Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Nigeria Limited has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment towards the setting up of governance structures that are critical to the comprehensive implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Report.
Mr. Igo Weli, General Manager, External Relations, SPDC, who briefed the media, weekend, on the status of the implementation of the Report, stressed that government was now playing its leadership role in the efforts to ensure full implementation of the Report.
He pointed out that successful implementation of the Report would depend on co-ordinated, collaborative action by all stakeholders – government, the oil and gas industry and the affected communities – noting, however, that for the clean-up of the polluted environment to be sustained, an end must be put “to the widespread pipeline sabotage, crude oil theft and illegal refining that are the main causes of environmental damage,” not only in Ogoniland but across the Niger Delta region.
According to him, the UNEP Report, which was published in August 2011 has 50 recommended actions directed at the Federal Government, 22 directed at SPDC and 4 directed at the communities, pointing out that if all the other parties carried out the actions directed at them and the host communities failed to carry out their own recommended actions, the challenge of environmental pollution would persist, and used the forum to appeal to the communities to stop illegal refining, pipeline sabotage and crude oil theft.
Weli said that to get to the root of the problem, there was need to stop the source of the contamination, address the high rate of youth unemployment and poverty as well as address the issue of insecurity in the area, stressing also that denial of access for remediation work, land disputes among the communities, leadership tussles and factions among the leadership of the communities were equally serious challenges.
He said that overall, significant progress had been recorded in the implementation of the Report, pointing out, for instance, that out of the 22 actions directed at SPDC as the Joint Venture operator, 16 had been completed, five actions are currently ongoing while one, SPDC’s contribution to the $1billion Ogoni Restoration Fund was pending the setting up of the Governing Council of the structure to be put in place by the Federal Government for the administration of the fund. He said that an Ogoni Restoration Project team, being coordinated by Prof. Philip Shekwolo, had been set up specifically to tackle the implementation of the actions directed at SPDC.
He confirmed that government is showing serious commitment to the implementation of the recommendations and that SPDC was ready and willing to play its part completely, and appealed that the host communities must also commit themselves to implementation of their own recommended actions so that the process could be sustainable. Weli stressed that “ we are greatly encouraged by the positive and constructive response from representatives of the community, Niger Delta NGOs and civil society,” insisting, however, that all efforts must be targeted at ensuring ‘long-term sustainability’ of the clean-up exercise.
He regretted, however, that the media was not directly factored in as a key stakeholder in the UNEP Report implementation process, stress that the media was needed for transparency and stakeholder confidence, pointing out that this would be redressed.
SPDC External Relations and Communications Manager, Sola Abulu, who also addressed the gathering stressed that it was important to disabuse the minds of the people that the $1 billion Ogoni Restoration Fund, was meant to be shared out to the people of the area, pointing out it is, indeed, to be provided “ for the restoration of the environment.”
Other officers of SPDC at the forum were Prof. Philip Shekwolo, Mr.Tunde Adams, Mr. Precious Okolobo, Mr. Gbenga Odugbesan and Mr. Tony Ogedengbe.