Oil Spill Management in Niger Delta Institutional Arrangements

Subject: Environment
Pages: 5
Words: 1453
Reading time:
7 min
Study level: PhD


Environmental degradation in Nigeria and regions along Niger Delta has persisted for many years due to oil spillage (Eweje 2006, p. 30). In this regard, an examination of governance of oil spillage in Niger Delta raises critical issues in regard to policy and legislative framework associated with oil exploration (Osaghae 1995, p. 327). A background analysis of oil spills in Niger Delta started in 1958 when the first drilling commenced. Several oil companies like Shell, Total, Texaco and Agip have been attributed with the spillage in Niger Delta (Obi 2009, p. 472). Good governance in regard to management of oil spills in Niger Delta is discussed in this paper. The paper also discusses how the topic can be applied on a global scale.

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Theoretical framework

Policy and legal framework

There are several policies and legal frameworks used to manage oil spills at Niger Delta. However, these laws and policies are applied as international and national standards of resource management. For example, the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990 is considered a guideline in preventing oil spillage (Kurtz 2004, p. 202). OPA is attributed with providing the framework of allocating financial resources when responding to an oil spillage disaster (Kiern 1994, p. 487). In order to complement OPA, the Nigerian government has enacted several laws that protect the environment from oil spillage. These laws include the Federal Environmental Protection Agency Act and Petroleum, and Mineral Regulations (Ogri 2001, p. 13).

The establishment of National Oil Spill Detection and Reponses Agency (NOSDRA) by the Federal Council of Nigeria has been critical in managing the problem (Ugochukwu & Ertel 2008, p. 143). However, NOSDRA’s main role is to monitor and enforce regulations on oil spills management (Oluduro 2010, p. 259).

Institutional analysis

Irrespective of the institutionalized governance of oil spillage in Niger Delta, laws and policies are never implemented. From a research conducted by Human Rights Watch on multinational oil companies operating in Niger Delta, it emerged that the local population was not involved in major decision making. There is evidence that some of the oil drilling facilities are poorly designed raising the questions of stakeholder input in the industry (Manby 1999, p. 182). The level of poverty, unemployment and infrastructure underdevelopment in the Niger Delta raises negative questions about governance. In fact, at least 36% of sampled members from 18 communities revealed their reason for engaging in armed conflict (Oyefusi 2007, p. 19). Due to poverty levels and lack of inclusion in managing of oil drilling in the Niger Delta, cases of vandalism that result to oil spillage are on the increase (Ogege 2011; Ugbomeh & Atubi 2010).

Public participation in policy making has been a critical issue in environmental processes (Holmes & Scoones 2001, p. 77). The inclusion of the public as a major stakeholder is necessary for achieving a broader knowledge base in regards to environmental management (O’Faircheallaigh 2010, p. 21). The lack of autonomy within the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) proves that the bureaucracy is a major hindrance to good governance (Omeje 2005, p. 321). In this context, the control of the government agency over NNPC is characterized by delays and inefficiencies in managing of oil spillage (Okpanachi & Andrews 2012, p. 446). Lack of accountability to the stakeholders shows that government agencies do not support transparency in managing oil spills (Rwabizambuga 2005, p. 83). Government’s lack of accountability in Niger Delta is evidenced by underperformance of agencies in regards to preventing and managing of oil spills (Gary & Karl 2003, p. 6).

Judicial system

An element of good governance in managing of oil spills in Niger Delta can be derived from an effective judicial system (Idemudia 2009, p. 95). The researcher examines emerging issues in relation to resource management in Niger Delta (Idemudia 2009, p.91). An effective judicial system implicated in the Community Development Partnership (CDP) initiative is to be utilized in collaborating with Transnational Corporations (TNCs). Creating awareness of the environmental risks associated with the oil spill among court officials is important for the legislative framework. Most importantly, the judiciary will be able to create a strong legal framework that seeks to manage oil spill through punitive measures against violators. An examination of community development partners identifies court users and judges as potential stakeholders.

Political support

A research on Nigerian situation identifies political support as a theoretical element of good governance in relation to resource management (Akpabio & Akpan 2010, p. 111). The researchers use secondary data to identify how more than 80% of Nigeria’s total revenue can benefit the population through effective politics. In this regard, the researchers identify factors such as wrong policies, lack of transparency and accountable leadership as a political misfortune causing mismanagement of resources in Niger Delta. Moreover, management of the oil spill requires support from an effective legal framework on pollution control and biodiversity conservation.

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Environmental education

Environmental education at school and community levels is necessary for the management of resources. A research examines how environmental education in the 21st century has become a critical factor in management of natural resources (Palmer 2002, p. 355). In this regard, the researcher examines the history and development of the concept and how it has evolved as a global agenda. From the study, theories on environmental education and research, as well as structure and practice, are reviewed. Moreover, the researcher implies how environmental education is applicable in a global context. The researcher emphasizes on the need for further progress and improvement of environmental education in the 21st century. From this perspective, the strategy’s main goal is to institute behavioural change among oil companies in regard to establishing sustainable environmental management programs. Therefore, environmental education should be conducted in public and private schools, government and private institutions. The education topics should be limited to improvement of environmental conservation efforts.

Public participation

Public participation in planning for a sustainable environment is critical in resource management (Blowers 2013, p. ii). The education and practical conservation activities should involve the civil society, as well as non-profit making organizations. Setting up a committee made up of the public members, civil society, professionals and government officials in monitoring the environmental and social effects of the oil spill is critical. Public participation should involve the formation of a committee mandated with the responsibility to represent the community’s interests (Blowers 2013, p. 192). In this context, the committee will discuss the impact of the companies’ activities and make a recommendation on how to manage oil spills. The study gives an example of how public participation through focus group was integral in the construction of Hampshire’s transport system in England (Blowers 2013, p. 192). In this regard, public participation in management of oil spills in Niger Delta should involve matters of waste disposal, pollution control and infrastructure.

Socio-economic issues

Addressing socioeconomic and human rights is critical in managing resources. The Nigerian approach to management of oil spills addresses traditional values of people living at the Niger Delta (Chokor 1993, p. 15). In this regard, the community’s values in relation to environmental conservation must be upheld as necessary in managing oil spills. The researcher studies how Nigeria uses modern institutional control measures as environmental conservation efforts (Chokor 1993, p. 15). The researcher reviews how Nigeria has established federal environmental protection agency to manage natural resources.

Global application

Problems of oil spill management do not concern Niger Delta only, but also other regions in the world. This research topic is critical in addressing how good governance is critical in managing oil spill using the example of Niger Delta. From the topic, it is evident that the lack of institutionalized framework promotes ineffective oil spill management. Therefore, the need to strengthen legal institutions and regulations, as well as government agencies is essential. The problem in Niger delta raises critical issues that could have been addressed during the Gulf of Mexico Oil spill in 2010 (Omotola 2010, p. 99). In fact, there are numerous occasions where casual oil spills are evidenced in Indian Ocean and other coastal lines.

A need to reform governance and management of oil spills is inevitable. In this case, countries drilling oil are required to initiate legal reforms and regulations in regard to the resource management. Committing resources in oil spill management should be prioritized as an environmental global concern. Considering that countries have ratified legislation on global environmental management, punitive measures must be enforced when nations fail to comply. In this context, good governance on oil spills should involve civic responsibility. Therefore, establishing education curriculum across the globe to address oil spill management and related environmental and socio-economic effects is necessary. Moreover, governments around the world should invest in research-based and community-based approaches when addressing oil spill management issues (Ite 2007, p. 7).


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