The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to institute environmental remediation bond to tackle environmental challenges int eh country and to deal with the aftermath of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) divestment from the Niger Delta.
The group said the divestment from the region without reversing the environmental harms caused by oil exploration and extraction in the region in the last six decades will serve as a booster for the companies to move offshore and continue their pollution where the activities cannot be monitored.
According to the non-governmental organization, the last 60years have left the Niger Delta region degraded, with frequent oil spills and gas flaring with grave impacts on man and the environment.
In his speech titled “Still Mixed Messages on the Environmental Front” presented during a press conference on Tuesday in Benin City, Edo state, ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Chima Williams said the oil companies have been engaging in half-truth as their model of divestment is to quit onshore and move further offshore.
“We have said time and again that the oil companies have been engaging in half-truths as their model of divestment is to quit onshore oil fields and move further offshore and away from communities where their exploration fallouts will not be easily noticed. Unfortunately, national companies have been buying off the oilfields left by the oil majors, without clear provisions about who is liable for historical contaminations and related socio-ecological issues.”
Chima lamented that despite the incentives and conducive environment provided by the federal government for business operations for the IOCs, the Nigerian Government does not know the quantity of what is being extracted from their communities, let alone how to quantify the supposed royalties and taxes.
In a similar vein, ERA/FoEN boss said the organization has taken a copious view of the policies and programs of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu since it assumed office on 29 May 2023 and sadly several of such policies introduced have varying degrees of impact on Nigerians and the environment.
He described the announcement by President Tinubu’s on his inaugural speech to remove fuel subsidy as hasty and not well-thought-out
“While we are in full support of fuel subsidy removal, we feel that Mr President’s announcement of the decision in his inaugural address was hasty and obviously not well-thought out. The necessary engagement with critical stakeholders in the Nigerian project including representatives of labour, civil society and community representatives was not carried out prior to this decision. The implication was immediate and has resulted to spiralling inflation, high cost of food and transportation with Nigerians at the grassroots feeling the pinch more.
He condemned the N8,000 palliatives per household to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal has a failed solution and rather the government should focus on putting the refinery to work.
“The subsequent announcement of $500 billion in palliatives which targeted N8,000 (eight thousand naira only) per household was a continuation of the confusion in policy before it was withdrawn in favour of N5 billion for palliatives per state, which has failed to address the real plight of ordinary Nigerians.
“We restate that the solution to the high cost of fuel remains local refining. The rehabilitation of the refineries as promised by the President must be prioritised even as we also demand a probe of the trillions of naira that have gone into turnaround maintenance for the nation’s moribund refineries.