ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY IN NIGERIA AND CHALLENGE OF CRUDE OIL THEFT
The environment includes the air, land, water and everything that it produces that sustains humans within. Humans in order to access these resources both for their survival, development and to sustain their position in the global market, has exploited these resources in a manner that has depreciated the integrity of the environment by causing depletion of land fertility, global warming of biodiversity, killing aquatic lives, deforestation, etc.This pollution in Nigeria emanates mostly from the oil sector, from spillages caused by process of oil exploitation and corroded pipes, and a serious and rampant case is the incidence of oil theft.
The Nigerian society has however, not ignored the developments of activities of oil gangs, supported by communities heads, war lords and political sponsors, and, has consequently set out some measures to battle these strain in the Nigeria economy. These measures include regulations such as the constitution federal republic of Nigeria 1999. The criminal code, the national oil spill detection and response Agency (established) Act, the petroleum industry bill, etc.
This paper shall examine the challenge of oil theft in the Nigerian environment and the efficacy of the measures set out to tackle the problem of crude oil theft.
The paper shall conclude by recommending increase in local participation to secure oil pipelines, government collaboration with international communities to tackle oil theft, creation of job opportunities to engage jobless youth in locale where these pipelines are laid, educating the joint task force on issues of environmental pollution.
- BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Since the discovery of oil in Oloibiri a village in the Niger Delta by the Shell British Petroleum in 1956, the Nigerian economy has not only boosted financially but also have suffered the negative impact of oil activities going on in the territory.
The Niger Delta region is blessed with 606 oil fields of which 360 are on shore and 246 off shore. The oil industry in Nigeria contributes a good percentage of Nigeria’s economy earnings; however it has also become a source of loss in the Nigerian economy budget. This is associated with the oil spills from the oil exploitation, and a more reoccurring and disturbing issue, is the activities of the oil thieves.
Oil theft has become the order of the day, with our daily national newspapers parading these issues and no improvement in its reduction. The activities of oil thieves have resulted in negative impacts in the environment, the Nigerian economy (national budget) and have also posed insecurity threats.
Unfortunately, the perpetrators of these crimes have monarchs and political backings and always get away with these crimes. All of these activities have only degraded the environment of the Nigeria State.
Laws/regulations and measures have been set out by the federal government to reduce and discourage the activities of the oil thieves. Regrettably, these laws have been weakened by its enforcement strength, unemployment, institutional weakness of the relevant agency, and bribery and corruption, hence, the government must first deal with the root of the problem before looking at the rest of it. This research work attempts to examine the challenge of crude oil theft in the Nigerian society and make recommendations.
- SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study seeks to study the challenges of halting crude oil theft in the Niger delta region and also access the environmental integrity in Nigeria.
- SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study is centered on the assessment of environmental integrity in Nigeria and the challenge of crude oil theft in the south southern part of Nigeria making use of the environmental rights action as a case study.
- OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
- To know the challenges of crude oil theft so as to proffer solutions.
- To know the impact of crude oil theft on environmental integrity in Nigeria.
- To study those laws and strengthen the laws that prohibits environmental degradation.
- RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What are the challenges of crude theft in Nigeria?
- Does crude oil theft have a negative impact on environmental integrity?
- What are the laws prohibiting environmental degradation and crude oil theft and can these laws be strengthened for optimal benefits?
- REASEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: crude oil theft does not affect the environmental integrity of the Niger delta region.
H1: crude oil theft affects the environmental integrity of the Niger delta region.
- DEFINITION OF TERMS
ENVIRONMENT: the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates.
CRUDE OIL THEFT:Mixture of naturally occurring hydrocarbons that is refined into diesel, gasoline, heating oil, jet fuel, kerosene, and literally thousands of other products called petrochemicals. Crude oils are named according to their contents and origins, and classified according to their per unit weight (specific gravity). Heavier crudes yield more heat upon burning, but have lower API gravity and market price in comparison to light (or sweet) crudes.
POPULATION:a summation of all the organisms of the same group or species, which live in a particular geographical area, and have the capability of interbreeding. In ecology, thepopulation of a certain species in a certain area is estimated using the Lincoln Index.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
2.1 What is Environmental Integrity?
In an attempt to understand the meaning of the phrase “environmental integrity”, this paper, shall attempt to separate the phrase to enable it arrive at a definition.
While the phrase “Environmental” concerns with the environment; connected with the natural conditions in which people, animals and plant live”. The term integrity connotes uprightness, honesty, purity entireness, wholeness; the unimpaired state of anything. Given the above meanings to the phrase, it follows that environmental integrity is the retainment of the pure state, the unimpaired state of the natural conditions in which people, animals and plant live in all human endeavours.
Environmental integrity has also been defined as the sustenance of important biophysical processes which support plant and animal life and which must be allowed to continue without significant change. The objective is to assure the continued health of essential life support systems of nature, including air, water, and soil by protecting the resistance, diversity and purity of natural communities (ecosystems) within the environment.
