President Obasanjo for the initiative, stating that the late renowned environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and other Ogoni activists did not die in vain.
Kukah  said in spite of the one thousand petitions written against him by Ogoni people, who alleged that he wanted to return SPDC to Ogoni land through the back door, he was glad that the clean-up had commenced.
Okunbor assured that the Anglo/Dutch oil giant would support the Ogoni clean-up and contribute its share of the Ogoni environmental restoration fund.
Hajia Mohammed assured that the clean-up in Ogoni would be extended to other polluted sites in the Niger Delta, in order to have a safe and clean environment.
Abe, speaking at the event, stated that Ogoni people made history on June 2 by stubbornly insisting on what was right, through non-violent struggle, rather than blowing pipelines or kidnapping expatriates and others.
The President of MOSOP, Legborsi Pyagbara, said environmental restoration was a major plank of the Ogoni struggle.
The pioneer Secretary-General of MOSOP, Prof. Ben Naanen, an indigene of Bodo-Ogoni, noted that with the launch of the clean-up, Ogoni people’s non-violent struggle has yielded result.
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NGO charges FG on Ogoni clean-up

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The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately institute the framework of the clean-up of the oil spill in Ogoniland as part of measures of implementing the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Assessment and Recommendations (UNEP) on the pollution in Ogoniland.

The Executive Director, ERA/FoEN Godwin Uyi Ojo made the call yesterday in Abuja at the advocacy meeting on the clean-up, saying the pollution has continued to spread due to non-action especially on the parts of Shell and federal government.

He said the call became necessary given that there was nothing to indicate that government would commence the clean-up in three weeks as announced and that it was time the present administration matches words with action..

He asked government to make it strategies, roadmap and processes it intends to use to achieve the clean-up and restoration of Ogoniland, alleging that the plight of the Ogoni people had been worsened by non-implementation of the UNEP report due to its politicization over the years.

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