Weak regulatory framework has been blamed for the environmental degradation occasioned by oil spill in the Niger Delta.
This was the view of Bubaraye Dakolo, the Paramount Ruler of Ekpetiama community in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Dakolo expressed this opinion when an environmental rights group, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, paid him an advocacy visit in his palace on Saturday.
The traditional ruler said that international oil companies comply with environmental regulations in their home countries but flout such rules in Nigeria.
He said:“We are all witnesses to recent occurrences in the gulf of Mexico and the steps taken to remediate the environment and compensate the victims but the same companies cannot do the same here because of weak regulation.
“There is apparent laxity in the regulation of the oil sector that transnational companies are exploiting to the detriment of our environment, in their home countries they dare not spill a barrel because they know the implication.
He stated that government needs to strengthen it’s regulations as well as equip the regulatory agencies to enable them play their roles and protect the ecosystem.
Dakolo also condemned the influx of foreign fishing vessels into Nigeria’s territorial waters, irrespective of maritime rules, thereby depriving indigenous fishermen of their means of livelihod.
He said actions like that is a “recipe for crisis because economic deprivation is like genocide (and) the law restrains trawlers to five naughtical miles but they encroach and threaten the fishermen with armed escorts on board.”
Alagoa Morris, Head of Field Operations at ERA/FoEN, told Dakolo that the aim of the visit was to seek the support of the traditional ruler to monitor the environmental impact of oil and gas explorations in Ekpetiama community.
Morris urged the royal father who is also an environmentalist to support the NGO’s advocacy to stop indiscriminate and illegal logging in the Niger Delta as well as notify ERA/FoEN of pollution incidents at oilfields in Ekpettiama.