The oil companies have been given 7 days to "rectify faulty oil pumps and stop oil spills." Apparently, this ultimatum is in response to a recent trip to the Delta that was taken by a few Senators who apparently had little idea about the severity of the damage and poverty experienced by Delta residents.
Senator Eze of Enugu North said, "The Senate President has rightly put it that this is going to be a test case that we are not toothless bulldog. This Senate will bark and bite and we have to demonstrate the centrality of the Senate in the nation's democratic governance."
The motion passed by the Senate included the following language,
We "[c]ondemn unequivocally the Shell Petroleum development Company for its dastard act of neglect of the Ikot Ado Udo Oil Spillage in Akwa-Ibom for three months, leading to loss of livelihood to the people.Alright, it took a trip from some Senators for them to finally realize that oil companies must do a better job in the Delta? I hate to be so cynical, but they make it too easy for me. Besides, reading the 'motion' makes me realize that all this is empty rhetoric! It fails to contain a specific plan on addressing the environmental problem other than passing the buck on to the relevant agencies.
"Urge the President, Commnader-In-Chief [sic] to direct the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and other relevant multi-national corporations to rectify oil pumps and stop further spillage in the areas within seven days.
"Direct its Committees on Petroleum (Upstream) and Environment to invite the Minister of State Energy (Petroleum) and Minister of Environment to look into the issue and all other outstanding issues in the Niger Delta raised by the various Syndicate Groups and report back within two weeks.
"As a long time measure, direct the Committees on Petroleum (Upstream), Envir-onment and Judiciary and Legal Matters to immediately forward proposals for the amendment of all existing legislations to compel the multi-national oil companies responsible for oil spillage/ecological degradation of their operating areas to restore/develop the host communities/operating areas and pay adequate compensation."
Something tells me that Senator Eze's words will come back to bite him. But, I wonder, why are there no laws that require the oil companies to observe better environmental practices? I concluded that there aren't adequate laws based on the last paragraph of the motion. The Senate should not be condemning, urging or directing. They should DECISIVELY institute a motion to create the necessary laws that will protect the Delta's people and give oil companies the guidelines within which they can properly operate. TAKE CARE OF THE PROBLEM, ISN'T THAT YOUR JOB? The Senate makes it seem as if the oil companies are the bad guys! The government is at fault for not regulating the oil companies! If the Senate truly wanted to regulate oil production, it would.
We are watching....