Lawmakers Review Oil Spills, FG’s Clean-Up Projects
Nigerian lawmakers have begun investigation into oil spills in the Niger Delta region and the subsequent clean-up projects embarked upon by the Federal Government in the last five years.
The House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on Oil Spill Clean-Ups in the Oil Producing States of Nigeria which began investigative hearing on Tuesday noted that it was a step forward in the chamber’s resolve to set up a panel to investigate the issue of oil spills in the Niger Delta and government’s clean-up programmes so far.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) recently disclosed that it has along with its joint venture partners spent $360 million on cleaning up the Niger Delta oil heartland in the past two years.
Speaking at the commencement of the investigation, the Chairman of the committee, Amiru Tukur, recalled that on March 10, 2020, the House adopted a motion titled ‘Need to Investigate the Clean-Up of Oil Spills in the Oil-Producing States in the Last Five Years.’
According to Tukur, the terms of reference of the committee include to investigate oil spill clean-ups and remediation in the oil producing states.
He further hinted that the committee would also investigate the activities of National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency in the Joint Investigation Visits, and to assess compliance with the Environmental Guidelines and Standards for the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria.
He said, “In the course of this investigation, we will be engaging with the Department of Petroleum Resources, which has the statutory responsibility of supervising the petroleum industry in Nigeria and centrally guaranteeing that the operations do not degrade the environment in the course of their activities.
“The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, whose statutory responsibility is to among other things, coordinate the Joint Investigation Visits and ensure the remediation of impacted sites and monitor oil spill drill exercises and facilities inspection.”
Tukur also disclosed that prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, the committee had sent out invitation letters to relevant stakeholders requesting for data on the number of oil spills recorded by various indigenous and international oil companies.
He said, “Some of the oil companies we wrote to have already responded, but many have still not responded.
“I want to use this opportunity to urge all those oil companies that received our letters to ensure the requested documents are forwarded to the committee.”
Tukur recalled that the House had noted the continued sufferings of the Niger Delta people as a result of over 50 years of oil spills and consequent pollution of the freshwater systems, degradation of water quality and lowering of food web productivity.
The House, according to him, made reference to the Annual Report of the Department of Petroleum Resources, which indicated that 5,669 incidents of oil spills were recorded, with 9,718.22 barrels spilled, and only 800.55 barrels recovered.
According to Tukur, the objective of the investigation is to understand the level of clean-ups in the last ﬁve years and the extent of compliance with the Environmental Guidelines and Standards in the Petroleum Industry.
“It is our ﬁrm belief that at the end of this exercise, this ad hoc committee will come up with recommendations that will further strengthen the existing institutional frameworks and ultimately bring succour to the people of the Niger Delta region,” he stated.
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, while declaring the event open, noted that the Niger Delta region had “long fed the nation’s coffers and paid the price in environmental devastation at a scale rarely seen anywhere in the world.”