The Senate on Wednesday mandated its Committee on Gas to monitor implementation of the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme (NGFCP).
The Committee on Gas, chaired by Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta South), according to a statement by Ezrel Tabiowo, Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate President, was also directed to immediately review and recommend upwards penalty for defaulters of nation’s gas flaring laws.
The resolution followed the consideration of a motion titled: “The need to monitor the Nigerian Flare Commercialization Programme towards ending Gas Flaring by 2020,” urging the Federal Government to intensify diversification from crude oil to natural gas production.
Sponsor of the motion, Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers West), while drawing the attention of the Senate to laws against flaring of associated natural gas in Nigeria, lamented the manner in which such laws are disregarded by International Oil Companies operating in Nigeria.
According to her, Section 3(1) of the Gas Re-injection Act introduced in 1984, states that “no company engaged in the production of oil and gas shall after January 1, 1984 flare gas produced in association with or without the permission in writing of the minister.”
Apiafi who bemoaned the huge revenue loss due to unrelenting gas flares in the country disclosed that in 2018 alone, according to data obtained from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Federal Government recorded a revenue loss estimated at N197bn from a total of 215.9bn standard cubic feet of natural gas flared.
She lamented further that “Nigeria has the largest Natural Gas Reserve in Africa and the ninth-largest in the world.
Commenting on why Nigeria should focus on natural gas and no longer crude oil, which is about three times the value of her crude, the Senator said the country has the largest gas reserves in Africa, but only produces 25% of the reserves.
Specifically, she said the country has around 202 trillion cubic feet (TFT) of proven Natural gas reserves, stressing that the lack of enforcement of the gas flaring laws over the years is thwarting the Federal Government’s 2020 projected deadline to end routine associated gas flaring.
In a similar move, the Senate on Wednesday also moved to end modern slavery in Nigeria, mandating its Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, and the Disaster Management and Social Development to set up a joint technical team that will promote inter-agency cooperation for effective intelligence sharing. Other agencies are the Ministry of Health, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
The upper chamber also urged the newly established Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, NAPTIP and other relevant government agencies to intensify surveillance towards curbing modern-day slavery.
The Senate also directed the Ministry of Health urgently to provide relief materials to the recent victims of trafficking and modern slavery.
These were part of four resolutions reached by the upper chamber sequel to the consideration of a motion sponsored by Senator Uba Sani (APC, Kaduna Central).
Uba noted that in 2019 alone, over 300 persons, including 77 children, were discovered by the police in chains in Rigasa, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State on Thursday, September 26.
According to him, another 147 persons, most of whom were children and young adults were rescued from an illegal religious rehabilitation centre in Rigasa, on Saturday, October 19, 2019.
The lawmaker stated that the National Bureau of Statistical Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey records show that forty-three per cent of Nigerian children between the ages of five and 17 years are engaged in child or forced labour.
Quoting the Global Slavery Index (GSI) 2018, the senator said that the population of people in slavery in Nigeria was 1,384,000, a number which is more than the total number of all the other 16 West African countries.