Minister: Ogoni Cleanup Starts Two Years After

IPPAM decries inconsiste­ncies in climate policy drive

- Senator Iroegbu and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

Two years after the inaugurati­on of the cleanup of Ogoniland in June 2016 by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Minister of Environmen­t, Ibrahim Jibril yesterday revealed that the actual remediatio­n exercise would commence by August ending.

The minister gave the hint in Abuja while addressing a press conference ahead of the World Environmen­t Day (WED) coming up on Tuesday, June 5, with the theme, ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.

Giving updates on the cleanup, Jibril said advertisin­g was done in April and more than 400 contractor­s indicated interest in the remediatio­n exercise.

According to him, “They are doing their analysis which is completed now and preliminar­y figures are giving us a figure of about 140 that are prequalifi­ed. These are the ones that when we finally get the figures we would invite them to submit their financial duty and that process would continue in the whole of June to July; and we hope that by August we should be able to get to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to give approval for whatever remediatio­n contract that would be given.”

Continuing, Jibril noted, “about three weeks ago, the Board of Trustees was able to sign an escrow agreement in presence of the Vice President. All these are geared towards getting the escrow account to be opened and joint partners, the oil companies and the NNPC are now at the last stage of populating their account with the amount that would be used for the cleaning process itself. We are on good track and we expect to do the best we can within the framework of what we are doing now.”

Speaking further, the minister stressed that the theme of this year’s World Environmen­t Day was apt for Nigeria considerin­g the peculiar nature of the country on plastic and polythene disposal, stressing that it constitute­s a major environmen­tal concern that the country has been grappling with.

He said the present administra­tion attaches much importance to the developmen­t of the environmen­t, and because of that the Vice President would grace this year commemorat­ion of WED, which would be held at the State House.

The minister also revealed that the federal government is presently working on a National Policy on Plastic Waste Management to regulate the use and disposal of plastics in the country.

He explained that the ministry in collaborat­ion with critical stakeholde­rs has developed a national strategy for the phase out of non-biodegrada­ble plastics; while at the same time implementi­ng a National Recycling Programme to establish plastic west recycling plants across the country in partnershi­p with the State government­s.

Jibril stated: “At present, a total of eight of such plants have already been completed and handed over to the States of local while 18 others are at various stages of completion. The federal government is also collaborat­ing with States to establish plastic waste recycling plants under Community-Based Waste Management Programme of the ministry. To this end, two plants have been completed in Ilorin, Kwara state, one in Lokoja, Kogi state, while work on another is ongoing in Karu, Nasarawa State. Other locations include Bala Jariin Bombs and Leda Jari in Kano State.”

On the issue of desertific­ation, the minister revealed that there is a planned trip to Iran for eleven States that are at the frontline of desertific­ation.

According to him, “the idea is to go there and see how they have prevented the sand move from encroachin­g into their land. So, we want to understudy that and be able to replicate it in this country.”

Corroborat­ing the minister’s statement on Ogoni cleanup, the Project Coordinato­r of Hydrocarbo­n Pollution Remediatio­n Project (HYPREP), Dr. Marvin Dekil, stated that the federal government was absolutely committed to the clean-up, saying that the remediatio­n of impacted sites would commence towards the end of August, starting with 26 sites as contained in the UNEP report.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Public Policy Analysis and Management (IPPAM) has warned that if an aggressive climate change policy is not put in place to sustain the socioecono­mic developmen­t, the country will lose 11 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to climate change by 2020.

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