By Wake Bakare.
The challenges of managing oil spills globally has been a huge onus on government and the multinational companies to muddle through in recent times . Oil spillage occurs in nearly every oil producing country. Responsible governments world over, in anticipation of these spills, comes up with stringent laws to protect their citizenry first in accordance with the government laid down regulations by abating spill occurrences and activities that undermines lives and sustainability.
Nigeria’s economy is oil dependent with over 75% of its revenue accruing from the downstream
sector. As Africa’s largest oil producer and the fifth largest oil supplier to the United States,
Nigeria exports about 2.5 million barrels of oil a day, almost entirely from the Niger Delta.
Unfortunately this glowing reverence does not translate into economic fruition for better living
conditions for all Nigerians, worse still is the calamitous effect it has on the oil rich Niger Delta
inhabitants whose only sin is the discovery of this goldmine in their territory.
If you have ever lived in the Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, you would feel the devastating effect
of oil spills in its ugliest form. Several of such spills have occurred in no small magnitude. The
burden of this exploitation is too grievous to stomach by this community alone. During a visit
to the riverine community of Odioma in Brassa Local Government area in Bayelsa State, you
will be greeted by children clustered up in their numbers ravaged by different magnitudes
of deformities due to lack of fertile ground to grow food. Their parents, mainly artisans and
predominantly fishermen are left in doubt as to the next call for survival since their marine has
been dealt with unjustly.
This is the tale of a community within the republic still griming on the devastating effect of the
spillage that occurred on Christmas eve in the year 2010. The Bonga oil spills no doubt remains
the worst in 10 years, this single disaster wrecked overwhelming havoc on their aquatic lives
and farmlands; thus raising serious concerns regarding their means of livelihood. The growing
cases of oil spill in the Niger-Delta region have become recurring phenomena. Statistically, a ton
of crude oil is roughly equivalent to 803 gallons or 7.33 barrels approximately; it is estimated
that about 200,000 barrels of oil are spilled or lost to oil theft and vandals daily onshore/
offshore and this does not include the amount absorbed by the crust which eventually forms
layers of tarcete harmful to the community.
In this part of the country oil spillage is seen as part of the oil business. For decades, oil
producing communities in the South-South have been battling with multinational oil companies
and the Federal Government on the need to pre-empt and contain oil spills that had culminated in gross environmental pollution, destruction of sea life’s and waning quality of Agricultural land.
Oil spills respect no boundaries and as such uniform Federal policies and programs are
essential. In addition, since the resources necessary to respond to oil spills are limited and
vary among the response agencies, it is more pertinent than ever to establish and strengthen
cooperative relationships. Interestingly, the amended NOSDRA bill promises to correct a lot
of anomalies if given the right attention and passed into law. Many pundits are favourably
disposed to the new bill as a good step in the right direction. The bill if given the necessary
support will bring a lasting solution to the current oil spillages experienced in many parts of
However, to ensure a safer environment, individually and collectively, we must be conscious
of the possible danger of polluting the environment and its economic consequences. Since it
is arguably cheaper for oil companies to pollute the environment and neglect the community;
to win this battle, remediation exercise needs to be carried out in the affected areas while
deploying the right technology and modern equipments to prevent further spillages, this will go
a long way in treating our environment in the category of our national security.
The good news for all lovers of the environment is that the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP) has recommended a grant of $1 billion to cater for the oil ravaged Ogoni
land and its people’s welfare through the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP).
We can only hope for more of such laudable gestures across all environmental issues.
Wale Bakare is a writer and a social media enthusiast with strong affection for Agriculture, politics and the conservation of the environment. He has published works on numerous online blogs & Magazines. Wale writes for Bailiff Africa from Lagos, Nigeria and can be reached on Twitter at @waleflame and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.