By Patience Ivie Ihejirika
The environment is vital to human as it is depended upon for a livelihood. However, the environment is faced with an abundance of challenges which have direct impacts on human lives.
Like other countries of the world, Nigeria is faced with different forms of environmental issues, ranging from oil spillage, desertification, flood, and others. While the northern part of the country is battling with desertification, the Niger Delta region is faced with oil spillage, a menace which has made life arduous for inhabitants of this area.
Oil spillage, the relinquishment of liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially marine areas due to human activities has remained a major challenge in the Niger Delta region.
The menace has resorted in the slow poisoning of the waters in the area and the ravagement of vegetation and agricultural lands making the environment increasingly uninhabitable.
Several reports on oil spills in the region have betokened that millions of people residing in these areas are faced with unbearable health challenges including breathing quandaries and skin scratches, as they perpetuate to live with the effect of pollution caused by oil companies.
According to a report by the Department of Petroleum Resources, 1.89 million barrels of petroleum were spilled into the Niger Delta between 1976 and 1996 out of a total of 2.4 million barrels spilled in 4,835 incidents. A UNDP report additionally estimated 6,817 oil spills between 1976 and 2001, which account for a loss of three million barrels of oil, of which more than 70% was not recuperated.
Also, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), in 2011, documented the consequences of oil pollution in Ogoniland, verbalizing that the people have lived with chronic pollution all their lives.
According to the report, benzene levels were 900 times higher than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations and oil in the soil was five meters below the surface.
The report indicted Shell and ENI, verbally expressing the companies report more than 600 spills each year.
Meanwhile, the federal government had established the National Oil Spill Detection and Replication Agency as an institutional framework to implement the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan, which was initiated in 2006. The National Oil Spill Contingency Plan is a blueprint/manual for checking oil spill through containment, instauration, and remediation/recuperation. It is a strategy for obviating loss of lives, assets and natural resources.
Withal, in line with section 20 of the 1999 Constitution, the federal government established the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Environment.
By Patience Ivie Ihejirika