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Ogoni Clean-Up: Sen Abe Makes Case For Ogoni People

...Queries HYPREP Over Spending Of 1 Billion Dollars

Former representative of the Rivers South-East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, has said that Ogoni must benefit from the on-going clean-up exercise of oil impacted sites in the area.

 Abe, who disclosed this in a statement he personally signed and posted on his Facebook account, with the title; "HYPREP: OGONI PEOPLE DESERVE CLEARER EXPLANATION", stated that it would amount to wasted efforts if the exercise has no lasting impact on the lives of the Ogoni people.

 The senator, who was reacting to a television interview granted by the coordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Marvin Dekil said: "A few days ago, I listened to the HYPREP Coordinator Dr. Marvin Dekil talking about the Ogoni clean-up and the benefits to the Ogoni community on a National Television. I was a bit worried and would like to request Dr. Dekil to give us some more information".

 "My greatest fear has always been that the one billion Dollars Ogoni Trust Fund will fall victim to the Nigerian factor. The money will be spent in the name of Ogoni with no lasting impact on the lives of the Ogoni people.

 "That was why we came up with the idea of converting the Centre of Excellence to a university that will become a lasting legacy from the Trust Fund that will endure the passage of time."

However, according to the former lawmaker, Dekil's explanation during the program that each contract will provide a minimum of thirty-five local job opportunities raises more questions than answers.

 "What is the nature of these thirty-five jobs Dr. Dekil talked about? Are they permanent placements? What level of employees are we talking about, and how long will they last, Abe questioned.

 "While we must thank HYPREP for these opportunities, I think the most important question for the Ogoni people should be who are these contractors and what number of these contractors are local?

 "If the contracts require skills that are not locally available what deliberate policy is HYPREP adopting to grow local participation and expand lasting opportunities for the Ogoni people and businesses in the land?

 “To argue the way Dr. Dekil did that HYPREP has no obligation to develop Ogoni because the development of Ogoni is not part of its core mandate is to accept the unacceptable.

 "It is unacceptable that HYPREP can superintend over the disbursement of one billion Dollars named OGONI TRUST FUND and it will not matter if the Ogoni people benefit from it, as long as there is remediation of impacted sites, because that is not the purpose of HYPREP. I reject that argument however sound the logic behind it".

 The former chairman, Senate Committee on FERMA at the 8th National Assembly stated that he is worried by the comments of Dr. Dekil's position on the clean-up exercise because it means that the Ogoni people were prepared to accept the unacceptable.

 The Ogoni, he said, because of its unique history in the Niger Delta is the first oil-producing and polluted community to benefit from this once in a lifetime opportunity, and there must be a lasting impact for the Ogoni people.

 "If the HYPREP mandate does not provide for that then we must find creative ways to make it happen and we have the opportunity to do so now.

 President BUHARI has gone over and beyond the call of duty to make HYPREP real and ensure that it is funded, and our input and participation in the fund is respected.  If we fail to serve our people the best we can with this opportunity, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

 We must also remember that poverty and insecurity are the underlying foundation behind the continued pollution of Ogoni land. In trying to clean-up without addressing these critical issues, HYPREP will merely be wasting the clean-up funds because if illegal bunkering activities continue in the area during or after the clean-up we will be back to square one, (i.e. stuck in a polluted environment full of poverty and human suffering).

 Abe called on Ogoni people to be aware that if they should end up in the same spot after spending a billion Dollars history will be most unkind to them.

 "I had stated from the beginning that I will not get involved in HYPREP so I can see clearly what goes on. I think the Ogoni people deserve a clearer explanation than the one we are getting thus far", he added.