Senate to Investigate Ogoni Clean Up Exercise

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• Urges NCC to protect consumers from extortion
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Senate has directed its Committee on Environment to investigate activities surrounding the implementation of the Ogoni clean up exercise which was launched by the federal government in June 2016 with an initial cost of $1 billion.

The oil spillage exercise clean up was flagged off by the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo with fanfare in Gokana, River States, but 12 months later, there are allegations that work is yet to commence on the project.

The Senate resolution followed a motion sponsored by the Chairman of the Committee on Environment, Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central), to mark the June 5, 2017, World Environment Day with the theme: ‘Connecting People to Nature’ in celebration of nature’s beauty and man’s dependence on nature for his wellbeing.

Tinubu expressed worry at the absence of a clear framework and institutional action to counter climate change and its effects, adding that the environment is being held in trust for unborn generations and should therefore be kept in pristine condition.

The lawmaker noted that there is need for Nigeria to be proactive in addressing environmental issues, such as gully erosion in the South-east, desertification in the North and large scale environmental degradation in the oil rich South south.
“Further worried about the implementation of the Paris agreement in light of the recently announced withdrawal of the United States of America,” she said.

The prayers of the motion which were adopted include the call for government at all levels to create a feasible framework for the realisation of the protection of the environment under the Sustainable Development Goals, and a call for the acceleration of the passage of Erosion Prevention and Control Bill.

Meanwhile, the Senate also called on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to protect consumers from extortion through dropped calls and general poor service delivery by telecommunications services providers.

It also urged the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and other regulatory agencies to carry out effective supervision of telecommunications service providers, to ensure regulatory excellence, operational efficiency and sterling service delivery.

It said these followed a motion condemning the inefficiency of GSM network providers in Nigeria resulting in poor service delivery.

The motion sponsored by Senator Andy Uba (Anambra South) urged the NCC to invoke appropriate provisions of the law and other extant agreements to protect consumers where necessary and to refund them henceforth for disrupted calls caused by network issues.

“And allow them have more control over usage of data bundles as practiced by telecom operators in other countries like Kenya, South Africa, among others,” he said.

Uba noted that while telecommunications providers have continued to expand their network coverage beyond what their existing infrastructure could carry, no adequate provisions are being made to improve service delivery.

“A recent investigation shows that the four major operators namely MTN, Airtel, Etisalat and Globacom could not provide the rate of drop calls on their networks, and they appear not to see reason to compensate their customers for disconnected calls to address their frustrations,” the Senator added.

In another development, the Senate would hold a special session on Friday to mark the second anniversary of the inauguration of the eighth assembly.
The eighth assembly was inaugurated on June 9, 2015.