Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina Wednesday, August 5, 2015 announced that the president has approved the ‘fast-tracking’ of the implementation of a the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland, a report detailing a massive revamp of Ogoni, an oil-rich area of Rivers State.
Adesina disclosed that the sum of $10 million would be made available for the start-up of the project, a remark that has been applauded from several quarters.
Unknown to many, the clean up of the area – as proposed by the UNEP report – is supposed to cost the whopping sum of $1 billion and would take about 30 years to accomplish.
Also unknown – probably due to under-publicity – the process for the implementation of the UNEP report had already been implemented by former President Goodluck Jonathan who commissioned the UNEP assessment to check the level of damage done to the Ogoni environment and proffer solutions to the extremely degraded area.
Earlier in July 2012, Jonathan commissioned the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HPRP) to implement the environmental clean-up in Ogoniland and conduct environmental assessments in other parts of Nigeria impacted by oil contamination.
The UNEP report made recommendations to the government, the oil and gas industry and communities to begin a comprehensive cleanup of Ogoniland, restore polluted environments and put an end to all forms of ongoing oil contamination in the region.
Over a 14-month period, the UNEP research team gathered over 4,000 soil, fish, air and water samples taken from 142 groundwater monitoring wells, drilled from 780 boreholes.
The UNEP team also examined more than 200 locations, surveying 122 kilometers of pipeline rights of way, reviewing more than 5,000 medical records and engaging over 23,000 local in community meetings.
At the end of the detailed research it was concluded that the cleanup of Ogoniland would be done by successive governments at an initial financial start up of $1 billion – as against the $10 million released by President Buhari.It remains to be seen if President Buhari will follow up this initial implementation with the necessary funds and drive as stipulated by UNEP.