The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is planning to set up office in Port Harcourt to monitor progress of remediation of oil impacted Ogoni communities, an official said.
UNEP representative, Mr Mike Cowing, made this known on Friday when he led a delegation to the palace of HRM King Godwin Gininwa in Korokoro, Tai Local Government Area of Rivers.
Cowing said: “We will establish UNEP office in Port Harcourt in March, after the forthcoming general elections.
“This will enable us to supervise training and monitor the clean-up to enable the implementation of the report to the later.
He said the body would also mentor, partner and organise training for staff members of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), coordinating agency of the clean-up.
According to him, the HYPREP officials would be trained both in Nigeria and in Europe to acquire requisite knowledge on how to monitor the clean-up exercise.
“We will bring in a team of water and soil sediment scientists as well as public health specialists to complement and supplement the expertise already in HYPREP.
“It is going to be a joint initiative between the two entities to make sure the contaminated sites in Ogoniland are remedied to a desirable standard.
“We are also looking forward to partnering communities to ensure the clean-up is successful,” Cowing said.
Dr Marvin Dekil, Project Coordinator of HYPREP, said the Federal Government was passionate about cleaning up years of oil impacted Ogoni communities.
He said that UNEP’s involvement in the clean-up exercise would guarantee total compliance to recommendation in the report.
“They (UNEP) are going to carry out high level training, and I can assure that the Federal Government’s commitment to the Ogoni clean-up is unwavering.
“We are soliciting the support of the youth, women, and the entire community leadership to ensure the project is successful,” he said.
Responding, King Gininwa, Chairman, Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, commended UNEP for its comprehensive assessment in the oil-polluted Ogoniland.
Gininwa, while thanking President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government for committing resources to the clean-up exercise, said the effort had doused tension in the communities.
“I appeal to UNEP to ensure Ogoni people benefit from the clean-up while implementing the report.
“The United Nations has always stood by the people of Ogoni, right from the Ogoni struggle.
“Therefore, the benefits of the clean-up should not be a matter of APC and PDP, but for the benefit of everybody.
The monarch called on the Ogoni youth to conduct themselves peacefully throughout the exercise, noting that the youth would be the major beneficiaries of the clean-up.
“On our part, we assure of peace and harmony throughout the clean-up. Please, ensure that HYPREP carries out the (UNEP) report to the later,” he urged. (NAN)