Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke
By Chika Amanze-Nwachuku
Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has blamed decades-long hydrocarbon pollution in Nigeria on failure of International Oil Companies (IOCs) to adhere to global environmental standard and Nigeria’s environmental laws and regulations.
She also revealed that an interim report of a special review committee on the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report on oil pollution in Ogoniland had been submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Speaking on "The Strategic Importance of Nigeria's Oil and Gas Industry to Global Security and World Global Economy" at the Howard University in Washington D.C., United States of America, at the weekend, Alison-Madueke accused successive administrations of failing to ensure strict compliance with Nigerian environmental laws and policies.
The minister, an alumnus of the university and one of the recipients of the Howard University, College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Science Centennial Awards, said the issue of Ogoniland and environmental pollution as a whole are of great concern to the present administration, adding that government had put in place stronger policies and punitive measures to stem environmental degradation.
She said: “I must say that multinational oil companies are not adhering to the global standard towards certain aspects of our environmental interest. At the same time the government itself did not as well ensure that its standards and policies in terms of our environment were implemented to the latter, but this has been changing for quite some time. The world is now very vocal in terms of global standards particularly as it concerns the environment; hence, I have harped very strongly on issues of carbon emissions and gas flaring.”
We have put in place even stronger policies, stronger punitive measures and we are beginning to implement those punitive measures much much more aggressively as we have never done before.”
She noted that issue of environmental pollution is very topical in Nigeria and world over, adding that government would not rest on its oars until it is completely addressed.
She said the UNEP report would be further evaluated with a view to ascertaining areas that could be adopted. The committee was set up by the president last August to undertake a holistic review of the report, which indicted Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) of decades of oil pollution in surface water all over the creeks of Ogoniland and make recommendations to the Federal Government on immediate and long term remedial actions.
UNEP stated in the report released in August 2011 that Ogoni would need the world's largest ever oil clean-up, which could take up to 30 years to complete.