The Federal Government of Nigeria has said it will develop a comprehensive National Oiled Wildlife Contingency Plan, to protect and preserve the country’s wildlife in the event of any oil spills.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Yusuf, said this at a National workshop on Developing Oiled Wildlife Contingency Plan (OWCP) on Tuesday, June 20, 2023, in Abuja.
The workshop was organised by the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), in collaboration with the Global Initiative for West Central and Southern Africa (GI-WACAF).
Yusuf said the contingency plan aimed to safeguard the ecosystem and protect the wildlife that depended on them for survival in the event of an oil spill.
He was represented by Mr Charles Ikea, Director, Pollution, Control and Environmental Health, Ministry of Environment.
The permanent secretary said that the foundation of any robust oiled wildlife contingency plans lied in collaboration and coordination.
Yusuf said that Nigeria and the world in recent years have witnessed several oil incidents with impacts on the environment.
”These events serve as stark reminders of the vulnerability of our natural habitats and the fragile lives that inhabit them.
“Wildlife from seabirds, marine mammals, fish and reptiles, face dire consequences when oil contaminates their habitats.
”It is our responsibility, therefore, to prepare for such incidents and act promptly to mitigate their impacts,” he said.
Yusuf said that developing an effective oiled wildlife contingency plan, was not a regulatory requirement, but an ethical obligation we owe the creatures that share our planet.
He said that education and awareness played pivotal roles in stakeholders efforts to preserve the wildlife during oil spills.
Yusuf said that the most effective way of reducing the damaging effects of all spills is to focus on prevention.
”By implementing stringent regulations, monitoring systems, ensuring high integrity of oil facilities and risk assessment strategies, we can significantly reduce the likelihood of oil spills,” he said.
He said it was crucial to establish a well- coordinated respond response framework, including clear lines of communication and available resources.
”This will ensure a rapid and effective response to oiled wildlife incidents, maximising our ability to rescue, treat and rehabilitate affected animals,” he said.
In a remark, the Director-General, NOSDRA, Mr Idris Musa, said that the workshop aimed to develop a comprehensive oiled wildlife contingency plan.
He said that a final contingency plan would serve as a blueprint for immediate and effective response in the event of an oil spill.
”It will ensure that our actions are swift, coordinated and informed by the best available knowledge and expertise,” he said.
Musa explained that oil spill incidents posed significant threat to the natural ecosystems and the diverse wildlife that call these habitats home.
”It is our responsibility as stewards of our common heritage, environment, to ensure that we have effective plans in place to mitigate theses risks and protect our wildlife,” he said.
Ms Anais Guillou, Gl WACAP Project Manager, said the project is aimed at enhancing the capacity of partner countries to prepare for and respond to marine oil spills.
She said that, to achieve its mission, the Gl WACAP project organises and delivers workshop to communicate good practice in all aspects of spill preparedness and response.
Guillou said it drew expertise and experience from within government, industry and other organisations working in the project’s specialised field.
In a Goodwill message, Mr Anibaba Usman, Lead, Oil Spill Response, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, commended NOSDRA for the exemplary guidance in the management of oil spill.