The Chairman, Board of National Oil Spill Detention and Response Agency, Maj. Lancelot Ayanya (rtd), has said that the Act under which the agency presently functions could not adequately address the issue of oil spillage in the country.
He said while one of the major functions of any regulatory agency is to enforce compliance, Ayanya said that the act establishing NOSDRA did not confer on it the power to punish those involved in oil spillage in the Niger Delta.
The Board chairman however commended the National Assembly for giving a bill which will give legal teeth to the agency accelerated attention, adding that he had been briefed that it had reached third reading.
Ayanya, who spoke after having an inaugural meeting with the entire board members and management staff of NOSDRA, stated, “I know that the main thrust of the bill before the National Assembly is to address the glaring inadequacies of the present act in which NOSDRA has so much responsibility without the power for enforcement.
“I know in most regulatory environment, some of the strongest ways to enforce compliance are fines and penalties. I do not think that the current Act provides much for that. The bill is expected to address some of these lapses. Fine and penalty is not is fund NOSDRA but to enable a strong message of deterrent to those who spill oil.Part of the amendment is to punish more stringently the offenders and to ensure that with the right sanctions in place, there is no incentive for you to if you spill oil.
Throwing more light on the bill, NODRA Director General Engr. Peter Idabor, also explained part of the amendment examined compensation guidelines, adding that the agency was vested with the responsibility to administer compensations to the affected communities.
He added, “Part of the amendment is to look at the compensation guidelines. NOSDRA has the responsibility of dealing with compensation. We are supposed to be trustees of the community were the oil is found. One of the problems we have with some our youths who form the ability of breaking pipelines, is that they are only concern with immediate gains at the expense of their health and safety of their lives.”
Idabor regretted the attitude of companies that spilled oil to compensation, stressing that some of the multinational preferred to spend their huge financial muscle to hiring lawyers to thwart court cases against them rather than compensating affected communities.
“You can go and check out how many people the oil companies have really compensated. They are very few; they don’t compensate instead they hire lawyers who are Nigerians and keep asking for adjournment until your money will finish and you won’t go to court again. “As an agency, we are facing a crop of operators who have little conscience. What they do in Nigeria they don’t do in their countries.
Our life expectancy is coming down. Young men and women are dying in their primes today because of what they eat. What we collect through the food chains through our vegetables we eat, snails, fishes and all others add up to shorting our lives,” he added.