By Brave Dickson
Former President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Barr. Ledum Mitee has expressed disappointment over the manner with which the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) is handling the clean up of oil impacted sites in Ogoniland, saying that the agency had deviated from the recommendations of the UNEP report.
Barr Mitee also expressed the same displeasure over the leadership tussles going on in MOSOP, adding that the seekers of MOSOP leadership want to run it like classic NGO against the core mandate of its founding fathers.
In an exclusive interview with our correspondent, the ex MOSOP leader viewed the on-going Ogoni clean-up exercise as political appeasement mechanism to resume oil exploration in the area and also called on those laying claims on MOSOP leadership to seek proper orientation first.
His words: “I am absolutely dissatisfied and I don’t mince words about it. I have said it severally that what is going on now which they call clean up has no bearing with the recommendations of UNEP report. One of the issues of the UNEP report was the question of emergency measures. People who are drinking contaminated water should be provided with alternative potable drinking water and up till now, nothing has been done.
“What seems to be going on now is a cover-up. The activities of those who seem to be doing the so-called clean up have no bearing to the heavy polluted areas. In fact, in some areas, you can not see what they say they are cleaning.
“More than half of those contractors who have collected money are not even on-site as I speak to you now. I don’t think what they are doing has any relevance to the expectation of the Ogoni people.
“I think the best thing is to go back to the drawing board. There are certain things that UNEP report said that they should do which includes: provision of alternative potable drinking water. Then there should be a conversation on how to stop the illegal refining of crude oil popularly called Kpo-fire.
“The UNEP report also recommends the provision of employment. So, what are they cleaning when there is continuous pollution of the environment. I do not think that all these issues have been addressed. These are the basic areas they should start from and not the politicization of what is going on.
“I feel that what is going on is some appeasement mechanism to break the resolve of the people against their planned resumption of oil exploration in the area. They are trying to please some segment of the people so as to resume oil exploration and pollute the environment the more which was what led to the UNEP report in the first place.
“I also think that what is going on in MOSOP is not unusual in any system. But what is of core interest is if those who want to lead MOSOP do understand the real mandate of it. One of the things that I know about MOSOP is that it was well planted in the communities. So, the grassroots mobilization movements were the cornerstone of MOSOP’s very existence.
“It occurs to me that what had happened of late is that there has been an abandonment of the real orientation of MOSOP and has somehow been ran like a classic NGO in the Nigerian context where people can stay in the comfort of their room and claim mandate without any input or even involvement in the process that leads to what they say they are representing them on.
“In terms of resolution of these issues, I think I understand that there are some conversations going on but if the conversations would result into the people’s involvement which is the key thing is what I am not convinced of.”