Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
The United State of America yesterday expressed satisfaction over the implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme report on Ogoniland, insisting that the programme would be successful if the coordinators source manpower locally.
They said the people of Ogoni, especially the four Local government areas affected must feel the impact of the project and contribute for the success of the programme.
It will be recalled that eight days ago, the Resident Coordinator of United Nations in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallou was in Ogoni land to assess the progress of the clean-up.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Syminton who led his team to the PortHarcourt office of Dr. Malvin Dekil, the Project Coordinator, Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Programme (HYPREP) said he was in Port Harcourt to get information about Ogoni clean-up.
Syminton who commended the idea by HYPREP to think of providing water and building health facilities to the communities in Ogoni area, said the project should target on the people by ensuring that everyone is happy at the end of the day.
He noted that united state is interested to partner with Nigeria government and those handling the programme to see how and where they can assist in achieving a good result for the people of Ogoni and the people of Niger Delta.
Syminton said: “We are here to assess the progress in Ogoni land, we are happy to hear that work has started, we are also glad that they are thinking on how to provide clean water for the communities including the provision of health facilities.
“This is part of the remediation; it is not about starting this project, it is about the people, the community and to ensure that everyone is involved. The united state is interested in the area of provision of healthcare facilities. And we are going to look at areas to partner with you but we are happy that something is going on in Ogoni land.
“We would like to know how the fund is being release to you, what is the structure of the decision making body of this programme. Are the people affected fully represented, who are these people, is the private sector and local community part of the structure. I will advise that you source your manpower locally.”
Responding, Dr. Malvin Dekil, Project Coordinator, Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, the body in charge of the remediation process in Ogoni land, said they are involving Ogoni people in the project including training of some of them to be useful to the project.
He said his office will be happy if the US partners with them in the area of infrastructural collaboration and in other area of the implementation of the UNEP report on Ogoni land.
Dr. Dekil said: “In the last few months, we have achieve a remarkable progress. One of them is that the programme is designed to empower the people and to remediate the economic life of the area. The programme is aimed at supporting women and youths of the area.
“ We are also providing water to the communities as recommended in the UNEP report, we are building technological sites. We intend to open more sites in the four Local government areas in Ogoni so that companies who are interested and have the technology that could assist in the project can come and partner with us.
“The IOC, the governing Council, the board of trustees are the one that is in-charge of how this money will be utilized. We have a good component and we are working for the progress of the project. The issue of how much has been released so far rest in the hand of board of trustees.
“We are expected to spend $200million yearly for five years, the project condition is perfect and the federal government took time to put everything in order.”