After a careful analysis of the Friday June 20, 2012 News Conference conducted by theNigerian Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Maduekeon the Hydro-Carbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP), the Council of Ogoni Professionals, (COP International, USA) wishes to respond as follows:
(1) That the professional body of all Ogonis in the United States and indeed the entire Ogoni people are appalled that almost one year after the UNEP Report was released and President Goodluck E. Jonathan assured the Ogoni people and the world that his administration will promptly act on the report, no practical steps has been taken by the government to implement the UNEP Reportexcept this latest gimmick.
(2) While we admit that the Nigerian Government reserves the right to establish any project including the HYPREP to tackle any problems, we would appreciate any genuine efforts by the government toward the implementation of the UNEP Report; however, weare concerned that the HYPREP established to specifically “look into the Ogoniland degradation from oil spills” as well as “implement the recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme” does not have anyinputs from theOgoni people, the immediate beneficiaries and the UNEP that is unbiased and professionally equipped to coordinate the implementation of the report. Since the UNEP Report was released almost a year today, the Ogoni leadership has not been able to secure any audience with President Jonathan and others to discuss how the report will be fully implemented.
(3) The timing of the news conference which was done precisely 11 days to the one year anniversary of the release of the UNEP Report raises serious doubts about the seriousness and real intentions of the government. In fact, the news conference unveiling the HYPREP by the Petroleum Minister is nothing short of a failed public relations blitz by the Jonathan Administration to give the public, especially the International Community the false impression that the government is taking steps to implement the UNEP Report. It is alsodesignedto neutralize any criticisms against the government by the Ogonisand her supporters over government’s nonchalance toward the implementation of the UNEP Report.
(4) While not waiting for any further clarificationsfrom the government on what the relationship of the HYPREP is to the UNEP Report and how the HYPREP will implement the report, we view the body’s mandate as a ploy by the government and Shell to invalidate the UNEP Report which holds Shell and the Nigerian Government responsible for the devastation of Ogoniland. If we may ask, why is the government interested in re-investigating and revaluating any oil impacted sites in Ogoni that have already been investigated and evaluated by the UNEP? If we may further ask – where will the money spent on the re-investigation and re-valuation come from since the funds for the implementation of the UNEP Report is not in the 2012 budget and how long will the process of re-investigation and re-evaluation take?
(5) In her July 2012 publication titled “The UNEP Report”, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) states that in response to the UNEP findings, the company amongst others “Re-sampled the sites identified in the report and has confirmed the soil remediation was in compliance with regulatory limits”. This latest claim by Shell which directly contradicts and challenges the findings of the UNEP Report is exactly what the HYPREP will be doing “investigating and evaluating any oil impacted sites in Ogoniland and coming out with its own findings which will be consistent with Shell’s and we are not surprised that both Shell publication “The UNEP Report” and the HYPREP are coming out at the same time – July 2012 – few days to the one year anniversary of the release of the UNEP Report. The timing of the Shell publication and the mandate of the HYPREP once again demonstrate a well-coordinated effort by both parties to undermine the UNEP Report.
From the analysis above and the facts on the ground, it is abundantly clear that the Jonathan Administration is not interested in fully implementing the UNEP Report on Ogoni. We therefore use this special opportunity to once again call on President GoodluckEbele Jonathan to fully implement the UNEP Report in accordance with internationally acceptable standards and as prescribed in the report. We also vow to leave no stone unturned in our determination in seeking an end to the environmental slavery that the Ogoni people have been subjected to over the years as a result of the reckless oil exploration and exploitation activities by Shell in collaboration with successive Nigerian Governments.
Anslem D. John-Miller
(Chairman, Caretaker Committee)