When he kickstarted his campaign for president in January 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, accompanied by his campaign director-general and governor of Rivers state, Rotimi Amaechi, and a Rivers senator, Magnus Abe, visited Saakpenwa, the headquarters of Tai local government area in Ogoni land, one of the most devastated lands in Nigeria as a result of oil spillages and gas flaring.
After listening to the people, Buhari made a pledge to them. “Your environment has been sentenced to death, much is being taken from Ogoniland but just little is being brought back in return,” he said. “If I am elected as the president of this country, I will complete the abandoned Bodo-Bonny road project and implement the UNEP report.”
On Wednesday, the president took the first steps towards keeping his word to the people of Ogoni.
He approved several actions to fast-track the long delayed implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Report on the environmental restoration of Ogoniland.
Following recommendations by the Executive Director of UNEP, the UNEP Special Representative for Ogoniland, Permanent Secretaries of the Federal Ministries of Environment and Petroleum Resources, and other stakeholders, the president approved the following:
- He amended the Official Gazette establishing the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) to reflect a new governance framework comprising a Governing Council, a Board of Trustees and Project Management.
The HYPREP Governing Council would comprise of one representative each from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Environment, one representative from the impacted state (Rivers), four Representatives of oil companies and NNPC, two Representatives of Ogoni land, one Representative of the United Nations system and a secretariat headed by a project manager.
He also approved the composition of a Board of Trustees for the HYPREP Trust Fund as follows: one FG Representative, one NNPC Representative, one Ogoniland Representative, and one UN system Representative.
It was agreed that a contribution deposit of 10 million United States dollars will be made by stakeholders within 30 days of the appointment of members of the Board of Trustees for the Trust Fund. The board will be responsible for collecting and managing funds from contributors and donors.
A new implementation template was evolved at the instance of President Buhari, and the environmental clean-up of Ogoniland will commence in earnest with the President’s inauguration of the HYPREP Governing Council and the Board of Trustees for the Trust Fund.