The Federal Government has said that there is no going back on its cleanup initiative in Ogoni Land as all is now set to commence the full implementation of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in the community.
Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril made this knownon Thursday at the opening of a two-day retreat of the Ministry with the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP and its Consultants held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The Minister who was represented by his Senior Technical Assistant, Dr Ishiyaku Mohammed reiterated government's commitment to the actualization of a friendly and habitable environment in the Niger Delta, stressing that “President Muhammadu Buhari is personally very concerned about the environmental degradation of the region and has already directed for a timely and effective clean-up of the Ogoni land".
He explained that the planning stage for the clean-up of Ogoniland was consistent with the recommendations of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Report and it is now time for the full remediation of the land and other deliverables contained in the report. According to him, the Federal Government was conscious of the anxiety of the Ogoni people over the perceived delay in the clean-up of their communities and assured that the much awaited next phase of the project which the people have been looking forward to is now ready for implementation.
He said this underscored the importance of the Retreat which is to harmonize the workplan of the Units and that of the Consultants so as to have an energized HYPREP team built on mutual trust with a well defined line of communication. The retreat, he added, is to also create the platform for a seamless coordination of the implementation of the remediation projects already advertised and which are expected to commence around September 2018.
Earlier, the Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr Marvin Dekil in his remarks called on the Consultants which are the Project Management Consultant, Monitoring and Evaluation Consultant and Communication Consultant to see their roles as complementary and harmonize expertise to deliver on the mandate of the project.
Other highlights of the retreat include a paper presentation by the three consultants on their work plans followed by question and answer session. (END)
Saghir el Mohammed
Federal Ministry of Environment
Management of contaminated environments in Nigeria for sustainable development was the thrust of discourse at a one-day National Summit on the Niger Delta Clean-up held in Abuja recently. Funke Olaode, who was at the summit, reports
The Niger Delta Region produces the oil wealth and account for over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign earning. While the States in the region bear the crude oil that is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy, the government remains legalistic in addressing the negative effects of oil exploration in the region.
Figures from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) indicate that between 1997 and 2001, Nigeria recorded a total number 2,097 oil spills incidences amounting to 1,947,600 barrels of crude oil while thousands of barrels of oil have been spilt into the environment through pipeline and tanks in the country. While this is going on, enforcement of environmental regulations is still poor as industries continue to discharge untreated waste water into the environment and the degradation of the environment of the Niger Delta following the exploratory activities of multi-national oil companies has continued unabated.
The people of the area have continued to complain bitterly about mass poverty, hunger, disease, environmental degradation and loss of their traditional means of livelihood. With these scourges ravaging the land, the cries from all and sundry for the region became imperative to get rid of contaminated soil.
It was against this backdrop that a one-day National Summit on Niger Delta was convened by the Civil Society Legislative Center (CISLAC) in collaboration with African Center for Leadership, Strategy and Development with the support of Cordaid.
The well attended Summit held at Bolton Hotel Abuja was graced by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jubril; executive director of CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani; Dr. Otiove Igbuzor, representatives from embassies, Ogoni traditional rulers led by His Royal Highness Baridam, Akinwunmi Oke, Modi Esasa, MOSOP President, Pyagbara Lergborsi and Comrade Jaye Gaskia amongst others.
In his short remarks, the convener, Rafsanjani, said the summit was convened to remind the government of its promise to clean up the Niger Delta. Rafsanjani said the call was imperative to discuss the prevalent issues affecting the Niger Delta region in terms of environmental tragedy as people still drink water laced with contaminated soil.
“The clean-up of Niger Delta is an agitation that has been going on for some time now. I remember a committee was drafted to the implementation process. Unfortunately, the last administration did nothing to implement the clean-up. At this stage, the process must not be politicised or regionalised but must be seen as a national issue looking at the magnitude of pollution in the region.
Corroborating Rafsanjani on the need for the federal government to see the clean-up as an emergency exercise, executive director of the African Center for Leadership, Strategy and Development Center, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, going down memory lane said Nigeria is West Africa’s biggest producer of petroleum and the seventh largest producer in the world. The current capacity of crude oil in the Niger Delta stands at 2 Million barrels per day while a 2012 data showed that 38 billion barrels of crude oil still reside beneath the delta. The nonchalant attitude of government to the damage caused the region through oil exploration, he claimed was the cause of restiveness in the Niger delta.
“Over the past decades, the Niger Delta terrain has been overrun through deliberate over-exploitation carried out in total disregard of the basic principles of sustainable environmental management. At the center of the environmental degradation, loss of livelihood and deprivation, and the general lack of development in the region had led to various conflicts and violence in which the youths in the region have taken their destiny in their own hands.
“Of course, the continued militancy in the region directly impacts both the revenue of government as well as the operation of the multinational companies.
The result, he pointed out, was that oil production was brought to as low as a little over a million barrels in 2015 and 2016. The intervention of the present government through the launch of the Clean-up of Ogoniland by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, in June 2016 gave credence to government commitment to the social and environmental challenges facing the Niger Delta.”
