The Federal Government, on Monday, said that it would henceforth hold international oil companies accountable for the massive environmental pollution across the country.
Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, specifically stated that IOCs operating in Nigeria were flagrantly polluting the country in the guise of exploiting crude oil, stressing that adequate sanctions were being reviewed to stop this.
He spoke at the 2022 National Regulatory Dialogue on the review and implementation of National Environmental Regulations organised by the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency in Abuja.
Abdullahi said, “The Federal Government is conscious of the state of environmental degradation in the country and is making efforts towards the effective management, conservation and protection of the biological resources in our environment for sustainable development.
“Accordingly, the Federal Government will henceforth hold the international oil companies accountable for the massive pollution of our environment and its ecosystems.
“Government is set to institute an Environmental Task Force, especially on oil pollution and will monitor, track, evaluate and sanction these erring IOCs and their local collaborators.”
He added, “The flagrant abuse of our coastlines, mangroves, natural habitats in the guise of prospecting or exploitation of oil resources must be checked to halt the ongoing devastation of our biodiversity resources.
“Government will apply the principles of ‘the polluter pays’ to help in remediation efforts of polluted communities.”
The minister stated that the Federal Government had put in place institutional framework and regulations to ensure effective environmental protection and implementation of the National Policy on the Environment.
He observed that since inception, NESREA had developed 35 national environmental regulations cutting across different sectors of the economy.
“Having operationalised these regulations over the years and in response to emerging trends in the global environment, it has become necessary to review eight regulations in order to bridge the identified gaps,” Abdullahi stated.
He added, “I therefore, call on everyone, most especially the IOCs and industry operators, to carefully study these regulations and comply, as the government will not hesitate to sanction defaulters.”
The Director-General, NESREA, Prof. Aliyu Jauro, explained that the essence of the review was to address certain gaps and produce a sufficient regulatory framework that would deal with emerging and ongoing environmental challenges.
He said the programme would ensure public participation in environmental governance and delineation of roles among regulatory agencies, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of leaving no one behind.
The agency’s boss observed that the environmental problems facing the country were enormous, including water and air pollution, industrial and noise pollution, marine pollution through the discharge of plastic and toxic wastes, biodiversity loss, erosion, flooding, land degradation, deforestation, desertification, climate change, among others.
“From the above scenario, it is clear that the problems of the environment are enormous and complex, therefore, sound institutional and legal frameworks are necessary if they are to be dealt with successfully with the urgency they deserve,” he stated.