Ogoni Cleanup: HYPREP Moves To Address Community Conflict, Train Chiefs On ADR

The Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) has announced plans to train all traditional rulers and chiefs of the Ogoni ethnic nationality in Rivers State in dispute management and peacebuilding by building their capacities in Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms.

The move, according to the Project Coordination Office(PCO) of HYPREP, is aimed at addressing the community disputes that have been hindering the implementation of the project.

As the body responsible for the cleanup of the Ogoni environment, HYPREP has also commenced the assessment of complex sites in the ongoing remediation work in Ogoni. 

Speaking during a Project Review Meeting with Ogoni Key Stakeholders, organised by the Federal Ministry of Environment through HYPREP Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Prof. Nenibarini Zabbey said assessment is a crucial step towards ensuring the effective restoration of the environment and improving the quality of life for the Ogoni people.

Zabbey said the meeting was to review and discuss the success of the project, as well, get feedbacks from the leaders of Ogoni, noting that the reports were necessary for the success of HYPREP in the cleanup project.

The PC noted that recently, HYPREP has made notable strides in various aspects of the project implementation process, noting that land and shoreline remediation project is ongoing, and preliminary assessment of the complex sites has commenced. 

He mentioned that mangrove restoration projects were successfully going on, adding that HYPREP is going beyond projects to embarking on human capacity building.

Zabbey said: “The pilot mangrove restoration of over 500 ha of oil-degraded mangroves is going well. Last week, we launched three reports to provide technical guidance for sustainable mangrove restoration and conservation in Nigeria.  

“HYPREP’s efforts extend beyond physical infrastructure. We undertake strategic capacity building and community engagement. We recently conducted a successful procurement and business strategy workshop, the Career and Employability Workshop, to enhance entrepreneurial skills. Over 7,000 Ogoni youths and women are employed in the various projects.”

He regretted that community disputes is still affecting the smooth implementation of the cleanup, adding that stakeholders and communities now barricade entrances to remediation sites.

Zabbey, however, disclosed, the project would train Ogoni chiefs in Peacebuilding, noting that the move would reduce issues that are affecting the smooth sail of the cleanup.

He noted that actions such as avoidable court cases drain resources, energy, time, and the collective resources that would be better utilized for the cleanup project.

He said, “We must acknowledge that, despite our sustained efforts, several community-related challenges continue to affect the smooth progression of our work. 

“Undue interference in contract administration poses a significant threat to the integrity and efficiency of our operations. Additionally, unresolved inter- and intra-communal land disputes have proven to be a substantial obstacle. These conflicts delay our work.

“As part of our peacebuilding effort, HYPREP will train traditional rulers and other key stakeholders on Alternative Dispute Resolution and peacebuilding techniques in the next few weeks to increase their capacity to deal with emerging issues at the community level in a way that aligns with the project’s objectives.”

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