The Politicization of a Depraved Ogoni Remediation Project

Posted on July 9, 2017. Filed under: Opinion |

To remediate is to correct or make right. Environmental remediation deals with the removal of pollutants or contaminants from environmental media such as soil, underground water, sediment, or surface water. An Ogoni elite Barinua Wifa (SAN), rightly puts it this way: “Remediation is when you put a person in the position he was before an injury.”

Before the deliberate destruction of Ogoniland by Shell, fishing and farming were the main means of livelihood undertaken daily by the Ogonis. The environment flourished with green vegetation, which supported families and small businesses. The Ogoni region, prior to the destruction was the largest food supplier in the entire eastern region of Nigeria and had the largest mangrove vegetation in the gulf of Guinea.

In 1983, as military head of state, President Mohammadu Buhari commissioned five hundred (500) units of fish farm in Bodo in Ogoni. Unfortunately, during the .flag-off of the Ogoni remediation project by Acting President Osinbajo which took place at the very same site where the fish farm was sited, no sign of those fish farms existed anywhere.

The cleanup had been launched by Acting President Osinbajo over a year ago. In a rather very lackadaisical style, HYPREP is attempting to psychologically manipulate the Ogoni public to accept a process that have been bereft of transparency, deploying heavy media campaign to mislead the public about the true situation.

While we see an uneasiness in HYPREP management to hurriedly get started with the cleanup, award contracts which will most likely go to political kingmakers and compensate for who will get what in the coming political dispensation, there is surely no place for the peasant Ogoni farmers, fishermen and residents whose livelihoods have been destroyed by Shell reckless activities.

The Ogoni cleanup must be organized, transparent and devoid of dishonest manipulation from political gladiators. It should commence with a health audit on the community dwellers, the improvement of all existing medical facilities, the provision of water for all communities, the construction of the Integrated Soil Management Center (laboratory) and the Center for excellence (training center) while adequate compensation is being worked out for the people whose livelihoods have been destroyed.

Nigeria must act right, allow the current process to be trusted and use the opportunity to also address the issues of political marginalization for there can truly be no remediation without a better relationship between the conflicting parties especially the government.

That way, Ogoni will, at least, find its footing and move along a more progressive path to renewed greatness.

By Anthony Aalo


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