An Environmentalist, Mr Iniruo Wills has called on the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to use executive order to declare Dec.31, 2018 as deadline for gas flaring in the Niger Delta region.
Wills said on Sunday in Yenagoa that an executive order was required to put an end to constant shifting of gas flaring deadlines since 1970s.
He said that Osinbajo could as well pronounce Dec. 31, 2018 “the final irreversible deadline” for gas flaring if there are genuine and compelling factors that could make the earlier date unrealisable.
It would be recalled that the last deadline which expired in 2014 was shifted to Dec. 31, 2020 by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
Wills noted that there was an urgent need for a comprehensive action to protect the environment, ecosystems and communities in the Niger Delta region.
He maintained that such action should be devoid of the usual politics by successive administrations and regulatory agencies in the country.
He urged government at all levels to take a holistic action to stop oil pollution, penalise individuals and corporate executives.
Wills further suggested that individual regulatory executives, who have allowed the continual oil pollution to be accepted as normal flaring in Nigeria should be sanctioned.
He urged Osinbajo to direct the Ministers of Environment, Petroleum Resources, Health and Niger Delta Affairs, to immediately initiate the conduct of an independent holistic study.
“The study should be conducted by reputable consortium of experts and technical organisations including UNDP and the WHO to ascertain the cumulative environmental, health and socio-economic impact of oil and gas exploration on host and transit communities.
He urged governors of the affected Niger Delta states to stop paying lip-service to protection of the environment as had been the case.
Wills advised the governors to begin to make the protection of communities’ coastal environment their constitutional duty to the people of the region.
He urged the Federal Government to empower, fund and order the relevant agencies to take quick and sustainable measures to correct the behaviour of the oil and gas-producing and allied corporations.
“The relevant international tribunals and prosecutorial authorities, including the ECOWAS Court and the International Criminal Court, have both legal and compelling moral duty to deal decisively with it,“he said.
He said that the inadequacy of the Nigerian legal system and regulatory framework to check this ecological problem made the situation worse for the people of the region.