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Ogonis want FG to use indigenous contractors for project

A group, Ogoni Peoples Assembly (OPA), has called on the minister of environment to consider indigenous contractors in the execution of water and remediation projects…

A group, Ogoni Peoples Assembly (OPA), has called on the minister of environment to consider indigenous contractors in the execution of water and remediation projects in the ongoing Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP).

The leader of the group, Reverend Tom Probel Williams, who spoke at a press briefing in Port Harcourt, Wednesday, said the people of Ogoni would resist any hijack of the water rehabilitation contract and any HYPREP contract awards that did not bestow right of first choice on the Ogoni.

He said equity demanded that the indigenous Ogonis should head the Community, Media and Communications Unit of the HYPREP as well as handling of the water projects by qualified Ogoni owned companies, and warned that such project could as well be taken elsewhere if Ogonis would not have 60 per cent participation in them.

Williams said, “The minister, be notified that Ogonis parade the highest crop of top civil servants in Rivers State public service, competent enough to fill all overdue openings needing replacement in HYPREP.

“May we seize this opportunity to inform you that Ogonis have suffered the highest number of oil-spill incidents in the whole of the Niger Delta region with an average of over 1000 spills.

“Ogoni parades the most experienced pool of vendors to deliver world-class remediation as evidenced in the leading companies finishing first and tops in the last two batches of HYPREP contract awards.

“It is only fair to allow 60 per cent Ogoni and 40 per cent non-Ogoni quota system in all contract awards in HYPREP. It is on record that in March 2021, Ogonis woke up to see that the immediate past Minister of Environment, Dr Muhammad Mahmood, had awarded six water contracts worth over N6 billion and only one was given to an Ogoni contractor.

“We’re just hearing that this current Minister of Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, is about awarding 14 contracts without an Ogoni contractor even when we have several over-qualified companies. We will resist any such move vehemently.

“It should be noted that this clean-up project is a product of a very costly struggle that took the lives of over 2000 Ogoni people including Ken Saro-Wiwa. The issue of domestication, local content and capacity building is dear to our hearts and we will pursue and ensure it. Our heroes won’t die in vain.

“OPA has reasons to question the beneficiation index of the water rehabilitation project if the booster stations can’t drive business hubs around the proximity of the project and external economics such as water bottling factories are not factored in to ensure sustainable jobs,” he added.

The group sought sustainability and returns on investment to the people and called for the smooth take-off of the University of Environment, Saakpenwa; the building of Centre of Excellence and the Integrated Waste Management Centre as well as the relocation of HYPREP office to Bori.

It commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the minister on the commitment, tenacity and determination to deliver the mandates of HYPREP beginning from the implementation and kick start of projects to the seamless due process execution.

It expressed appreciation for the boldness and courage in ensuring that another Ogoni son is in charge of HYPREP, promising to ensure synergy and continuum in delivering top-quality performance.

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