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Environment Ministry, NNPC clash over deforestation caused by kerosene, gas scarcity

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The rise in costs of kerosene and cooking gas in Nigeria in the past six months has impacted negatively on forestation programme of the country.

It has also led to officials of the Ministry of Environment and those of NNPC on a collusion course.

Ripples Nigeria learnt at the weekend that top officials of the ministry had raised alarm on how failure of the government-owned Oil company had violated the environmental guideline by failing to find solution to persistent scarcity of kerosene and cooking gas.

This is said to have forced many homes to fall back on charcoal and fire wood for cooking in the past six months that the products have risen in prices due to scarcity.

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The Environment Minister, Amina Mohammed, was said to have taken the latest report on forestation by the department in charge in her ministry to the Presidency for action.

But the report, which deeply indicted the NNPC,was said to have angered the corporation’s management, even as top officials washed their hands off the matter.

The management, it was gathered, was given a copy of the report to react on, but had directed such inquiry through the Ministry of Petroleum, its supervisory organ.

In the report, sighted by Ripples Nigeria, on Sunday, the gains of the past five years on sustaining green environment may have been lost by actions and inactions of some organisations and individuals, including government agencies.

It specifically states that ”Tree felling, and without replacement, is of a major concern here, but people resorting to firewood and charcoal as cooking fuel makes it an unending scenario.

“The later factor was avoidable had the relevant organs done what they expected of them.”

Also, the ending paragraph of the report specifically mentions some establishments including NNPC, oil majors and others as having failed to live up to the terms of preserving the environment.

However, it states that until there is availability of cooking gas and kerosene, in the country, “Nigeria will be losing about 55 per cent of its young forest,” while desert encroachment will take a wider dimension.

The ministry’s director of information, Ben Adacha, said the report is a regular review of the impact of human and industrial activities on the environment.

Despite the NNPC’s promise that it would commence refining of kerosene in two of its four refineries, consumers still complain of scarcity of the products in various part of the country.

Kerosene, formerly sold for N300 per litre has gone up to between N400 and N450 while a 12.5Kg cylinder of cooking gas formerly at N3, 500 has equally jumped to N5,000 with long queues wherever it is available.

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