The clean-up of the environment in Ogoniland in Rivers State and the dredging of the Calabar have not continued as planned as a result of several litigations. The Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, has said.
The Minister said at the end of the meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation (FEC), presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday in Abuja, blamed some in Abuja on Wednesday some civil society organisations and individuals in Rivers were behind the lawsuits, which have effectively stalled the Ogoni cleanup.
through unnecessary litigations.
Abdullahi was reacting to allegations by the Movement for Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) against the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) handling the Ogoni Cleanup in Rivers State. MOSOP had accused HYPREP of slow pace of work and embezzlement.
Although the Minister said the Federal Government was as concerned as MOSOP over HYPREP’s slow implementation of the project, he said, however, that in most cases, the Federal Government was not the direct cause.
“Sometimes you find that individuals and CSOs within Ogoniland go to court to obtain one sort of order or another against HYPREP from proceeding with some processes.
“So, it has hampered the process as captured in PPP. As we speak now, there’s a group called the Good Conscience that has gone to court to restrain the Federal Government from continuing with those water projects,” he said.
On the allegation of embezzlement against HYPREP, the minister said although he was not aware of accusations, he said he was sure in most cases, they were motivated by very ulterior motives to distract HYPREP.
Regardless he said the government was always open to looking into any concrete allegation of embezzlement that has been made against any of the partners in the ministry.
On the funding arrangement to finance the remediation projects and whether or not the IOCs were involved in the contributions, Abdullahi said the dedicated fund pooled together by the IOCs to finance the remediation projects under the principle of the polluter pays was intact and being superintended by the Ogoni Trust Fund.
Recently, he said the president approved the Crash Calls to finance this projects, in line with the budget as approved by the Governing Council of HYPREP.”
The minister also revealed that the Federal Executive Council approved N123.4 billion for remediation and the execution of a power project in Ogoniland in Rivers, two projects, he said, aligned with the government and United Nations’ Environment Programme’s objective of providing succour to the Ogoni people.
The remediation of the simple hydro-carbon impacted sites in Ogoniland, he said, was to be carried out by 35 different contractors, with a completion period of 24 months at the cumulative contract value of N95.91 billion.
He said FEC approved about N27.59 billion for the construction of 132 KV 16 kilometres of transmission lines and 260 MVA Power Substations in Phase I of the Ogoni Power Project to be completed within 12 months.
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, who also spoke on the status of the dredging of the Calabar channel, blamed litigation for stalling the project.
He revealed that President Buhari had directed his ministry and that of the Justice to see to it that the issues were resolved amicably.
Sambo said the Calabar Channel Management was part and parcel of the other channel managements that had existed between the Nigerian Ports Authority and its joint venture partners, namely the Lagos Channel Management, the Port Harcourt Bonny Channel Management, otherwise called BCCI, Bonny Channel Company Limited and the JV with the Niger Global in respect to Calabar Channel.
He said these three encountered difficulties with the JV partnership, with respect to the Calabar channel dredging, which resulted in several litigations from both sides.’
On the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Eastern Rail Line, Sambo said the inability of the Federal Government to secure foreign loans was frustrating the completion of the project, adding that the completion of rail project during the lifetime of the Buhari administration was no longer feasible due to its inability to secure the 85 perent of the funds needed to execute the project as earlier promised.
In September, while inspecting the work done so far, Sambo disclosed that the contractor in charge of the project, China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCEC) complained of incessant attacks on its workers around the Abia axis of the rail corridor.
He said the government was left with no choice, but to halt the ongoing construction of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Eastern Rail Line due to insecurity and incessant vandalism.
Two years ago, Buhari performed the groundbreaking of the $1.96 billion rail line project, expected to stimulate economic activities in the 14 states when completed.
The benefiting states included the five South-east states of Abia, Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi and Enugu as well as nine others – Rivers, Nasarawa, Benue, Plateau, Kaduna, Yobe, Borno, Bauchi and Gombe.
Sambo further disclosed that the ministry got approvals for the award of four contracts for the upgrade of the Data Centre of the Nigerian Ports Authority, its servers, storage and business continuity at the cost of N1,79 billion, inclusive of 7.5 percent Value Added Tax.
“The other approval was for a concession of the Eastern zone offshore West reception facility, in line with international conventions and environmental laws signed by Nigeria, which when completed, would generate $25 million within a period of 20 years.
He said he also obtained a similar approval for the Western and Central zones of the maritime domain of Nigeria, for a 10-year period.
Sambo also said the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) got approval for the deployment of the modular floating dock acquired by the agency, to be managed under a Public Private Partnership.
“It is going to be managed by a private company that will put in an initial capital investment of 19.5 million dollars for a concession period of 15 years,” he said.
The minister said that when fully established and run, the facility would save Nigeria millions of foreign exchange.