COMMUNIQUÉ: Policy Dialogue On Strengthening The National Oil Spill Detection & Response Agency



The Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) uses its Natural Resource Charter Framework to provide governance options to Government of Nigeria to promote effective management of natural resources for the benefit of the Nigerian people. Precept 5 of the Natural Resource Charter Framework recommends that governments pursue opportunities for local benefits, and account for, mitigate and offset the environmental and social costs of resource extraction projects.

It is against this background that the Expert Advisory Panel of the NNRC collaborated with the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP), another organization focused on supporting Nigerian stakeholders to organize a one-day dialogue on strengthening the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA); the agency with the responsibility of preparedness, detection and response to all oil spillages in Nigeria.

The Policy Dialogue was one of a series of initiatives aimed at generating proposals that would contribute to ongoing efforts to strengthen NOSDRA through review of its enabling law and ipso facto enhance their prospects of addressing the bottlenecks preventing the effective management of oil spills in Nigeria.

The Policy Dialogue, which was moderated by Mr. Odein Ajumogobia; the Chairman of the expert advisory panel of the NNRC, representatives of the NNRC and members of its expert advisory panel, NOSDRA, NSRP, Facility for Oil Sector Transformation (FOSTER) and the Multi-stakeholder Platform on Oil Spills Management in the Niger Delta. 2


The Policy Dialogue made the following observations that underscored the need for strengthening NOSDRA.

1. The current effort to strengthen NOSDRA is timely given widespread consensus among key stakeholders specifically; community members in oil producing areas, oil companies and NOSDRA, on the need for concerted action to better manage oil spills.

2. After ten years of its existence, there should be sufficient lessons for NOSDRA on factors limiting its performance to be considered to avert initiation of cosmetic amendments to the NOSDRA Act that fail to address structural and operational challenges of NOSDRA.

3. There is little or no knowledge among local communities and members of the Nigerian public about the existence and role of NOSDRA. This stems from insufficient involvement of NOSDRA in public enlightenment programmes. Consequently, there is limited support and cooperation by the local communities towards effort to mitigate, clean, report oil spill due to collective cynicism towards government agencies. Apart from the general sense of disengagement of members of the Nigerian public from government agencies, the ignorance about operations of NOSDRA largely accounts for poor levels of contact between members of the public and NOSDRA.

4. Government agencies responsible for oil spill management are established by legislations prescribing similar provisions to these agencies leading to confusion amongst regulators of the scope of their functions.

5. The general malaise of the Nigerian public sector is largely responsible for the ineffective oil spill response and management system in Nigeria. Specific roles of each of the different government agencies at federal and state levels with broad mandates on environmental protection and oil spill management. 3 6. Lack of clear-cut delineation of roles and responsibilities of key government agencies in enabling legislation has led individual actors to adopt modus Vivendi positions that work momentarily but rarely outlive their initiators. This has been the case in the sphere of oil spills management regarding separation of roles between the Department of Resources (DPR) and NOSDRA. 7. NOSDRA is funded by federal government appropriation and given its scope of activities, the funds are grossly limited leaving the agency with inadequate operational facilities, inability to hire skilled hands, sustain adequate training and remediate areas of disastrous oil pollution. 8. Industry operators have been alienated by what they perceive to be NOSDRA’s preferred punitive rather than solution driven and collaborative approach to addressing oil spills as well as its insufficient focus on spills caused by sabotage of equipment and oil theft.


From the responses to the presentations made by NOSDRA and the discussions, the following actionable recommendations were made:

1. Jurisdictional challenges amongst government organizations which have conflicting mandates has often resulted in a turf war amongst the agencies effectively undermining their capacity to carry out their responsibilities. In amending the NOSDRA Act, these conflicts must be resolved by comprehensive amendments of the enabling acts other institutions charged with management of environmental degradation and pollution especially related to the oil and gas industry. The proposed amendments should also aim to improve coordination and collaboration amongst agencies. 4

2. NOSDRA should adopt more collaborative and solution oriented approaches that will create the enabling environment for the cooperation and coordination needed for effective prevention and management of oil spills. This would require significant change in organization.

3. The provision for representation of oil industry on the Board of the Agency should be reconsidered as it undermines the independence and may lead to conflict of interest. Also the amendment should provide for other mentioned government agencies to be represented by heads of department charged with coordination on oil spills and environmental protection.

4. NOSDRA must deepen its engagements with communities through public enlightenment programmes aimed at sensitizing communities to the dangers of oil spills as well as equipping them with necessary information on how to prevent, detect and report oil spills. To yield maximum results, there is need for adoption of the conflict sensitive approaches to community engagements.

5. The funding sources for NOSDRA should be reexamined and efforts made to develop more pragmatic funding models that would enhance its effectiveness. There is clear need for diversified funding streams for NOSDRA.

6. There is need for the amendment of the NOSDRA Act to be guided by global best practice where penalties and fines are context specific rather than prescribed in enabling laws. Consequently, the different provisions on fines should be amended to remove the maximum prescribed amount. The law should rather stipulate that penalties should be based on extent of damages caused or likely to be caused. 5 7.

A substantial proportion of the NOSDRA budget should be devoted to capacity building of staff as well as expansion of infrastructure of the agency as gaps in capacity have negatively impacted on operations and results. 8. There is need for NOSDRA to develop a robust monitoring and evaluation system that would enable it to assess its progress on delivery of its mandate. Consequently as part of the strengthening NOSDRA should collect baseline data and develop modalities for periodic data collection for institutionalization of impact assessment and knowledge management.

This Communiqué was developed by the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter and the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) with contributions from the Expert Advisory Panel members of the NNRC; Mr. Odein Ajumogobia SAN, Dr. Ukoha Ukiwo, Ms. Lois Laraba Machunga-Disu, Mr. Osten Olorunsola, Mr. Tunji Lardner and Mr. Sam Daibo.

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