Ogoni will resist attempt to include any company that lacks expertise in environmental remediation in the proposed clean up of polluted sites in Ogoniland.
Concerns have also been raised that the remaining $20m to complete the recommended annual $200m by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to be contributed by refineries may leave funding gap this year.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government, last week, stated that the sum of $180m contributed by the joint venture partners was ready for commencement of the exercise.
The President of Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) Legborsi Pyagbara, who is also a member of the Governing Council of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), disclosed that the council met recently, but could not deliberate and give nod to the 21 companies shortlisted for the cleanup exercise.
The UNEP had recommended $1bn initial funding for the first five years for the remediation of Ogoni environment, which will take over 20 years.
Former MOSOP President, Ledum Mitee, said Ogoni people are skeptical that government’s motive in announcing the cleanup at this time might not be altruistic, but political.
Mitee, who explained that Ogoni leaders would meet this week to appraise the situation, said there was no evidence that the money was available.
He also accused government of insulting Niger Delta people, as most of the contracting process was done in Abuja.
Mitee further took a swipe at government’s threat to militarise Ogoniland, instead of addressing concerns raised by Ogoni youths that contractors from Ogoni were not given a level playing ground during the bidding process.
HYPREP project coordinator, Dr. Marvin Dekil, told The Guardian that the $180m provided by oil companies was mainly for the remediation.
He said: “What we have done regarding selection of remediation companies was to undertake an international competitive bidding, which means we advertised within Nigeria and internationally. We received submission from national and international companies. We received 400 submissions, and did pre-qualification for 183 companies. We vetted the result, and now we have 21 companies for the cleanup.”