From Tony John, Port Harcourt

The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has welcomed the inauguration of the area office of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in Bori, headquarters of Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, and flagging-off its (HYPREP) medical outreach and other activities in the area.

MOSOP has also called on the agency to ensure the success of the undertakings, especially ensuring that the office functions effectively.

The Ogoni apex movement said the call became imperative as it has become the tradition in Nigeria, that rural offices are deliberately neglected and they suffer ineffectiveness.

President of MOSOP, Prince Biira, spoke in Bori on the occasion of the inauguration of HYPREP’s office, saying that the agency’s nearness to Ogoni communities would make the natives feel the Federal Government is concerned about their pains.

Biira expressed that ‘the inauguration of the zonal office and other activities including health assessment of the people, marks some shift from the immediate past and we commend the effort. It is our stance that HYPREP’s coming nearer the people would enhance feeling their pains and concerns and addressing them promptly and properly.

‘But, setting up an office is one thing, and making it work is another. While initiating a medical outreach and related programmes is also one thing, and making them work is yet another.

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‘Hence, we encourage HYPREP to prioritise efficiency as we would accept nothing less. We would equally advise matching words with action by replicating the activities in Eleme, Gokana and Tai Local Government Councils.’

MOSOP recommended that the medical outreach should not be limited to the local government headquarters (Bori), but extended to the villages, stating that villagers might be unable to afford travelling to the LGA capitals for the exercise.

Birra noted: ‘Facts abound that similar efforts in the past that ended at the LGA capitals made no tangible impact as an overwhelming majority of the people were not covered, occasioning outcries and condemnations.

‘Taking a critical look at the state of the project, our organisation has been unsatisfied with the implementation and management of the Ogoni environmental recovery exercise. Hence, we would advise the nascent HYPREP team to concentrate on recording positive impact and be accountable rather than focus only on fraudulent pecuniary benefits and elevating self-importance.’

The MOSOP president described as shameful that HYPREP, with the huge resources at its disposal, has not successfully completed any of the UNEP prescriptions.

He noted: ‘For over four years, it has failed to provide safe, clean portable drinking water in our communities prioritised by UNEP, as an emergency action before any activity else.

‘We would, thus, warn that our patience is running out. Hence, we would warn the HYPREP leadership to wake up from their slumber and be alive to their mandate or be prepared to face the people’s direct mass action.’