Defaulters of Nigeria’s Gas flaring laws are now going to pay for their environmental sins in the vastly polluted oil and gas region of the country. The Red Chamber of the country’s bicameral Legislature has mandated its Committee on Gas to immediately review and recommend upwards penalty for the polluters.
This is coming as the Senate also urged the newly established Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking-in-Persons (NAPTIP) and other relevant government agencies to intensify surveillance towards curbing modern slavery.
The senate mandated its Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Ministry of Health, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to set-up a joint technical team to promote inter-agency cooperation for effective intelligence sharing.
The upper house also directed the Ministry of Health to, as a matter of urgency, provide relief materials to the recent victims of trafficking and modern slavery.
These were part of four resolutions reached by senators sequel to the consideration of a motion sponsored by Senator Uba Sani (APC, Kaduna Central).
Uba noted that in 2019 alone, over 300 persons, including 77 children, were discovered by the police in chains in Rigasa, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State on Thursday, September 26.
According to him, another 147 persons, most of whom were children and young adults were rescued from an illegal religious rehabilitation centre in Rigasa, on Saturday, October 19, 2019.
The lawmaker stated that the National Bureau of Statistical Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey records show that forty-three percent of Nigerian children between the ages of 5 and 17 years are engaged in child or forced labour.
Quoting the Global Slavery Index (GSI) 2018, the senator said that the population of people in slavery in Nigeria was 1,384,000, a number which is more that the total number of all the other 16 West African countries.
The upper chamber reached the resolution after consideration of a motion titled: “The need to monitor the Nigerian Flare Commercialization Programme towards ending Gas Flaring by 2020.”
Accordingly, the senate directed its Committee on Gas, Chaired by Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta South), to monitor the implementation of the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme (NGFCP).
It also urged the Federal Government to intensify efforts to diversify from crude oil to natural gas production.
Sponsor of the motion, Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers West), while drawing the attention of the Senate to laws against flaring of associated natural gas in Nigeria, lamented the manner in which such laws are disregarded by International Oil Companies operating in Nigeria.
According to the senator, Section 3(1) of the Gas Re-injection Act introduced in 1984, states that “no company engaged in the production of oil and gas shall after January 1, 1984 flare gas produced in association with or without the permission in writing of the minister.”
Apiafi who bemoaned the huge revenue loss due to unrelenting gas flares in the country, disclosed that in 2018 alone, according to data obtained from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Federal Government recorded a revenue loss to the tune of N197 billion from a total of 215.9 billion standard cubic feet of natural gas flared.
She noted further that “Nigeria has the largest Natural Gas Reserve in Africa and the ninth largest in the world.
“Nigeria’s gas reserves are about three times the value of her crude oil reserves with a value of around 202 trillion cubic feet (TFT) of proven Natural gas reserves, but despite having the largest gas reserves in Africa, only about 25 percent of these reserves are being produced or under development today.”
The senator added that the lack of enforcement of the laws on gas flaring in previous years is thwarting the Federal Government’s projected deadline of 2020 to end routine associated gas flaring.