Ogoni youth leaders in Rivers State have threatened to disrupt the activities of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project HYPREP if their demands are not met. They are not happy with the alleged mismanagement of the project which was initiated by the federal government for the purpose of bringing succour to the people of Ogoni.
This was part of a communiqué from a joint stakeholders meeting, issued to HYPREP by Mr. Nwisabari Bani, the Rivers State Chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Mr. Kingstom Menek, President, National Youth Council of Ogoni People NYCOP, Mr. Imeabe Saviour Oscar, President, Ogoni Youth Development Initiative and National President, South-South Youth Initiative, Wiwa Yira, Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni Martyrs and Tuanwin L. Ateni, the general coordinator, Ogoni Ex-Arsenal.
According to them, “the livelihood programme which was also a key aspect of this project that was supposed to give a sense of belonging to the youths of the land has been so politicized and whittled down to a level that has turn the Ogoni youths beggarly on a project they should claim ownership of.
“This and many other ills in HYPREP today has made a mess and mockery of the good intentions of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, who came through as a white knight to the Ogoni people when we needed him most.
“You will recall that in 2017 when the clean-up programme took off, Ogonis were very upbeat about their expectations, but sadly five years after, two project coordinators had come and gone and now we are operating with the third; yet the story is the same or even worse. Today all contracts in HYPREP are being awarded to faceless contractors without recourse to the established local content act which guarantee the local contractors to have a fair share of the allocation in the contract spread.”
They regretted that “five years down the line, not even a single aspect of the project has been conclusively done, yet millions of dollars and billions of naira have been frittered away. The project which was supposed to be a field project has been convert to a paper work which only exist in Abuja while the degraded environment which was supposed to be remedied are idling in further degradation.
“Ogoni has gone through untold hardship, ranging from emotional blackmail emanating from failed expectations and loss of expected revenue through the comatose livelihood programme,, and despite the effort by UNEP to provide direction for the project, the recalcitrant clique in the system has constantly ensured that these efforts come to knot.
“Contractors who have no business in environmental works are those holding sway in HYPREP today as long as they have an Abuja connection. For almost a year now, no reasonable work has been done in HYPREP except vague gathering in the name of workshop and empty promises, whereas overhead expenses are being spent on daily and monthly basis to service the Abuja offices to the detriment of the Ogoni people who should be catered for in the first place.”