By Olaolu Oladipo, Lagos
The Federal Government has explained the strategy for funding the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in Ogoniland, Rivers State.
Speaking during the formal inauguration of the Board of Trustees of the initiative at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari stated that the Federal Government would draw resources from JVC as part of its counterpart funding.
The clean up forms part of the recommendation by the United Nationâ€™s Environment Programme (UNEP) for the clean up of the area from oil pollution and that it comes two months after the ground breaking ceremony that would start the entire process.
This position is further corroborated by the Managing Director of Shell Development Company of Nigeria, Osagie Okunbor.
Speaking at the event, Okunbor said, â€œThe funding the bulk of which is going to be contributed by the SPDC JV and for clarity, the SPDC JV has Shell, Total, Agip and NNPC, so we would be contributing the bulk of this and over the five year period that we expect this to last before we go into the phase of restoration to ensure that the funds based on work programme that we approve are readily available.
â€œThe bulk of the funding is going to come from the SPDC JV which has as a 55% partner the NNPC, so you have to infer that government is in there. But the whole process of our running our business on a day to day basis as Shell SPDC JV involves constant and revision within the JV, so to that extent you have to see the NNPC element of the JV as the government side.â€
With the constitution and inauguration of the governing board and board of trustees of the $1billion fund has put paid to speculations regarding conflicting responses on how government hopes to provide its counterpart funding.
Buhari charged members to ensure the highest level transparency and accountability in the management of the funds, saying â€œIn appointing each and every one of you, I expect that you will give your utmost commitment to ensuring the highest standard of transparency and accountability in this important taskâ€ the President said.
The UNEP, in its recommendation in 2014 said $1 billion would be injected in the first phase of the clean up. The report had also recommended that the oil firm behind the pollution of the area and the Federal Government contribute the money into an Environmental Restoration Fund for Ogoni which would be a running fund.
Coincidentally, the inauguration of the council also came exactly five years when the extensive report and recommendations of the UNEP was submitted to the previous administration on the 4th of August 2011.