Igbuzor urged all the stakeholders to be open and frank in their contributions to this laudable course so that collectively, they could come up with robust strategies that could catalyze the processes leading to the proper clean-up of the Niger Delta.
In his address read by Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jubril, Osinbajo commended the conveners of the Summit, saying it was quite apt considering the agitation of the public on this topical issue and the efforts being made by the federal government to deliver on the promise of implementing the recommendations in the UNEP report on Ogoniland and the clean-up of contamination in the Niger Delta as a whole.
On the effort made so far after the submission of the UNEP report in 2011, he said the federal government in August 2012 set up the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, as a vehicle to implement the UNEP report on the clean-up of the contaminated sites in Ogoniland.
“Since the inception of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, and in line with the campaign promise, significant strides have been made towards realising the recommendation of the UNEP report.”
Shedding more light on various steps taken so far to ensure that the clean-up was carried out without delay, Osinbajo said in 2016, government revived and transferred HYPREP from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to the Federal Ministry of Environment through an inter-Ministerial Consultative Forum.
On August 4, 2016, a governing council and a board of trustees were inaugurated to ensure a transparent implementation of the project and engender financial probity while government has also established the project coordinating office of HYPREP in Port Harcourt, Rivers State with a project coordinator recruited and other key staff seconded from federal and state civil service, in accordance with the HYPREP Gazette.
To show how committed the federal government has been, he stressed that a dedicated Trust Fund Account has been opened, with a BoT to oversee and ensure access to funds for the implementation of the activities of the project.
“With the organisational structure well in place, HYOREP has been focusing on the implementation of the recommendations of the UNEP report, starting with suggested emergency measures. Some of the recommendations of the UNEP report geared towards restoring and promoting the socio-economic sustainability to ameliorate the suffering of the people of Ogoniland and the Niger Delta Region include provision of clean drinking water as reports revealed the existing water facilities contain high concentrations of hydrocarbon contaminants of major health concern.
With the reports of the assessment exercise showing that the existing water facilities are obsolete and they do not meet up with the WHO standards, HYDREP has advertised for expressions of interest from experts to design and implement Ogoniland Water Development and Reticulation Plan to the WHO Water Quality Standards.”
On pilot demonstration of clean-up and remediation technologies, Osinbajo noted that some of the firms have signified interest to demonstrate their various technologies to clean up and remediate the impacted sites at no cost to the government or the programme.
“There are various remediation technologies the world over and some of them are site specific, which implies that whatever technology that worked in some parts of the world may not necessarily be applicable in Ogoniland and other parts of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, hence the need for the government to shop for the best environmentally sound and economically feasible and locally adaptable technology in line with global best environmental practice”
One of the recommendations of the UNEP report, according to Osinbajo, is to restore the livelihood of the communities, adding that a consultative workshop on the various types of skill acquisitions has been held with the Ogoni women.
“HYPREP in partnership with United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is presently developing the content of the training while other global and local entrepreneurship institutions and bodies will come on board to promote critical infrastructure and mentorship for women. In order to develop capacity and involve the communities in the implementation of the project, HYPREP has also undertaken the training of graduates in environmental science as technical assistants in June 2017.”
While assuring the participants of government’s continued support to ensure that it is committed to this course, Osinbajo said the body (HYPREP) had also been engaged in various consultations with ex-artisanal refiners, while training is being conducted for them on the need to stop illegal bunkering and refining of crude oil, which is one of the major culprits in the hydrocarbon contamination.
Rounding up his speech, Osinbajo said the process of restoring the impacted sites of Ogoniland and the other Niger Delta Region to engender the socio-economic sustainability of the region is not all about cleaning up alone, but involves a “consortium” of processes. This, he said, is to avert recurrence of recontamination of old and new candidate sites.
Reiterating the determination of the administration to transform Nigeria into industrial, agricultural, economic and environmentally sustainable giant through the provision of enabling environment for all, Osinbajo pleaded passionately with the general public to follow the laid down plans systematically to avoid undue agitations and wrong information on the current efforts of the administration.
The Minister of Environment, Malam Ibrahim Jibril, on Friday called on wood and allied dealers to protect the wild flora and fauna in the country, for a sustainable environment.
Jibril made the call during the Two-Day Interactive Workshop for Sensitisation and Awareness Creation On Wood Export Procedure and CITES Implementation In Nigeria in Lagos.
He said that wild flora and fauna were renewable natural resources endowment of every society and they provide sustenance of livelihoods at various levels of economic development.
The Minister said that forests and forest resources contributed significantly to the economic development of advanced countries like the US, Canada and Finland.
According to him, in developing countries like Nigeria, they underpin people’s livelihoods and economic development in areas such as furniture, construction, housing, food security, medicare and environmental services.
“Illegal trade on wild flora and fauna resources must, therefore, be stopped.
“It threatens the environment, deprives communities of their livelihoods, decreases revenues for governments, for businesses and increases the probability of conflicts and insecurity, in addition to jeopardising the survival of species.
“Government is aware of these socio-economic aspects of forest operations, particularly in creating rural employment, generating income, support livelihoods and enhance poverty reduction.
