Nigerian lawmakers have set a December deadline to end decades of gas flaring that experts blame for environmental destruction in theNiger Delta. Environmental degradation is a major reason for the violence by militants fighting for the development of the region.
Mike Karikpo is programs manager for Energy and Climate Change for the group Environmental Rights Action Friends of the Earth Nigeria. He says the lawmakers have now sided with the people instead of the oil companies.
"I am fully in support of the Senate in the Nigerian National Assembly. I think that finally they have come around to understanding the pains of our communities and the unquantifiable losses we have suffered as a people and as a nation over the last 50 years. And I think that it is important that we utilize legislative instruments to effect positive changes in our nation.
"Major oil firms are already busy pushing for an extension of the December deadline. And Karikpo acknowledges that getting rid of the practice of gas flaring will not be easy. "I don't think it will practically stop in December, just like [fixing an electrical appliance] in our home here. (But) I think it sends a clear message to the oil companies that you can't go beyond this point and for that I'm grateful to the National Assembly.
"I think that as far as possible, they should go through the processes of passing the bill and [sending it] to the president for his assent immediately. I think the message is clear: the political will that we have cried about -- that the Nigerian nation, the Nigerian government lacks the political will to effectively tackle gas flaring -- we can now see that they have somehow found the political will to do what is right. Let's not miss that point. This is the right thing, this is the legal thing, this is the absolute desire of our people."