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Edo (2012) observes that enforcing environmental laws should be an elaborate process, which should have enough relevant authorities to monitor compliance. This observation stems from studies that show that the lack of adequate numbers of authorities could undermine compliance standards (Cleaver 2001). Indeed, as Edo (2012) observes, compliance standards are bound to suffer from institutional failures if the subjects of the compliance laws could successfully challenge the authorities mandated to enforce the laws in the first place. Environmental agencies could solve many compliance issues, such as inadequate access to company records and documents, by allowing authorities to scrutinize confidential company records (Cleaver 2001). For example, if an oil company could prevent an environmental agency from accessing its company books, it would be difficult for the agency to know if the company complies with existing environmental laws. It is also important to ensure that these environmental agencies can take legal action against companies that violate the laws (Cleaver 2001). At the same time, an institutional framework should outline the roles and duties of each environmental agency in the compliance process (Cleaver 2001). Without such a framework, it would be difficult for oil companies to know which environmental agency is responsible for making sure they comply with each of the various environmental laws. Based on the instrumental roles played by institutions in managing the ecological crisis in the Niger Delta, it is pertinent to understand the roles and characteristics of institutions/agencies in the Niger delta region.

2.1.1 Federal Ministry of Environment

The study will also focus on the ministry and its effectiveness. The Federal Ministry of Environment operates at the national level. It is the ministerial body mandated to legislate and supervise the implementation of environmental laws in the Niger Delta region and other parts of the country (Ngoran 2011). Resource management and supervision of key agencies are fundamental duties of the ministry (Ngoran 2011).

2.1.2 National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA)

The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) is the main federally appointed agency mandated to manage oil spills in the Niger Delta (Ngoran 2011). It was founded in 2006 to implement the government’s National Oil spill Contingency plan, which is the government’s blueprint to manage oil-spills through spill containment, environmental recovery and environmental restoration. This body undertakes its duties in line with international standards for oil spill management and as stipulated by the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness (Ngoran 2011). So far, it has intensified efforts to improve compliance with existing laws and regulations governing oil management in Nigeria. It has also been championing the use of environmentally friendly drilling equipment that would not have a high carbon footprint (Wantchekon 2002).

2.1.3 Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)

In 2000, the Nigerian government created the Niger Delta Development Commission to minimise oil spill incidents in the region (especially those that occur from vandalism) (Ngoran 2011). The agency has since promoted pre-emptive measures to control oil spills in the region (Wantchekon 2002). For example, through its inception, the country made the first complete assessment of the delta, in lieu of efforts to improve the physical and socioeconomic development of the region (Ngoran 2011). The purpose of this assessment was to prepare plans to improve the physical development of the region. Other functions of the Niger Delta Development Commission include identifying factors that impede the development of the region, assessing and reporting economic activities undertaken by oil companies in the delta, managing ecological and environmental problems arising in the delta and liaising with oil companies in the region to reduce incidents of pollution and exploitation in the delta (Ngoran 2011). Most of the commission’s roles concern oil exploration and production. They are part of the commission’s plan to manage all forms of pollution in the delta region. Comparatively, while NOSDRA mainly focuses on preventing ecological crises that come from oil spills, NDDC focuses on mitigating ecological crises that emerge from vandalism. Beneath these two organisations, different states have industry-specific environmental agencies (Ngoran 2011). The following diagram depicts this fact

Federal Ministry of Environment
NOSDRA
NDDC

 

State and industry-specific environmental agencies

2.2 Legislation

Wantchekon (2002) observes that, as part of policing environmental management in the Niger delta region, the Nigerian government has to have the right laws and regulations in place. The Nigerian Federal Environmental Protection Agency was created to oversee many petroleum related laws and regulations that govern the activities of industry players in the oil industry. Some of these laws include the endangered Species Decree Cap 108 LFN 1990, Mineral Oil (Safety) Regulations, 1963, and the harmful Waste Cap 165 LFN 1990 (Ngoran 2011). Besides these laws, existing conventions support their implementation. They include the Convention on the Prevention of Marine pollution Damage, 1972, and the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage, 1971” (Ngoran 2011).

One of the most important laws in the context of this study is the Oil Pollution Act. Experts, such as Cleaver (2001) and Wantchekon (2002) attribute Nigeria’s dismal response to oil spills to the poor implementation of this Act. The Act outlines specific measures, which government bodies and oil corporations should take when oil spills occur (Ngoran 2011). Assessing the implementation of this Act will be crucial in the study. For example, it outlines how health authorities and environmental agencies should evacuate communities. Similarly, it explains the role of oil stakeholders in cleaning such spills. Therefore, the Act covers different aspects of oil spill management, such as oil spill prevention, mitigation, and clean-up. The government introduced it to reduce the number of oil spills in the Niger delta region (Wantchekon 2002). A critical part of this legislation was to make sure that the state has enough financial resources to manage oil spills and compensate local communities affected by such incidents (Smith 2004). For example, the legislation complemented environmental financial resource management plans. There were also provisions to make sure that the federal government has adequate technical expertise for managing oil spills when they occur. This recommendation aligns with auxiliary measures to make sure that industry players

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