“These socio-economic aspects of forest operations are all in line with the Economic Growth Recovery Plan (EGPR), seeking for benefits from various ways of economic diversification from non-oil exports.
“Government is also aware of the results of large trade volumes between nations and the effects on the economy,’’ he said.
Jibril said that the consumption of flora and fauna products and services were expected to be compatible with economic development, social benefits and environmental sustainability.
He said that one of the most pressing issues, therefore, was ensuring a balance between both ends.
According to him, sustainable utilisation of these resources calls for monitoring of market and trade patterns.
“It also calls for ensuring compliance with regulations, standards, procedures and process for access and ensuring the rights of generations yet unborn to the enjoyment of same, as secured,’’ he said.
The Minister said that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was an international treaty to control, and regulate the use of species of plants and animals that were threatened, endangered or are at the verge of being extinct.
He said that the convention was domesticated in Nigeria through the National Wildlife Protection Act 2016, which sought to protect specific flora and fauna species that were indigenous to the country from going extinct.
According to him, under these two regulations, the plants and animals and their derivatives, listed under Schedule/Appendix l, are not to be traded at international markets.
“Government has identified low level of sensitisation and awareness creation as one of the factors responsible for non-compliance with standards in trade in timber and species of wildlife.
“The sad incidence where a colony of chimpanzees was killed by local hunters in delta state recently is evidence of ignorance and insufficient information on the need to protect our endangered species.
“This particular animal is an endangered specie that is protected both by international and national regulations.
“Chimpanzees as we all know have some common features with man and lots of research results from them are useful in the treatment of many ailments in man. We surely need these animals to support our survival.
“The same goes for trees such as timber species that are becoming extinct like Iroko, Apa, Mahogany, Obeche, Ebony, Mansonia Rhizophora. These are not permitted to be traded at the international market.
“Government, in conjunction with stakeholders and various NGOs, will continue to intensify campaign and sensitisation on the status of these plants and animals and the regulations guiding their conservation and protection from ignorant hunters and predators,’’ he said.
Jibril also said that actionable strategies to address issues of deforestation and forest degradation in the country had received the approval of the Federal Executive Council.
He said that efforts were ongoing toward the establishment of a National Forestry Trust Fund, among others, to advance forest development for both production and protective purposes.
The Director of Forestry, in the ministry, Mr Michael Osakuade, said that in the last two years, the ministry had continuously engaged, collaborated and dialogued with major players in the wood export business.
Osakuade said that the players were represented by the Processed Wood Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (PROWPMAN), Tropical Wood Exporters Association of Nigeria (TWEAN) and the enforcement agencies in the various aspects of the wood export and have evolved actionable strategies to address deforestation.
He said that the basic reason for the effort was to ensure sustainable use and legal trade in wood and other forest products.
According to him, the workshop was strategically designed to create awareness and increase understanding of the need for compliance with established standards, regulations and procedures for sustainable and labour trade.
“It focuses on the need to ensure that stakeholders in the wood and allied product trade are kept abreast of the regulations guiding the trade.
“We have the responsibility of balancing the environment. From tomorrow, if you are exporting Mahogany, Obeche and Rhizophora, you are a criminal and we will treat you as one.
“However, this species of wood can be traded locally, but not outside the country,’’ he added.
Patience Oniha, the Director-General, Debt Management Office, DMO, says the federal government is planning to issue N10.6 billion green bonds to finance renewable energy projects to protect the environment.
Mrs. Oniha said this in Abuja on Thursday at the Nigeria Green Bond Investors Forum organised by the federal ministries of environment and finance, in collaboration with Green Bond Advisory Group.
She said that the forum was to educate prospective investors in the Green Bond programme to know the benefits of investing in green bond projects.
The director-general said the federal government acted to borrow the N10.6 billion, in line with its borrowing agenda contained in the 2017 budget.
According to her, more funds will be allocated to finance green bond projects in the subsequent budgets.
Mrs. Oniha said that the bonds would be used to finance three renewable energy projects, which were Renewable Energy Micro-Utilities Programme, Re-energising Education Programme and Afforestation Programme.
Also speaking, Halimat Bwari, the Deputy Director, Department of Climate Change, Federal Ministry of Environment, said that N142 billion would be required to finance renewable energy projects in the country.
Ms. Bwari said that the ministry decided to issue the Green Bond as alternative source of funding because of the huge capital outlay required to finance the nation’s renewable energy projects. She noted that the bond would boost the nation’s economy and protect the environment.Besides, Ms. Bwari said, the ministry had inaugurated five low-carbon growth projects.
She listed the projects as the Rural Energy Access, the Great Green Wall Programme, the National Clean Stoves Scheme, the Clean Energy Transportation Scheme and the Nigerian Erosion and Watershed Management Project.
She said that the projects would go a long way to reduce carbon emissions in Nigeria, while facilitating the country’s efforts to meet its commitments in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that stakeholders that participated in the forum include Pension Funds Administrators (PFAs), Federal Ministry of Finance, Inter-ministerial Committee on Climate Change and Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Others are DMO, Central Bank of Nigeria, Securities and Exchange Commission, the World Bank and Chapel Hill Denham as well as representatives of private sector organisations.