Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta on Monday called on the Federal Government to put stringent measures in place to end gas flaring in the country.
Okowa made the call when Course 41 of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, led by Major-Gen. Felix Edafioghor in Asaba came to his office on a courtesy visit.
He said that stopping gas flaring in Nigeria would not only curb environmental hazards, but create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths and women.
“If you go to where gas is flared, which is still very common, you will understand why we need to be more serious about taking decisions to stop the flaring.
“Stopping gas flaring will be so much better for our people because the flared gas has already destroyed the environment, not just the natural habitat in terms of farming.
“It has also polluted very badly the air that we breathe.
“Only God knows the level of damage that it has caused and we believe that the laws must be implemented in such a manner that gas flaring is not just tied up to fines.
“This is because, as long as gas flaring is tied to fines, the oil companies begin to realise that it may be cheaper or easier to pay the fines than to stop the flaring of gas.
“Then, we obviously are not discouraging them,’’ the governor said.
According to him, though certain actions has been taken to address the menace in the past, the law must be applied to ensure that gas flaring is not tied to payment of fines.
Okowa said that some of the oil companies displayed a nonchalant attitude to the effect of gas exploration activities on the environment.
“I am aware that a lot has been done in the last few years, but there is a lot more that can be done because the gas that we flare can generate a lot of income for the oil companies if only it can be properly utilised.
“So, we must stay on our laws and ensure that we do what is right and stop tying the issue of gas flaring to fines.
“This is because continually tying gas flaring to fines is injurious to our people and our environment,’’ he said.
The governor decried the negative impacts of the oil economy on the environment, saying that in the course of exploration, the environment had been greatly damaged.
“This has also been worsened by the regularity of illegal bunkering activities that takes place in the state in which a lot of damage is done to our environment.
“The damage constitute both agricultural and health hazard to the people,’’ he said.
He commended the visiting team and said that its findings would be useful to the government and people of the state.
He said some of his administration’s achievements were in the area of jobs creation, health insurance scheme and infrastructure development.
Earlier, Edafioghor had said that the team was in the state for an environmental study tour, in part fulfilment of its training programme requirement.