By Michael Eboh, Tochukwu Maxwell and Temitayo Gold
Abuja — Chairman, House Committee on Environment, Obinna Chidoka, yesterday, warned that the National Assembly would be compelled to veto President Muhammadu Buhari, if he failed to give assent to the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, Amendment Bill 2018.
Speaking at a stakeholders workshop on ‘Reducing Environmental Degradation in the Niger Delta through Improved Oil Spill Response’, Chidoka joined civil society organisations in calling on the president to sign the Bill into law.
Chidoka noted that the amendment bill, which both arms of the National Assembly had passed, when signed into law, would strengthen NOSDRA.
He said: “We need to hold the international oil companies accountable for every drop of oil they spill in the Niger Delta. And to actualise this, we need to strengthen NOSDRA, not only for it to respond to oil spills, but to have the capacity to prevent it.
“This is one reason why we want the President to sign the bill into law. And I will say that if it needs to veto him (Buhari), we will do the needful in the life of this National Assembly.”
Also speaking, National Coordinator, National Coalition on Gas flares and Oil spills in the Niger Delta, Edward Obi, noted that based on the need for accelerated assent to the bill, NACGOND organised the workshop to highlight the socio-environmental benefits and opportunities of the bill.
He said: “There is no better time or opportunity for the Presidency to show its commitment to a pollution-free Niger Delta than by assenting to the NOSDRA Amendment Bill 2018 that has been passed by the National Assembly.
“Assenting the bill, among other expected outcomes, will accelerate the clean-up and restoration of the Niger Delta environment. It will be a complementary effort to what the Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project is doing in Ogoni land.
“The bill, as passed by the National Assembly, increases NOSDRA capacity to protect the environment and respond to oil spills and control the disposal of oily wastes in the Niger Delta. The bill increases funding to NOSDRA to respond to spills by third parties including individuals, servicing companies, vandals and oil thieves.”
On his part, Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Niger Delta, Edobor Iyamu, assured stakeholders at the workshop that the President would sign the bill after all the required processes had been concluded.
“I don’t have any doubt in my mind about the signing of that bill into law by the President. But there is a process that must be followed before this can happen. However, this government is committed to having clean and healthy environments in the Niger Delta and this bill seeks to help achieve this,” he said.