The foremost Niger delta pressure group, the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has demanded reversal of the federal government decision to transfer the project for the clean-up of Ogoniland known as Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), from the ministry of environment to the ministry of Niger Delta affairs.

The Movement made the demand in a statement signed by its president, Prince Nuvete Biira and the secretary-general, Festus Legbara and made available to newsmen in Abuja.

According to the statement, the Movement argued that the ministry of environment is conversant with the Ogoni issue and it is also more competent to handle the project than the ministry of Niger Delta affairs.

It maintained that a change of hands or transfer of responsibility in the project would cause a setback in the clean up project and Ogoni people will bear the consequences of it.

The Movement warned that it would resist the transfer of the mandate to clean up the land from the ministry of environment to Niger Delta ministry.

According to the statement, “In response to the reported transfer of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), from the federal ministry of environment (MOE) to the federal ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA), the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP, has urged the federal government to rescind the decision.

“As, if not reversed, it would have adverse consequences on the ongoing Ogoni environmental remediation and restoration exercise in terms of operational progress and management.

“The ministry of environment as of fact is critical to the success of the Ogoni ecological rejuvenation project, which, if successful, would inform replication in other impacted areas of the Niger Delta and the country at large.

“With the ministry’s acknowledged understanding of the dynamics of Ogoni and the existential conditions connecting the clean-up exercise, any transfer of HYPREP to an organ of government with doubtful capacity, will not be in the interest of the project and our people hence our irresistible resistance.

“Insofar as we are concerned, and as it is factual, the ministry has the resourcefulness including quality environmental governance structure and experience having been involved in ecosystem revival administration for decades. This has given it an edge over the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in terms of experience, technical expertise and managerial competence.

“Interestingly, the committed efforts of the minister of environment. Mr. Mohammed Abdulahi and his team are driving restoration of the clean-up exercise to the path of efficiency and success. Besides, the popular programmes and projects lined up including but not limited to sustainable power supply and skill acquisition training for Ogoni youths, have rekindled the people’s exhilaration and confidence in the exercise.

“The mandate of the MNDA entails implementation of government plans and frameworks for rapid socio-economic development of the Niger Delta region, which has little to do with environmental recovery and control. Hence we are totally opposed to the transfer of HYPREP to MNDA.

“In fact, it was the same reason of incapacity in terms of the said experience, technical knowhow and managerial proficiency that prompted our protest in 2016 against the retention of HYPREP in the federal ministry of petroleum resources occasioning its transfer to the federal ministry of environment.”

The Movement however applauded President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the minister of environment, Mohammed Abdulahi to ensure full delivery of the Ogoni environmental restoration exercise with despatch.

It stated further that “We would thus advise a positive response to this policy statement. This has become imperative as a similar mandate was given the immediate past minister of environment in 2020 following the abysmal performance of the agency in order to reposition the Ogoni ecological recovery programme. But it turned out albeit sadly, to be a reform implemented only in the media.

Nonetheless, we encourage the minister to increase consultative engagements with the accredited representatives of the Ogoni people. This will boost communication and enhance update on developments relating to the HYPREP managed Ogoni clean-up exercise. And thus block rumour mongering capable of generating disaffection between HYPREP and the Ogoni community.

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