The Project Co-ordinator for the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, overseeing the clean-up of the Ogoni environment, Dr. Marvin Dekil, was not arrested or detained by any Nigerian security agency, as of the close of business yesterday(Thursdsy), The Neighbourhood can authoritatively report.
However, the newspaper can equally report that the man is on his way out as the Project’s Co-ordinator with The Presidency ready with an interim replacement. A highly placed source conversant with the matter confirmed that Prof. Philip Shokwolo would step in as Ag. Project Co-ordinator for a period of four months to complete the tenure of the outgoing Project Co-ordinator. Then, another Ogoni would be appointed into the position.
According to top government sources who volunteered some information on Thursday night to The Neighbourhood, there is a consensus of opinion in the leadership of Ogoni that Dekil had performed “abysmally below average” since he was appointed into that office in 2017.
One Ogoni leader, who spoke to this newspaper on the matter, accused the Project Co-ordinator of failure to carry out the demands of his job. He said Ogoni people were surprised to know only recently that HYPREP had over $300million in its Bank Account meant for the remediation work yet the basic needs for the area captured in the Clean-Up emergency provisions were not provided. The source, whom this newspaper can confirm played a major role in the emergence of Dr. Dekil, decried a situation were he failed to provide drinking water to Ogoni communities but chose to lodge the “incredibly huge amount of money in the bank account.”
Our source vowed that nothing would keep Dr. Dekil anymore in that position(as HYPREP Project Co-ordinator). “He has to go so he can explain to us what happened. He failed us. We thought he was going to perform better than Prof. Barineme Fakae who sought to have that office.” He gave the reason they preferred Dekil above Fakae who had the backing of a former Governor of Rivers State. “We felt that since Fakae had been a Rector (of Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori) and later, Vice Chancellor, (then Rivers State University of Science and Technology) he already had a lot of load. Our thought was that Dekil, being a greenhorn, would move fast with the Ogoni Clean-Up, but here we are today talking of his woeful failure. We are disappointed. So, it is better he leaves so he can explain why he was unable to provide even water for his own people.”
The news of Dekil’s pending sack had flooded the news space on Thursday afternoon with the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, issuing a statement signed by Bari-ara Kpalap, a factional Secretary-General, warning against what they said was a rumour that Prof. Shokwolo had been pencilled down to take over as Acting Project Coordinator of the agency. “We are aware of desperate and intensive moves by the commission’s departmental heads especially Professor Shokwolo supported by some powerful internal and external officials in the lobby to replace the current Project Coordinator (PC), Dr. Marvin Dekil”, the pan-Ogoni socio-political organisation noted.
MOSOP, which expressed delight that Dekil was to proceed on compulsory retirement, however said it would resist the latest, rumoured report to bring on board Prof. Shokwolo. The body said its happiness that the Project Co-ordinator was on his way out hinged on his “indefensible inadequacies occasioning growing concern” even as they described him as an “obvious liability.” But MOSOP stressed that “However, we insist that Professor Shokwolo is unqualified for the position in view of his glaring conflict of interest and notorious atrocities committed against Ogoni and its environment. He has been responsible for what has been generally acknowledged as cover-up rather than clean-up or remediationin Ogoni.”
The Ogoni group continued: “Professor Philip Shokwolo was a staff of Shell and team lead for all clean-up and remediation programmes of the oil mogul for over 15 years. He supervised all clean-up or remediation projects of Shell during the period. He also certified the sites with the connivance of NOSDRA as being properly cleaned up or remediated.
“But during the UNEP environmental assessment of Ogoniland, it found the sites Prof. Shokwolo had certified to have been properly cleaned up or remediated to be heavily polluted and recommended for remediation. Today, HYPREP is remediating the same sites he has approved as properly cleaned up or remediated. Today, Professor Philip Shokwolo as head of the technical/operations organ of the Project Coordination Office (PCO) of HYPREP, supervises the Ogoni clean-up exercise. And the question mark on the project is linked albeit regrettably to Prof. Shokwolo. Thus, allowing him achieve a higher elevation in HYPREP would jeopardize efforts at finding enduring remedy to the saddening state of the Ogoni clean-up project.
“In fact the case of the site known and called Shell well 2 in Kegbara Dere in Gokana Local Government Area has been very obvious. Professor Shokwolo had supported DEXCOM Solutions Limited owned by his longtime friend and current project coordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Marvin Dekil and the firm was contracted by Shell to clean-up/remediate its impacted sites including the said well 2 in 2006 or thereabout. The company executed the contract and was supervised by Prof. Shokwolo and even if DEXCOM Solutions Limited did substandard job that could not pass an elementary test, Prof. Shokwolo certified the site to have been properly cleaned up or remediated by the company.
“However, during UNEP’s assessment of the Ogoni environment, it found the site to be heavily polluted and recommended it for remediation. Today, HYPREP has contracted Centennial Development and Investment Limited and Navante Oil and Gas Company Limited to remediate the same site, well 2, hosting lots 13 and 14 respectively. And Prof. Shokwolo is the one supervising the exercise at the said lots.
“Coming at a time when Ogoni and her friends around the world are still mourning and remembering our fallen heroes murdered by the Nigerian state some 25 years ago for campaigning for social and environmental justice for the Ogoni and other minorities, we consider the Prof. Shokwolo’s matter as not only insensitive and provocative but also smack of desperation by his sponsors, Shell and other enemies of Ogoni to seize control of the Project in an attempt to undermine the global tilt for environmental justice for the Ogoni. And for Abuja’s trumpeted overhaul of HYPREP to reposition the Ogoni clean-up exercise to make meaning, Prof. Philip Shokwolo has to be stopped. We maintain that allowing him to be the acting project coordinator will do more harm to the project than good.
“As a product of the Ogoni struggle, and after over 4 years in existence, Ogoni had expected HYPREP to use the occasion of the 25th remembrance of Ogoni martyrs to release reports of achievements rather than insult our sensibilities with the provocative reports about Prof. Philip Shokwolo’s pursuits.
“We vehemently reject both of them.
The Neighbourhood was unable to connect with Dr. Dekil as of the time of this report as also none of his media aides was reachable.
According to the HYPREP website, hyprep.gov.ng, Dekil is “seasoned environmental professional with strong technical expertise and project management experience in contaminated land remediation, assessment and restoration.
He is also described as Team Leader/Technical Assistant, United Nations Environment Program – UNEP; Head, Environmental/Coastal and Shoreline Restoration unit HYPREP responsible for the managing the remediation of impacted sites.
He is the Managing Director, Dexcom Solution Ltd; Directly Coordinated several projects in Environmental Assessment, Remediation and Certification Monitoring across Ogoniland and Niger Delta region.
In-depth Knowledge of Environmental Law including Application and Interpretation of National and International Guidelines and Standard for Oil Spill Remediation.
Strategic Project Management Experience with Involving Numerous Environmental Assessments, Air Quality Monitoring and Oil Spill Remediation Projects including Management of Laboratory Procedures and Sample Analysis.
Strong Stakeholder and Community Engagement and Sensitisation Skill. Coordinated and Participated in Various Community Consultation and Sensitisation for UNEP Ogoniland Project and HYPREP.
Liaising with other Technical Experts; UNEP, Federal Ministry of Environment, NOSDRA, SPDC and DPR
Government of Nigeria Technical Delegate to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio +20, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 2012.
Member of FGN/UNEP/IOCs/MOSOP Negotiation Team to UNEP Geneva, Switzerland 2014.
He once served as a Project Assistant to a Commissioner for Environment, Rivers State.