Says devastation in Niger Delta
Plans stakeholders meeting with Ogoni communities
As company blames locals for Nembe incident
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja
The Federal Government on Thursday announced plans to institute stiffer punishments for companies involved in oil spillage in the country.
The government also said that the level devastation in the Niger Delta is massive and has planned to meet stakeholders in Ogoni land on the ongoing clean-up exercise to get their own assessmentt on how far government has gone.
The Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, made the disclosure at the weekly ministerial press briefing organized by the Presidential Media Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
She said the ministry is engaging other relevant government agencies to achieve this.
According to her, a bill is being worked out to amend the law establishing the National Oil Spillage Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to build its capacity and give it “the needed teeth to bite.”
She said the operating company of the OML29 in Nembe, Bayelsa state has blamed the most recent oil spillage in the country on sabotage by the locals.
However, she announced that the Santa Barbara spillage has been brought under control after weeks the incident occurred with necessary personnel and equipment deployed to begin recovery and remediation efforts.
Ikeazor stressed the need to put an end to artisanal refineries, which she said had continued to cause pollution in the Niger Delta.
The minister also lamented the high rate of deaths from smoke especially among women in the country, which she noted is the highest in the world.
She said something must be done about the ongoing gas flaring, noting that the country cannot be committed to zero net emission and be flaring gas at the same time.
On the high price of cooking gas which has resulted in the cutting down of trees to cook their food, the Minister said, “I am extremely worried because the rate of cutting down trees has increased.
She said government is working hard and creating alternative for the people in the devastated Niger Delta area in order to move them away from further polluting the environment.