The House of Representatives Committee on Environment at the weekend condemned the incessant gas flaring in the country, adding that the effect was adversely affecting the sanity of the environment and also costing the nation’s economy unimaginable loss.
The position of the House was made known by the Chairman, House Committee on Environment, Hon. Uche Ekwunife, when the Committee paid a working visit to the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Port Harcourt as part of its oversight functions.
According to a statement issued by her office, the purpose of the visit was part of a follow-up on the interactive sessions held between it and the management of SPDC on the Ogoni clean-up and Bonga Oil spill which occurred in December 2011.
Ekwunife said gas flaring had caused the nation huge economic loss in recent time, stressing that the House, by way of legislation, would put a stop to the constant gas flaring in the region by increasing penalty for companies involved in gas flaring.
The statement quoted the lawmaker as saying: “Gas flaring is killing our environment and it constitutes a major source of economic leakage.
“For an environment like ours that we are trying so hard to preserve, this kind of practice is not in our best interest at all. I want to make it clear that the collective interest of the nation must be put above and beyond the interest of any individual or organisation. We would do everything possible to ensure that these activities are minimised and we shall do this by increasing penalties for companies that do not desist from this act.”
Also, the Managing Director and Country Representative of SPDC, Mr. Motiu Sunmonu, commended the committee, adding that the company was willing to partner the committee with a view to finding lasting solutions to the oil spill challenges in the area.
Sunmonu alleged that most of the communities adversely affected by the Bonga oil spill were as a result of third party sabotage or theft, which was not only costing the country great loss in revenue but also impacting negatively on the environment.
He further disclosed that SPDC was embarking on the provision of emergency measures of water, health facilities and other community development measures to alleviate the plights of the people living in the affected areas, maintaining that SPDC had started implementing the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report on Ogoni land.
Earlier, at the Rivers State Government House, the committee commended the effort of the state governor, Rotimi Amaechi, in ensuring a healthy environment, adding that although the state was the most impacted area in terms of water and soil degradation, the effort of the state government had helped to minimise the negative impact.
During the meeting, according to the statement, Amaechi urged Nigerians to look forward to the time when all those involved in environmental degradation would be prosecuted without fear or favour.