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More gas on flaring

We will make a fair commitment on ending gas flaring in the next few days before the international community, and we will deliver this time around. Climate change is a wake-up call. We will do what we were supposed to have done. Climate change dynamics offer tremendous opportunities in that direction.  —  Chief Ojo Maduekwe, Minister of Foreign Affairs, representing President Yar’Adua at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Denmark.  

SENATE President, David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark last December accused the Federal Government of lacking the will to end gas flaring. Mark was opening a two-day Senate public hearing on gas flaring which, according to him, had continued because of government’s inability to stop the oil companies that violated the laws since penalties were low.

Gas flaring was to end on December 2008, one of numerous proposed dates that were never implemented.
“I think the government has never been able to develop a strong will to ensure the implementation of these basic policies and the result, of course, is like any other law, the operators take the easiest line of resistance, which is to maybe pay N2, or 1 Kobo or whatever and flaring many cubic feet of gas … Whatever it is, it is cheaper for the companies or the operators to flare gas and pay the penalty than to stop,” he said last year.

Mark made similar remarks in February 2008 during an oil seminar marking 50 years of Nigeria’s crude oil export. Mark’s weighty statement in other circumstances could have been an admission of guilt, or a testimonial of government’s sustained failures. Unfortunately, he has been proven right again.

In Copenhagen, Chief  Maduekwe mouthed the same empty words that have been standard approach to the matter. Was Mark in comprehensive condemnation of government policies on gas flaring unaware the Senate shares a responsibility in gas flaring? How many laws has the Senate passed to stop gas flaring? Mark is in his 10th year as Senator.

Chief Maduekwe is typical of Nigerian authorities who talk too much and do very little. At many seminars, it has been stressed that the flared gas could be used in generating electricity. How have we fared with that?

For years, our infrastructure has remained parlous and decays further by the day. Whose lack of will results in our unrepaired roads becoming death traps? Our bridges are falling, and we gleefully announce that their technical details are missing. Is there a will to install radar at our airports, resuscitate the railways, or provide drinking water for Nigerians?

The Senate promised to end gas flaring by last December 31. Did that happen?

Chief Maduekwe should be held to his words. The Peoples Democracy Party, PDP, whose Secretary General, he once was,  has made every effort to strangulate Nigeria in the past 10 years.

After Copenhagen, maybe the change would commence, as Chief Maduekwe has promised.


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