The House of Representatives has commenced investigations to unearth factors preventing clean-up of oil spills in the Niger Delta region in the past five years.
The investigation which started on Tuesday in Abuja is being conducted by an ad hoc committee of the house chaired by Rep. Aminu Turkur (APC-Katsina)
Gbajabimila said that the Niger Delta region had long fed the nation’s coffers and paid the price in environmental devastation at a scale rarely seen anywhere in the world.
He said years of fossil fuel exploration coupled with acts of organised sabotage against oil and gas installations, have left large swathes of the Delta unsuitable to most economic pursuits.
According to him, farming and fishing activities that have long provided sustenance to the communities in the region have disappeared for the most part.
In addition, Gbajabimila said that there is evidence that environmental degradation had continued to have a devastating effect on the health of citizens in the Niger Delta.
“No plan to fix the problems of the Niger Delta can succeed until we have first addressed the damage done by years of oil spills in the region.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria has committed to solving this problem; however, we have not begun to see action equal to the resources allocated or the high expectations we rightly hold.
“This is not acceptable as long as millions of our people continue to live in an environment that threatens their wellbeing, that takes away their ability to live full lives and deprives them of their God-given right to reap of the land and the waters,” he said.
The speaker said that the house will do whatever required in the shortest possible time ensure that restoration is achieved in the Niger Delta.
He encouraged all the stakeholders to support the committee’s efforts to find a solution that works and right the wrongs that have lingered too long.
Gbajabimila thanked the chairman of the committee and member for answering the call of duty.
Earlier, Turkur recalled that the house on Tuesday March 10, 2020 deliberated a motion on the need to investigate the “clean-up of oil-spill in the oil-producing states in the last five years.”
He said that the house resolved to set up an an-hoc to investigate the matte and the the activities of National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA)
The chairman said that the committee is to assess compliance with the Environmental Guidelines and Standards for the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria (EGASPIN).
Turkur, however said that due to the COVID-l9 lockdown, the committee was constrained to wait for the easing of the lockdown before fully engaging stakeholders.
The rep said that the current drifting global oil prices, the failure to clean-up impacted sites is creating palpable tension across the communities which may indirectly impact on national oil production.
“It goes without saying, that an increase in oil revenue to the nation is contingent on the peace and harmony that reigns in the oil producing communities.
“It is our ﬁrm belief that at the end of this exercise, this ad hoc committee will come up with recommendations that will further strengthen the existing institutional frameworks, and ultimately bring succor to the people of the Niger Delta region.
By EricJames Ochigbo