HYPREP’s 70% Completion Claim – Unraveling the true state of the remediation project
To be released
18th August 2020
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and its allies have expressed concern over the level of politicking that has enveloped the entire cleanup process which was conceived to restore, remediate and rehabilitate the people of Ogoni and the Niger Delta region as a whole. This is adversely affected by weak coordination between the State and Federal Government in the project implementation which has turned out to be a huge challenge and causing several setbacks.
Environmental contamination caused by hydrocarbons is an epidemic in the Niger Delta region. Several oil spills have negatively affected human health and other receptors including land, air and water resources, leading to extensive socio-economic and cultural impacts on local communities in the area. Following wide scale national and international agitations, the Nigerian Government commissioned the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to undertake the environmental assessment of Ogoniland – a section of the Niger Delta. UNEP released its seminal report in 2011 (9 years ago) and suggested that the Nigerian Government should immediately implement certain emergency measures and also undertake the remediation of polluted sites in Ogoniland and the wider Niger Delta. In response to the report, the Nigeria Government established the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) to implement the recommendations of the UNEP report in Ogoniland. HYPREP has been in operation in Ogoniland for over three years. Within this period, HYPREP achieved the following milestones;
- Set of governance structures
- Delineated the remediation work into two phases, to address 26 sites in both phases (no information on the remaining sites UNEP investigated)
- Adopted 13 sites in the first phase and delineated the 13 sites (from UNEP investigation) into 21 lots
- Handed over the 21 lots to contractors
- Pre-qualified the contractors (without due diligence on the contractors)
- Awarded contracts to the 21 lots on October 2018
- Awarded another 36 contracts (phase 2) in January 2020
- Received a cumulative $360 million
- Collaboration with Stakeholder Democracy Network to establish the cassava processing plan
- Training of 30 youths in cassava processing
Howbeit, a linear perception exists on the progress and success of the Ogoni remediation since its inception. Different stakeholders including the Federal Ministry of Environment and HYPREP have admitted that the process has been slow and they are working to restructure the governance and operationalization of the clean-up process. However, HYPREP in July 2020, published a newspaper report stating that it has completed 70% of the first phase of the Ogoni clean-up, despite concerns highlighted by stakeholders that the clean-up process has been derailed. This statement is viewed as a deliberate attempt by HYPREP to distract stakeholders from the focus of the clean-up. To ascertain the substance of the 70% completion, it will be important for HYPREP to substantiate the claim with adequate responses to the questions below:
- For over three years of HYPREP’s operation, has there been an independent monitoring of the clean-up process? If yes, by which organization?
- Are there plans for the acclaimed completed sites? Could HYPREP publish such plans for the acclaimed completed sites?
- UNEP has provided some capacity building for the project for the last one year. Can HYPREP publish UNEP’s perception of their success?
- Is there a blueprint for livelihood restoration that covers all facets of stakeholders and impacted communities in Ogoniland?
- Three years into project implementation, when would water be provided in impacted communities.
- Does HYPREP have a blueprint for addressing re-pollution from un-serviced assets and artisanal refining activities?
- Are there any parallel reports to HYPREP’s record of the contractors’ operations or the clean-up activities?
- Is there a workplan for the remediation project? Can the public access it?
- The key performance indicators (KPI) is an indispensable tool in the monitoring of remediation projects. Does HYPREP has one? If yes, could it be accessed in the public domain to enable independent probing of contractors?
- HYPREP contracted 21 lots, and six of these are said to be completed. Does it mean that those 6 lots constitute 70% of the phase 1 lots?
- Could HYPREP produce the laboratory results of the six lots it claimed to have completed remediation works?
- Could the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) produce monitoring records of the acclaimed completed lots?
- Could HYPREP produce the DPR and NOSDRA certification of the solutions used by contractors for clean-up in Ogoniland?
- Are there conflict of interest arising from allotment of sites to laboratory analysis of samples? And if yes, what is being done to address such conflicts and its impacts on the credibility of the project.
- HYPREP is not lacking funds. Why is the project suffering delays and bottlenecks?
- Beyond the federal government, what roles have the Rivers State Government played in ensuring the sustainability of the gains of the remediation project? Or the provision of potable drinking water.
Beyond the concerns highlighted above, there are more issues that could benefit stakeholders and the remediation project. For example, if HYPREP could score itself on the implementation of the emergency measures rather than Phase 1 of the clean-up exercise. This is because, the motive of the UNEP report was that the implementation of the emergency measures should precede the remediation. What is paramount and significant to local communities is the provision of potable drinking water.
Several scorecards on the Ogoni clean-up has scored HYPREP lower on the implementation of both aspects of the project – emergency measures and remediation. The emergency measures are implemented in an adhoc manner which undermines overall benefit to the communities. Similarly, the environmental remediation aspect of the project and associated critical infrastructure required for effective contaminated land remediation are yet to be developed, and thus pose significant risk to the achievement of the overall project goal. Of the 8 elements on the emergency measures, only public awareness of the project has been attempted. Even that has been weak and ineffective following the weak strategy adopted by HYPREP.
On the remediation, competence of the contractors, access to funds, the Ogoni context and terrain, and choice of ‘one size-fits-all technology’ remain major challenges for contractors. HYPREP’s competence and understanding of UNEP’s recommendations is perceived as a challenge for the success of the project. For example, UNEP recommended opening a medical register for communities impacted communities. However, HYPREP undertook health outreach for local communities. Health outreach cannot be used to derive the sort of data required for monitoring the presence of hydrocarbon in bodily tissues.
To help the remediation process, civil society organizations should provide project management capacity skills for HYPREP. It is worrisome that HYPREP has funds yet progress is abysmal. Answers to the concerns above could open opportunities for civil societies to provide needed support for the progress of the project.
- That HYPREP should validate its KPI with stakeholders, particularly the CSOs coalition on the clean-up.
- That an immediate CSOs desk be constituted within HYPREP to share regular information with stakeholders, internal and external.
- That an immediate review be conducted by the UNEP team alongside independent stakeholders to access progress made drawing indicators from the UNEP report
- That State and Federal Government coordination on the project should be strengthened and remove any political undertone in this people oriented project.
- That the recent restructuring announced by the Hon. Minister should be unpacked and clearly communicated to then public on specificities bothering on administration, operations, Finance, Procurement, and Personnel.
In Port Harcourt,
18th August, 2020
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)
Executive Director, CISLAC