The Federal Government on Monday says it is set to institute an environmental task force on oil pollution, and vowed to hold International Oil Companies (IOCs) accountable for massive pollution of environment.
The Minister of Environment, Mr Mohammed Abdullahi, said this at the 12th National Regulatory Dialogue on Implementation of National Environmental Regulations, organised by the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), in Abuja
Abdullahi said that the essence of the dialogue was to address certain gaps and produce a sufficient regulatory framework that would deal with emerging and ongoing environmental challenges.
“The federal government is conscious of the state of environmental degradation in the country and is making strong effort in addressing the situation.
“The federal government is also making efforts toward effective management, conservation and protection of the biological resources in our environment for sustainable development.
“Accordingly, the federal government will henceforth hold the international oil companies accountable for the massive pollution of our environment and its ecosystem.
“Government is set to institute an environmental task force, especially on oil pollution, and will monitor, track, evaluate and sanction these erring companies and their local collaborators.
According to the minister, “pollution follows the frangrant abuse of our coastlines, mangroves, natural habitats in the guise of prospecting or exploiting of our biodiversity resources.
“Government will apply the principles of the polluters pays’ to help in remediation efforts of polluted communities,” he said.
Abdullahi said that the Federal Government has put in place institutional framework and regulation to ensure effective environmental protection and implementation of national policy on environment.
He said that the NESREA has developed 35 national environmental regulations across difference sectors of economy.
He said the 35 regulations have been gazetted and are being implemented across the country.
He said that the agency had reviewed eight regulations to bridge the identified gaps.
“These regulations are not designed to stifle economic and industrial development but are put in place to safeguard human and sustainable use of the environmental resources.
“I, therefore, call on everyone, most especially the IOCs and industry operators, to carefully study these regulations and comply as government will not hesitate to sanction defaulters.
“As we strive to evolve and adopt different approaches and strategies in solving our environmental challenges, I wish to plead with us to work together to review these regulations.
“The effort will enable us protect our environment for future generation,” he said.
The minister expressed worry over unprecedented environmental challenges, especially pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss.
He said that the loss of global forests is at an alarming rate of 350,000 to 400,000 hectares per year.
He, however, urged stakeholders to advocate strongly on the national regulations as much as possible, adding that compliance starts with awareness and sensitisation.
The Director-General of NESREA, Prof. Aliyu Jauro, said that the dialogue is an annual programme to delineate responsibilities, share experiences and fashion out best practices to support the promotion of effective environmental compliance monitoring and enforcement in the country.
He said that the government has put in place environmental monitoring tools such as the regulation, standards and guidelines to guide the regulated community and other citizens.
He called on relevant stakeholders to comply with the regulations and policies, adding that the regulations will be constantly reviewed to respond to emerging environmental challenges.