BY DEMOLA AKINYEMI,ILORIN
ILORIN – Chairman, Senate Committee of Environment and Ecology, Senator Bukola Saraki has expressed the urgent need for Nigeria to have a comprehensive law that will operate in line with international best practices to ensure that oil-spill compensations are not arbitrary, but equitable for all affected parties.
The former governor of kwara state made the call in a press statement issued by his Media Assistant on Media and Advocacy, Mr Bamikole Omishore, made available to Vanguard in Ilorin on Thursday.
Saraki made the call while commending the agreement of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria limited SPDC to compensate the Bodo Community in Ogoni land, located in the oil-rich Niger Delta Sub region over two oil spill incidents in the area in 2008.
His words,”As commendable as these recent developments are, it is also crucial to point out the fact that without clear-cut and sustainable policies in place, such compensations might only be one-off occurrences. What Nigeria needs right now to operate in line with international best practices is a comprehensive law that works to ensure that oil-spill compensations are not arbitrary, but equitable for all affected parties.”
Saraki added that,’’The issue of oil spills and compensation for the resident communities would not even be a groundbreaking issue if Nigeria and Nigerians had an executive branch of the Federal Government that saw it as its fundamental duty to fight for the people.’’
‘’ Nigerians both at home and abroad should be absolutely appalled by the fact that the affected communities had to go beyond our borders to seek redress in the courts – despite the fact that we have an executive branch that has the power vested in it by our Constitution to protect and defend the people of Nigeria.’’he stressed.
‘’ We must also ask ourselves: if this executive branch of the Federal Government cannot defend us against issues as simple as oil spill conflicts with multinational organizations, how do we expect it to defend us against more serious issues. He queried
Commending the decision of Shell, Saraki said,’’ Nigerians and the international community should know that oil multinationals like Shell finally taking responsibility for the environmental impacts of their oil mining actions and accidents in Nigeria is a monumental step in the right direction.”
He added that,”Such actions serve as needful precedents that will help ensure that Nigerians do not have to suffer for the activities of foreign corporations in our homeland.’’
It would be recalled that after his assumption of office as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment & Ecology, on the 1st of October, 2012, Senator Saraki led members of the committee on an unscheduled oversight visit to the Niger-Delta region to inspect and assess the impact of oil spills in the area.
After seeing firsthand the level of environmental degradation brought about by the oil spills and how the lives and livelihoods of the Nigerians living in the affected areas were negatively impacted, Senator Saraki and the other members of the committee made a firm commitment that they would do “Everything in their power” to ensure that the oil-spills did not go unpunished, and that those whose subsistence had been affected did not go uncompensated.
Consequently, a series of calls and meetings were held with the leadership of Shell, and commitments were made.
Since then, Senator Saraki and the members of the Senate Committee on Environment & Ecology have continued to work tirelessly to ensure that Shell and other concerned multinationals delivered on their pledges to compensate the victims.