From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
A collection of media representatives and civil society organisations have insisted that for the Niger Delta region to experience an improved environment from oil spill, there should be a quick passage of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) Amendment Bill with President Muhammadu Buhari assenting to it.
Recalled that the Facility for Oil Sector Transformation (FOSTER), an oil sector reform program, had recently organised a virtual media engagement session on the NOSDRA Amendment Bill for improved understanding and advocacy of the Bill.
The programme followed a recent engagements with relevant committees of the National Assembly and their renewed commitment to pass the bill.
However, the webinar provided detailed insight into all interventions carried out so far in pushing for the passage of the Bill.
Speaking on a topic “The NOSDRA Act Amendment Bill 2020: Galvanizing stakeholders Towards Passage and Assent”, Dr Kabari Sam, noted that one of the importance of the NOSDRA Amendment Bill is that the newly discovered oil producing communities will not experience the Niger Delta ordeal.
He said the content of the Bill is a proactive approach to environmental management, adding that it will enable a prompt response to oil spills incidents and protect livelihood structure in oil producing and surrounding communities.
Dr Kabari recalled that “the NOSDRA Amendment Bill was passed by the 8th NASS but the President declined assent with reasons.
“The reasons were primarily because of perceived reduced powers of the petroleum minister and extra economic burden on the oil sector”.
He added that the bill is back to “Rules and Business Committee” of the NASS.
Speaking further, the environmentalist stressed that “as a nation completely dependent on oil and gas, we need an environmental regulator in the sector”.
He insisted that the NOSDRA Amendment Bill will empower NOSDRA to respond to all manners of spills within Nigeria, adding that “we had to empower NOSDRA now, or live with pollution even after oil”.
Also speaking on the zoom meeting monitored by our correspondent, Dr Zibima said the bill have come a long way and need to be given attention for better environment.
Earlier during introduction of programme, Rev Fr. Edward Obi, National Coordinator, The National Coalition on Gas flaring and oil spills in the Niger Delta, noted that NOSDRA was established in 2006, to create, nurture and sustain a zero tolerance oil spill incident in the Nigerian environment.
Participants at the workshop shared engagement plans towards increasing public awareness and demand for the effectual passage of the Bill.