Policy Alert, a non-governmental organization working for improved economic and environmental governance in Nigeria, has called on the federal government to publish historical data on gas flare penalty payments and distribution by oil companies operating in the Niger Delta since 1984.
The call was made, Tuesday, by Iniobong Usen, the organisation’s Programme Lead, Open Data and Extractives, during a chat with journalists on the wings of an event organized by Policy Alert in Uyo to mark the 2020 International Open Data Week.
“The federal government formally declared gas flaring illegal since 1984. Since then there have been several shifts in flare-out deadline. As if the ridiculous penalties for flaring are not bad enough, we are in a situation where the actual penalties paid into government coffers are shared to all parts of Nigeria without any special consideration for the communities suffering the impact of the gas flaring.
To enable us have a clearer picture of the damage to these communities and also to empower communities to make effective demands, the Department for Petroleum Resources (DPR) should publish historical data on volumes of gas flared since the prohibition in 1984, how much penalties it has received for gas flaring by companies, and how much losses government has incurred due to its inaction on this matter each year since then” Usen said.
He added: “The government cannot be rewarding itself for its own negligence. You cannot also be killing Peter to pay Paul by sharing the gas flare penalties to every federating unit in Nigeria, oblivious to the reality that communities close to flare sites suffer untold hardships as a direct consequence of their exposure to these flares, that people are dying and livelihoods are being destroyed especially in the Niger Delta.
“If Nigeria as a member of the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFP) has abandoned the 2020 deadline and is now adopting the 2030 World Bank-driven flare-out date, we should know. We would be left with no option than to demand that a derivation formula be adopted to share gas flare revenues in the next ten years until flare-out such that the penalties can be deployed to assuage the pains of those bearing the brunt of the flares.”
The International Open Data Day was marked across the globe on March 7, 2020. A statement by Policy Alert said it organized the fireside chat today to call attention to the need for citizens to increasingly data from public budgets and the extractive sector to demand accountability from government and companies.