The Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, said there is need to empower the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to partner the Joint Task Force (JTF) to improve the current oil pollution management in the country.
She said the problem of environmental pollution in Rivers State has become an issue of concern, with the soot particles they breathe in every day arising from illegal mining as well as the burning of illegal refineries.
Speaking at a stakeholders' workshop on 'NOSDRA Establishment Act Amendment Bill' in Abuja, the minister said there is need to oversee the decommissioning of abandoned facilities of individual refineries.
She said: "The devastating impacts of oil spills on the environment, health and livelihoods of our rural and urban communities have led to land degradation and pollution."
These illegal and inhuman practices must be stopped if we are to develop and progress as a nation," she said.
However, the Bill seeking a review of the NOSDRA Act, which has been in the National Assembly since 2011, was rejected by President Mohammadu Buhari due to concerns of likely overlapping functions with other agencies.
The minister hopes the workshop gives better clarification on each point raised by the President in order to make oil spill management meet up with international best practices.
The Director General of NOSDRA, Idris Musa, said the bill was passed by both chambers of the 8th National Assembly but was declined assent by the President, adding, "The efforts made so far until this point have been indeed tasking and engaging."
Representative of the Senate Committee Chairman on Environment, Ibrahim Hadeja, said the rejection of the bill by the President could have been avoided if they had taken time to engage the relevant partners in the preparation.
He said it was clearly a case of misunderstanding, and advised NOSDRA to always ensure that due diligence is followed before submission for consideration.