HYPREP Chairman Urges Peaceful Assessment Of Govt Projects In Ogoni Community

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The chairman, board of trustees, Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project, Dr. Mike Nwielagh.
The chairman, board of trustees, Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project, Dr. Mike Nwielagh.

The chairman of the board of trustees of the Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project (HYPREP), Dr. Mike Nwielagh has called on Ogoni sons and daughters to embrace peace while evaluating ongoing government projects in the community.

In a significant address during the 31st anniversary of Ogoni Day in Port Harcourt, Nwielaghi emphasised the need for sustained cooperation, peace and dialogue to ensure the speedy delivery of the mandate given by President Bola Tinubu.

Addressing concerns over the safe custody of funds for project implementation, Nwielaghi urged residents to disregard rumours and spurious allegations, assuring them that the funds are securely managed. He highlighted the strict procedures in place for cash withdrawals from Standard Chartered Bank UK and EFG Bank Switzerland, where the funds are domiciled.

“As appointed representatives of the Federal Government of Nigeria overseeing the gains of the struggle, we will continue to work for the overall good of the Ogoni people. Our commitment is unwavering, and we assure you of our support to make Ogoni great,” she stated.

He pointed to the ongoing Ogoni cleanup exercise as a significant achievement and urged collaboration with the government to achieve the program’s set goals. Nwielaghi emphasised constructive criticism over maligning or bad-mouthing the project, calling for unity and cooperation.

Providing details on ongoing projects, Nwielaghi mentioned 20 reticulated water projects, the Ogoni Power Project, Ogoni Specialist Hospital, Buan Cottage Hospital, multi-billion-naira centre of excellence, shoreline protection projects and various livelihood programmes and remediation works. He acknowledged that the impact of remediation works might not be immediately visible but stressed their significance.

Under the supervision of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), HYPREP’s project coordination office is managing landmark projects of the Ogoni cleanup, including the Ogoni Power Project, described as a “star project” with a budget exceeding ₦27 billion in its first phase. Nwielaghi disclosed progress in the reticulation of water projects, overcoming litigations that stalled some projects since June 2022.

Clarifying the fund transfer process, he emphasized that it occurs only on request by the HYPREP coordinating office, approved by the governing council of HYPREP and finally released by the board of trustees Ogoni Trust Fund Incorporated. The board comprises key stakeholders, including ministers, oil companies, UNEP and the HYPREP chairman.

Nwielaghi reassured the public that the project accounts have been audited by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAGF) and overseas investments have been audited by KPMG. He urged those seeking explanations to approach the project office rather than resort to blackmail.

Seeking continuous support, Nwielaghi thanked UNEP, international oil companies (IOCs) and JV-partners for their steadfast draw-down support. He expressed confidence in the project’s funding, stating, “Indeed, funding hasn’t been a problem for the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) and it wouldn’t pose any problem”.

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