Ogoni Clean-up: $180m Cooling-Off in Escrow Account As 21 Contractors Await Mobilisation–FG

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by Friday Obande

Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jubril has debunked insinuations that the federal government has abandoned the Ogoni clean-up exercise in the Niger Delta, stating that $180 million was currently domiciled in a special Escrow account with the Standard Chartered Bank of London.

He said about 21 firms have successfully gone through the bidding process and were currently awaiting mobilization to move to the site, possibly in the next few weeks before the year wraps up.

He said the funds were rallied from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and other joint ventures companies and were being managed by the board of trustees of HYPREP (Hydro-Carbon Pollution Restoration Project).

Jubril stated this after the Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said series of meeting have been going on to finalise the procurement process ahead of the exercise.

“Currently, there is funding for the cleanup. But remember that this is the first time the government has done something. Because of the confidence that the oil companies have in the government, the governance structures that have been put in place, the opening of the Ogoni Trust Fund has been able to mobilize $180million dollars from the oil companies.

“The funds came from the NNPC, SPDC and other ventures. The $180 million is in the Escrow account with the Standard Chartered Bank of London and the Board of Trustee is managing it.

“So, as far as we are concerned, we can beat our chest and say that the Buhari administration has shown the way forward on this clean up exercise and we hope and pray that the people whom we are working for will have cause to laugh and smile very soon,” he stated.

Explaining further, the Minister said procurement processes have reached advanced stage, noting that recently the Ministerial Tenders Board sat to consider the submission of the procurement department of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP and 15 lots were up for grabs.

He said, “On Friday, the governing Council of the Ogoni Trust Fund will meet and ratify this and we hope by the next week, this letters will be out and the contractors will be mobilized to site.

“There are some other five lots. Because we have 21 in this first segment that are beyond the reach of the Ministerial Tender Board and the Governing Council. So, that one will go to the Federal Executive Council, we have already written to BPP for no objection and we hope to get the no objection hopefully by next week.

“So, the next two weeks those five lots will be presented to the Federal Executive Council for approval.

“So I can assure you that we are on course and there is no going back on the Ogoni clean up. This is the first time that the Federal Government has put machinery in place, no government in the last 30, 40 years of oil pollution has done what this government is doing now.

“The President made a promise in 2015, he charged us to actualize that promise, we took up the gauntlet, we put all the governance structures in place, we did the governing council, we did the Board of Trustees, we did the project coordination office and got a project coordinator to put in place. We have advertised in the most transparent way right from the month of March in both national and international.

“Some of them the Economist of London and we have gotten more than 400 companies who expressed interest. We shortlisted after the technical evaluation and got 183 and these the companies that were qualified to bid and pick the financials attached therein and they did that, it has been ongoing for couple of weeks now and it has been concluded and therefore I can confidently tell you that before the end of this month, in the next week’s, there will be 21 companies that will be mobilized to site to start the work”.

Meanwhile, the Federal Executive Council approved a contract sum of N272million for the procurement of 400 assault rifles for the Nigerian Prisons Service.

The approval was sequel to cases of jail break for which the prison authorities have been found helpless owing to lack of ammunition to counter these attacks.

 Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau who disclosed this said, “Council approved a memo for the procurement of arms and ammunition for the armed guards of the prisons. As you know there is need to secure all our prisons particularly where we have inmates that require maximum security.

“If you recalled not too long a go our prison in Minna was attacked from the outside and freed some of the dangerous prisoners. So, the prison has an armed squad. We realize after investigation of that attack that one of the major shortcomings within that prison was lack of adequate arms and ammunition.

“We are procuring 400 pieces of Barita assault rifles with 20,000 rounds. These rounds are peculiar to those weapons at the cost of N272,489,280 with period of delivery of 120 days”

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