The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, has welcomed the decision of the Nigerian government to import only fuels with a reduced sulphur content of 50ppm, in agreement with the recommendations agreed upon at a high-level ministerial meeting in Abuja, and called on the Federal government as well to immediately publish a gazetted policy statement articulating the new policy on importation of fuel.
The call which was made by ANEEJ executive director, Rev David Ugolor has come on the heels of the high level ministerial meeting organised by the collaborative effort of both the governments of Nigeria and the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, ECOWAS, Climate and Clean Air Coalition, and the Partnership for Clean Air and Vehicles, PCFV, held on December 1, 2016. At that meeting 5 West African countries agreed to introduce fuel standards of 50 ppm standards for import waiver for refineries by 2020 and will work on vehicle emission standards.
“To effectively bring home the commitment of the Nigerian government to abide by the recommendations as adopted at the high-level meeting, ANEEJ commends that a policy announcement made by the Nigerian government publicly will strengthen her commitment to the principle of Open Governance Partnership (OGP). We applaud the initiative of both the Nigerian and Ghanaian governments for providing leadership which will help ECOWAS countries to transit from the importation of Dirty to Clean Fuels in the West Africa region,” Rev Ugolor stressed in his statement.
The need to reduce the Sulphur-content of fuels being imported into West Africa from Europe and other countries has become pertinent from a report published by a Swiss NGO, Public Eye, together with that published by the World Health Organization, WHO, which has said that four key Nigerian cities which rely on these high sulphur fuels are Aba, Umuahia, Kaduna and Onitsha and they are among the worst air polluted cities anywhere in the world.
In November, Ghanaian Civil Society made a symbolic gesture of sending back jerry cans filled with polluted air to Antwerp, and announced that it was no longer going to accept dirty fuels. WHO has announced several cases of asthma, bronchitis, cancer and lung-related ailments in the densely populated urban areas of West Africa with high-sulphur fuels.
“As the multi-stakeholders meeting on clean fuels scheduled for the Netherlands on December 5th2016 commences, we are delighted that it provides a vista for both African countries and the Dutch government, together with the EU countries where these dirty fuels are being produced to join forces to end dirty fuels in Africa once and for all,” the Rev Ugolor said in his statement.