Controversy has trailed the shortfall in the funding of the environmental restoration of Ogoniland, as Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project (HYPREP) budget for the year is below $200m.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which carried a detailed study of the devastation of Ogoni environment, recommended an initial capital injection of US$1bn contributed by the oil industry and government to cover the first five years of the cleanup project.
This implies that the sum of $200m is required yearly for the next five years to address what UNEP described as a tragic legacy of oil activities in Ogoni.
The Guardian gathered from a member of HYPREP governing council on condition of anonymity, that contrary to the estimated $200m, the budget for the cleanup, approved in March 2018 was slightly below $150m.He disclosed that the multinational oil companies and their joint venture partner, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had paid their counterpart funding, estimated at about $177m. But the balance of $23m from Port Harcourt refinery, owned by the Federal Government was yet to be received.
“The refinery has not yet paid, not because they do not want to pay. The delay is due to administrative procedures. I think they will pay eventually,” he said.
Former president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ledum Mitee, has accused the Federal Government of deliberately withholding funding for the restoration exercise, because its attempt to coerce Ogoni people into allowing resumption of oil production in their land as a prerequisite for the clean up failed.
“It may interest you to know that none of the contribution for this so-called cleanup has come from the government. They are all contributions from oil companies”said Mitee.
The founder of the Ogoni Solidarity Forum, Celestine Akpobari, who was part of Ogoni delegation that participated in talks with the Federal Government on funding of the clean up exercise, said the refinery’s failure to pay its annual contribution adversely affected HYPREP’s budget and its activities.