Strictosenso, environmental integrity paints a picture of an environment void of all forms of pollution from all polluting sources, which are basically the making of human activities in its quest for survival ranging from pollution from industries, homes, etc.
This means that human survival and development cannot exist without pollution and because this state is unattainable, i.e. (humans cannot just still and await death) the concept of environmental integrity will now mean an effort by humans to maintain a sustainability of environmental resources of the environment in all aspects of its activities through its conducts, applicability of its working tools and through regulations applied in such a way as to improve all the components of the environment and not to degrade same.
2.2. ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY IN NIGERIA
Flowing from the above definition of what environmental integrity connotes, the question that arises is what is the state of environment in Nigeria? How Environmental integrity maintained in Nigeria? In the quest for economic development, Nigeria veered in industrialization at independence.
The first decade (1960 – 1970) of Nigeria’s independence witnessed government plan to promote growth of industries in order to contribute directly to economic growth and national development. In the 1970’s two of the most applauded goals of the national development plans were:
- Increase in self reliance in the supply of industrial products and factor inputs.
- Develop and support small and medium scale industries and their contribution to manufacturing.
In 1990s, the government targeted, among others:
- Domestication of industrial processes and enhancement of economic efficiency; and
- Increase in capacity utilization in the industrial sector, employment generation and poverty alleviation.
In the new millennium, the thrust is privatization and commercialization, employment generation and poverty eradication.
Overall, government pursues national economic development through growth of industries through continuous research in science and technology, development of new product, high quality standard in industrial goods and services, ability to produce building capacity to successfully face challenges of competition and increase in taste.
As successive Nigerian governments also established and invested in industries, so industrial economic development also assaulted and degraded the Nigerian environment.
The government focused on maximum exploitation of natural resources for rapid economic development with scant regard for resource conservation and sustainability. Environmental and social consequences of envisaged projects were ignored. Industrial activities, usually carried out in Nigeria with weak legal framework and regulation infrastructure, led to pollution of water resources, destruction of fauna and flora, health hazards and deterioration of health quality, air and noise pollution, as well as destruction of traditional economic infrastructures within communities tasking some of these high powered investments.
For example, the Kaduna Industrial Complex that houses textile mills today constitutes environmental nuisance and a source of water pollution. Other threats related to human activities that have further amplified the country’s vulnerability to environmental degradation include:
- Population growth and Urbanization: Population growth and urbanization has increased drastically. The population living in urban centres is projected to rise to 60% by 2015. The drivers of urbanization in Nigeria include concentration of development activities in urban centres. One of the major negative impacts of high urbanization is massive waste generation and attendant disposal problems resulting in a threat to the quality of air we breath, water, land. Nigerian cities and towns are mostly horrible examples of unplanned population growth, poor town planning methods, squalor and environmental degradation which cry for immediate action. Population growth has also put a lot of pressure on our forest as the rising farming population seeks for more land for survival.
- Poor Farming Practice: The lack of farming education has encouraged poor farming practice in Nigeria resulting to a massive loss of lands.
- Exploitation of Fire wood for Survival by rural dwellers to cook their meals.
- Uncontrolled Logging: The global demand for tropical hardwoods is increasing daily. High intensity of logging and illegal exploitation of tree species has continued to pose serious threats to the country’s forest resource and environment. The use of modern machinery such as tractors, and trucks has made logging even faster and easier, resulting or increasing rate of illegal logging. These days, illegal loggers are often armed to confront forest guards that dare to stop them.
- Fire/Waste Incineration: Bush fires have become a major environmental hazard in most parts of Nigeria.
Indiscriminate fire is caused by farmers, smokers and hunters who look for game. Fire is also caused during disposal of waste, as burning of waste appears to be the only means of waste disposal in Nigeria.
The combined effect of the above listed features have resulted in a visible and alarming rate of degradation in our environment, causing great damage to our land and bringing sorrow and poverty to many of our people. The consequences of these polluting activities include but not limited to:
- Deforestation: The continuous removal or destruction of significant areas of forest has resulted in a highly degraded environment with attendant reduction in biodiversity. UNEP in 2006 estimated that annual deforestation in Nigeria covers 663,000 hectares of land.
- Desertification: Between 50% and 75% of Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara and Yobe states are under threats of desertification. In these areas, population pressure, resulting in over grazing, over exploitation of fire wood of marginal lands and aggravated drought due to global warming has accelerated the rate of desertification.
- Soil Erosion: The degradation caused by erosion in Nigeria is occurring at an increasing and alarming rate, aggravated by such factors as increased agricultural activities, civil construction works, deforestation, bush burning, over grazing, drainage blockage, poor water management, urbanization and increased population pressure.
- Solid Wastes: Solid waste management has emerged as a major environmental threat for cities in developing countries world wide. Solid waste management has gained notoriety in Nigeria today because of its visibility and the embarrassment it has constituted to the image of the nation. It is therefore a common site to find mountains of waste scattered all over our cities with no apparent effort displayed at getting rid of them, even with the attendant risk of air and ground water pollution.