Calls for Speedy Passage of NOSDRA Amendment Bill
By Michael Peter, The Sight News
Abuja: Over a year since the federal government’s move to implement the 2011 United Nations Environment Program, UNEP, Report with the flag off of the Ogoni clean up exercise, the Center for Leadership Strategy and Development, Center LSD, has based on its findings disclosed that the Ogoni people still drink from the contaminated water.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, Wednesday on “Achieving a Healthy and Sustainable Environment in Niger Delta- The NOSDRA Amendment Bill and HYPREP”, the Programme Director for the Center, Monday Osasah urged the Federal Government to urgently begin the placement of warning signs on polluted sites, to deter residents of the region from consuming contaminated water, as stipulated in the UNEP report.
While commending government on the progress made in terms of policy formulation and implementation of some of the recommendations of the UNEP report, Comrade Osasah identified certain administrative bottlenecks affecting the clean up of the region, calling on the government to do the needful to allow for a smooth process.
He also called for the establishment of the Central Representative Advisory Committee, CRAC, and the Zonal Representative Committee to oversee interface between government and the community, saying that the non set up of the bodies is part of the issues delaying the implementation of the Clean Up process.
“The Center, however, notes certain administrative setbacks which have impeded action by the Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Programme (HYPREP). These setbacks are believed to be a result of alleged red-tapeism between the Federal Ministry of Environment and HYPREP.
“It is the Center’s Position that the bottlenecks be removed to help HYPREP function effectively. This way there will be more progress in the realisation of a clean up, beginning with the nuanced implementation of the emergency measures that will ensure a clean and healthy Ogini land and environs”, he said.
Comrade Osasah also urged the National Assembly to expedite the passage of the NOSDRA Amendment Bill as it will eliminate the clash of interests which has made the body unable to effectively carry out it functions.
He said the provisions, which the amendment bill seeks to introduce, will equip the agency with much needed capacity to sustain progress made in the clean up efforts by HYPREP and curb future oil spills and environmental degradation which he said has decimated Ogini Land and its environs.
The NOSDRA Amendment Bill seeks to empower NOSDRA to statutorily charge adequate fines, introduce criminal offences and penalties in order to ensure strict compliance with existing environmental legislation in the oil and gas sector.
He also called for the separation of regulatory functions from that of revenue collection among relevant government ministries, departments, and agencies as obtained in other advanced countries, to help deter incidents of conflict of interests and instances of corruption.
He noted that to improve environmental governance in the country, it imperative that the Ministry of Environment be charged with the responsibility of oversight of environmental laws and policies which according to him, includes the Environmental Guidelines and Standards for Petroleum Industry in Nigeria, EGASPIN.
“He also recommended that NOSDRA should “build capacity to undertake clean up and remediation of oil spill impacted environments where oil spillers refuse to conduct remediation or clean up two weeks after a spill and be able to recover costs incurred”.
The Director of the Department of Oil Field Assessment of NOSDRA, Bumi Akindele who was at the briefing also stressed the need for the quick passage of the Bill and adequate funding to enable the body effectively carry out its statutory functions.
“As we speak, the agency does not have a chopper to carry out initial response in the case of oil spill. In all the cases of oil spill, we have not been doing things the real way like oil spill response management system that we see outside this country. We are hopeful that with the amendment bill, it will be able to strengthen our hands to function optimally” he said.