Rights Group Urges FG Not To Discard Petroleum Bill

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By Abiose Adelaja

The Environmental Rights Action, ERA, has urged the Muhammadu Buhari administration not to discard the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, as that would only embolden oil multinationals to continue to operate with impunity in the country.

The All Progressive Congress, APC, had in a report in Bloomberg, which was confirmed by its Policy Director, Kayode Fayemi, said the President should discard the PIB and replace it with a new reform bill that is based on discussions with international oil companies to “ensure all perspectives are adequately considered”.

But ERA, in a statement issued in Lagos, described the call as “very disturbing” in light of the support the PIB has garnered in the last four years from civil society groups and Niger Delta communities that have suffered degradation and neglect.

ERA executive director, Godwin Ojo said: “We are perplexed at this call coming at a time that Nigerians are demanding environmental accountability and a say on how oil multinationals operate in the environment”.

Ojo noted that while the APC made some positive recommendations which included a review of audits and corruption allegations against the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, he added that calling on the government to discard the PIB “will amount to government lacking the political will to hold oil multinationals accountable for their human rights violations, environmental degradation and the application of the polluter pays principle.”






     

     

    He said that the APC government “should not set a bad precedent by disappointing the expectations of the Niger Delta people who remain shell-shocked by the rigmarole of the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan in pushing a strong legislation through.”

    “That government also failed to implement the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Assessment on Ogoniland. We believe that a strong PIB will promote the interest of local communities and the protection and preservation of the Nigerian environment,” Ojo observed.

    The ERA boss recommended that “the Buhari administration must sieve the recommendations and show good example by listening to the voice of the people which is overwhelmingly in support of a strong PIB”.

    “It is now time to stop paying lip service to environmental sustainability and hold those who violate the environment of the Niger Delta accountable. Nothing short of the peoples demand for a strong PIB is acceptable”, Ojo insisted.

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