*Environment sector underfunded
By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
Director-General, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Dr. Idris O. Musa, on Friday disclosed that Nigeria witnessed over 1,300 oil spill incidents in various parts of Nigeria in 2018 and 2019.
In an interview with journalists in Abuja, Musa said some foreign nationals are alarmed at the high rate of oil spill in the country.
Over 1,300 oil spill incidents occurred in various parts of Nigeria in 2018 and 2019, latest figures compiled by the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency have revealed.
“In 2018 we had about 600 oil spill incidents and in 2019 we had over 700 oil spill sites across the country.
Musa, a pioneer staff of NOSDRA said the agency is working with other arms of government to curtail the spills and where it has occurred bring remediation.
“When I came in here my first port of call was the office of the the chief of naval staff. And I went there because I want us to have effective collaboration. There is what we call harmonised standard operating procedure, which we have now jointly done.
“We did it with the Navy, DPR, NIMASA, and some other government agencies. We sat together to find solution to how and in what manner we could deal with illegal refining sites and stolen oil.
“You won’t see the type of oil spill that we record in Nigeria in any other part of Africa. In fact, aside from Mexico, you can hardly find such situation anywhere else.
“To the extent that whenever we go for international conferences and we say we record over 700 oil spills in Nigeria, people will start asking how did that happen?
“When you tell them that people go to oil pipelines to install valves to fetch oil like water, they will ask you are these people who fetch the products crazy? This is because the pressure inside the pipe is so huge.
He said NOSDRA was actively monitoring activities of downstream operators to ensure they act within rules and regulations.
“So we need to find a way to see how that could be addressed and what we are doing now is to take inventory all of those. Their activities are akin to the activities of the artisanal refinery sites.
The DG maintained the earlier stand of the agency that dead fishes along the Atlantic Ocean’s coastline indicated high levels of toxicity caused by wastes discharge.
He said the cases were isolated and not as widely seen in some pictures.
He said some non-governmental organisations where exaggerating the situation.
Musa, who had a brief spell at the Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project (HYPREP) said inadequate funding has been the bane of the environment sector, saying that N7billion budget is not enough to tackle the challenges