Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Centre for Peace and Environmental Justice has accused the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and Multi-National oil companies of using the oil producing communities for ‘zero-sum game’ to their mutual benefit, as the communities continue to suffer from environmental degradation and pollution.
The group wondered why NOSDRA whose major work is to identify high risk areas, as well as priority areas of protection and clean up and ensure a programme of activation, training and drill exercise to ensure readiness to oil pollution preparedness would be operating from Abuja instead of the Niger Delta region.
The National Coordinator of the group, Comrade Sheriff Mulade disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja, where he stated categorically that the agency has failed in her responsibility in discharging her mandates.
According to him, “It is on paper that NOSDRA has the responsibility for; Preparedness, detection and response to oil spillage in Nigeria. However, with happenings in the past and lately, you will agree with me that NOSDRA is too far from discharging these mandates and have failed to protect the Nigerian Marine Environment. NOSDRA is only an agency on paper, not proactive and have failed woefully to monitor and manage spills anywhere in Niger Delta.”
Mulade explained that the Zonal Directors and officers who are in the oil producing states have limited powers and often resort to the headquarters at Abuja at great bureaucratic risks and encumbrances.
He stated: “We equally observed that the multinationals have become complacent, careless and heartless in their handling of oil spills, pollution or the degradation of the environment as they easily lobby NOSDRA officials in Abuja who have become willing tools to the continuous degradation of the environment in the Niger Delta.
“It is a fact that NOSDRA depends on logistics from the multi-national oil companies for Joint Investigation Visits to spill which increases and encourages third party interference. Therefore, both NOSDRA and the multi-national oil companies lose while the oil companies become egoistic.
“Communities rarely find or get justice when their rights are infringed upon whereas environmental rights abusers and offenders are never punished,” Mulade lamented.
To this end, the group demanded the urgent relocation of the NOSDRA headquarters from Abuja to any of the oil bearing states in the Niger Delta, stressing that the agency should be closer to the people as communities cannot go to Abuja to seek palliatives especially, to seek for justice when their rights are trampled upon.