Port Harcourt — Tension is brewing over a purported plan to award N3 billion contracts to three consultancy firms for the Ogoni clean-up exercise.
Ogoni stakeholders including the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) have raised serious concerns about the consultancy contracts when pressing issues like provision of potable drinking water and health facilities that warrant emergency action have not been provided.
A founding member of MOSOP had told The Guardian that the Federal Ministry of Environment which oversees the activities of Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Programme (HYPREP) which is saddled with the responsibility of implementing the United Nations Environment Programme report on Ogoni land, had concluded plans to award a N3 billion contract to three consulting firms even when the actual clean-up has not commenced.
The source said the consultancy job would be awarded for project monitoring, evaluation, and communication. Each of the consultancy firm will be paid N1 billion upfront annually.
Concerned about this, some Ogoni stakeholders had held a meeting in Bori, to review the development and have resolved to resist the award of the contracts because of HYPREP's inability to remedy the multiple health and sustainable development issues facing people in Ogoni land.
When contacted, MOSOP President, Mr. Legborsi Pyagbara, who is a member of HYPREP governing council, told The Guardian that the idea of engaging consultants was first raised by the former Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, but the matter has not been raised since the governing council of HYPREP was constituted.
He explained that in the face of glaring environmental nightmare in Ogoni land, it would be outrageous to expend N3 billion on consultants when the basic emergency measures recommended by UNEP have not been implemented.
Pyagbara stated that there had been speculations that the Federal Executive Council might have endorsed the award of the consultancy contacts. He said Ogoni would want to know when the contracts were negotiated, and who will bear the cost.