…’Not Jobs For Political Allies’
A former President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Barr. Ledum Mitee, has expressed deep concern over sanctity of the oil clean-up in Ogoniland and appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to take steps to ensure that he is committed to a credible clean-up process.
In a statement made available to newsmen, Barr. Mitee said: “Developments relating to HYPREP in recent times have heightened my deep concern for the sanctity of the oil spill clean-up in Ogoni under the HYPREP which the present administration of President Buhari during campaigns in 2015 and thereafter made a signature commitment of the administration.
“Apart from the fact that in the recent past several stakeholders have expressed concern about the high turnover of supervising Ministers over the project, those concerns have heightened in the past couple of weeks following the news of what appears to be a tussle over which Ministry should oversight and thus control HYPREP and its budget”.
Barr. Mitee said that the Minister of Transport speaking at a retreat on behalf of President Buhari announced that the President had ordered HYPREP to be moved from Ministry of Environment to Niger Delta Ministry which, according to him, was refuted by Ministry of Environment quoting a circular by which the outfit was ordered by the President to be under Ministry of Environment.
The former MOSOP President said: “Remarkably, the statement by the Environment Ministry stated that the President has ordered a full audit of the accounts of HYPREP from inception to date and I hope it is not a repeat of the NDDC experience where in the face of mind-boggling revelations about corruption, a so-called forensic audit was ordered which has perennially been ongoing creating the excuse for business as usual”.
He complained that the HYPREP draft budget for the remaining part of the year had exponentially risen to a record $300m compared to last year’s budget which was just $35m and that opaque contracting processes which have been dominated by the wishes of the supervising Ministry evidenced by unqualified companies have been shortlisted and awarded contracts for remediation.
He also said that there were incessant complaints by communities and stakeholders that despite huge expenditures HYPREP had not impacted on communities.
According to Barr. Mitee: “UNEP whose association with the project gave it some needed credibility has given notice that they would leave because they no longer want to be associated with the project”.
He expressed fear that with the latest struggle for control and all other issues facing HYPREP, it “may well be another signal to carry out an election year spending that would drain up the funds available for actual clean-up and development of Ogoni”.
He said that he was calling on the President who had personally made pledge to the people of Ogoni to demonstrably take steps to ensure that he is committed to a credible clean-up process and not merely giving jobs for political allies.