The Sun Newspapers
Thursday, January 3, 2008

Over 1000 individuals from environmental, religious groups, local communities and academics from across the world have petitioned President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, urging him to ensure that gas flaring is brought to an end unequivocally by the first day of January, 2008.

The petition was delivered at the weekend by Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Executive Director, Nnimmo Bassey to Edo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Barrister Calus Enoma for onward delivery to the president. According to the petitioners, gas flaring descends a cocktail of poisons into the atmosphere. In the mix are carbon dioxide and methane that are major causes of global warming. Gas flaring causes acid rain which acidifies the lakes and streams and damages crops and vegetation. It reduces farm yields and affects human health, lives and livelihoods.
Further, they said gas flaring increases the risk of respiratory illnesses, asthma and cancer. It often causes painful breathing, chronic bronchitis, decreased lung function, body itching, blindness, impotency, miscarriages and premature deaths.

Recent media reports indicated that government may have bowed to pressure for another shift in the deadline of December 31, 2007. But the groups pointed out that since 1979, the multinational oil companies have simply ignored government deadlines and court orders to end gas flaring.

In his words: "Since gas flaring contributes to global warming and climate change crisis, it is of concern to citizens around the world. As fellow human beings, we also demand the end to suffering of the Niger Delta people whose lives, health and livelihoods are harmed for the benefit of greedy multinational corporations. These companies are now calling for a 2010 deadline, but this should be rejected outright. Calling for higher fines from defaulting oil corporations merely provides cover for the industry to continue an environmentally unacceptable activity. It may add money to your national coffers, but money cannot pay for the lives and dignity of the Niger Delta people," he added.

While receiving the petition, the commissioner lamented that the state health facilities have been overstretched due to ailments resulting from gas flaring, adding, "that the government is quite interested in the welfare and health of our people. I promise to pass the message to Governor Oserhiemen Osunbor who will in turn pass it on to President Musa Yar'Adua."
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