- The rising spate of oil spills across the Niger Delta has been a source of worry for the federal government
- Two civil society organisations have kick-started efforts to help the government address the issues
- More importantly are issues pertaining to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
FCT, Abuja - A delegation from Connected Development (CODE) and Oxfam on Wednesday, August 24 paid courtesy visits to the the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, and National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA in Abuja.
The visit by the civil society organisation and international development organisation was to collaborate with the agencies on issues pertaining to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP).
The UNGP gives a framework on how government and businesses are to protect and respect human rights, including mechanisms that are to be put in place to reduce, mitigate and redress business-related violations.
Pantami, Danbatta, Ajiya, interface with stakeholders on exploring digital economic trends in Nigeria
While CODE was led by its Chief Executive Officer, Hamzat Lawal, Oxfam was led by its project coordinator on fiscal accountability for inequality reduction, Henry Ushie.
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Addressing the Director General of NESREA, Prof. Aliyu Jauro, Lawal said his organisation with support from OXFAM has been working on a conflict and fragility project in Niger Delta communities for four years.
According to him, the organisations have also been leading debate around host communities, oil producing companies and also working closely with the government.
While seeking NESREA’s commitment to collaborate regarding the upcoming COP27 in Egypt, and participating in CODE’s Town Hall meetings with government agencies and host communities, he hinted on plans to explore signing a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding between CODE, OXFAM and NESREA.
He said the initiative, if successful, will serve as a lesson to other organizations on how civil society organisations are working with government to improve service delivery and implementation of regulations and best practices across Nigeria.
On his part, Ushie expatiated on Oxfam's partnership with CODE to see how Nigeria’s natural resources can work for the most vulnerable in the environment and to also see how NESREA is involved in all of the conversations around zero emission, energy transition, and COP27.
“The point is that we cannot isolate ourselves from the rest of the world in terms of climate conversation. Environmental issues such as the heat, drought and erosion are here and they are affecting our people, so we can’t close our eyes against it.
“In the Niger Delta where the oil is explored, big companies have not been able to respect global standard which is why we are advocating for the use of the framework of the United Nations Global Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business, to look at those best practices across the world of which Nigeria has actually signed up, and to see how we can respect this international framework in terms of the Respect, Protect and Remedial Protocols.
“Besides the environmental issues of gas flaring and oil spillage there are also the economic implications. Our people depend on the environment to survive such as fishing and farming. This is the conversation we’ve brought to you.”
Addressing the Director General of NOSDRA, Idris Musa, Lawal said CODE and Oxfam are seeking the agency's collaboration to ensure that there are less oil spills and gas flares in those communities where oil and gas operations are carried out.
He also said the visit sought to get first-hand information if NOSDRA is making an effort to ensure that it has all of the amenities and resources to be able to combat gas flaring and oil spillage at that level.
He added that as civil society leaders, it was important to explore ways to collaborate with government because governments served the people and civil society organisations served the interests of the people.
On his part, Ushie said:
“We are advocating for communities and countries to be environmentally conscious in terms of climate change, adaptation, climate change, resilience and all of that.
“We want to see how agencies like NOSDRA and NESREA are making concrete efforts in terms of policy and practice to ensure that we get to that point where we are able to say yes, we are net zero because this goes beyond political commitment.”
Nigerian govt chasing shadows on crude oil theft, says Siasia
Meanwhile, a Niger Delta youth leader, Moses Siasia, has said the federal government is chasing shadows in its quest to tackle the scourge of crude oil theft in the region.
Siasia lamented that governors in the region have neglected governance and are instead focusing on building public infrastructure, which may not necessarily impact the lives of the teeming youths of the Niger Delta.
This, he said, may make it difficult for oil theft to end in the region.
Young Niger Delta leaders lament over culture of mediocrity in oil-rich region
Recall that young leaders in the oil-rich Niger Delta recently pushed for strategic regional engagement and affirmative leadership, as a panacea for development in the region.
According to them, the initiative is a means to make up for the huge capital being invested in the region.
The young leaders also advocated that the region set aside its culture of mediocrity and faulty leadership process at all levels of government.