A report by the All Progressives Congress (APC) asking the Muhammadu Buhari administration to discard the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is not only unfortunate but it is one that will also embolden oil multinationals to continue their impunity which has polluted the Niger Delta and eroded Nigeria’s revenues, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has warned.
APC had, in the report on Bloomberg which was confirmed by its Policy Director, Dr Kayode Fayemi said the President should discard the PIB and replace it with a new reform bill that is based on discussions with international oil companies to “ensure all perspectives are adequately considered”.
Mr Philip Jakpor, Head, Media & Communication, ERA/FoEN, in a statement in Lagos, however, described the call as “very disturbing” in light of the support the PIB has garnered in the last four years from civil society groups and Niger Delta communities that have suffered from environmental degradation and neglect.
Dr Godwin Ojo, ERA/FoEN Executive Director, in the statement said: “We are perplexed at this call coming at a time that Nigerians are demanding environmental accountability and a say in how oil multinationals operate in the environment.”
Ojo noted that while APC made some positive recommendations which included a review of audits and corruption allegations against the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), however, “calling on the government to discard the PIB will amount to government lacking the political will to hold oil multinationals accountable for their human rights violations, environmental degradation and the application of the polluter pays principle.
“The APC government should not set a bad precedent by disappointing the expectations of the Niger Delta people who remain shell-shocked by the rigmarole of the immediate-past administration of Goodluck Jonathan in pushing a strong legislation through. That government also failed to implement the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Assessment on Ogoniland. We believe that a strong PIB will promote the interest of local communities and the protection and preservation of the Nigerian environment.”
The ERA/FoEN boss recommended that “the Buhari administration must sieve the recommendations and show good example by listening to the voice of the people which is overwhelmingly in support of a strong PIB.
“It is now time to stop paying lipservice to environmental sustainability and hold those who violate the environment of the Niger Delta accountable. Nothing short of the peoples demand for a strong PIB is acceptable,” Ojo insisted.