23 August, 2011, Sweetcrude, Asaba – EXCEPT the Federal Government rises up to the challenge and wields its political will the issue of stopping gas flaring which has suffered several shifts in deadline, will persist, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State has said.
Amaechi who spoke in Asaba at the opening of a three-day 2nd edition of States Climate Change also called for a constitutional amendment that would expressly allow communities who suffer environmental degradation to monitor the attendant safety measures put in place.
“The issue of gas flaring, is an issue within the remit of the Federal Government because it is not within our (States) purview to get up up one day and say gas flaring should stop because it has environmental consequences on our people .
“But let us leave the environmental consequences what about the economic consequences. Do you know how much gas we are losing and if you convert that to cash how many people in Delta we can feed?
“The United Nations Environmental Protection Agency report showed 50 years of oil exploration in Ogoni land. Am sure if similar studies are conducted elsewhere the story may not be much different.
“The multi- nationals have refused to be good corporate citizens. They are still flaring gas despite several shift in deadline. Government at all levels must begin to consider alternative energy sources.
“We must also review our legislations and ensure strict compliance by all stakeholders. This is our world and we have a responsibility to keep it safe.
“I always wondered if perhaps the unwieldy nature of our federalism is the reason we are unable to protect our environment. The man in Sokoto will only know the safety nature of desertification he will not know what the man who has oil suffers, so let us allow a constitutional amendment to allow such things to be in the hands of those who suffer from it. It is simple but you know Nigerians, they will never agree. If you introduce it now as a constitutional amendment, the argument will drag from now until we all die, our children have taken over and all that. But that is my view.
“My view is that if you live in an environment where they produce coal, be part of those that will monitor the safety measures. I am careful not to be accused of introducing fiscal federalism. I will say okay even if you want to keep part of the fiscal part of the federalism, allow me to monitor my own state which you were unable to monitor except if you meet the required international standards,” he stated.