EN­VI­RON­MENT FG too over­bear­ing on is­sues of en­vi­ron­ment – NES

Olu An­dah Wai-Ogosu

Daily Trust - - ENVIRONMENT - By Alex Abutu & Chidimma C. Okeke

is the Na­tional Pres­i­dent of the Nige­rian En­vi­ron­men­tal So­ci­ety (NES) and a del­e­gate at the on­go­ing Na­tional Con­fer­ence. In this in­ter­view, he dis­cusses some of the en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems plagu­ing Nigeria and prof­fers so­lu­tion on the way for­ward. Ex­cerpts:

are the cur­rent en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues af­fect­ing Nigeria presently?

we have episodes, we visit places like the flood of 2012, we vis­ited af­fected com­mu­ni­ties to ed­u­cate them on how to re­duce the im­pact of haz­ards, we do ad­vo­cacy, and also in Bayelsa, in 2012, we vis­ited the people where wa­ter be­came a prob­lem. And also in Ogoni, six years be­fore, UNEP came in and we were there with ad­vo­cacy and fact find­ing to high­light the prob­lems there.

What yard­stick does the so­ci­ety use to mea­sure the im­pact of its ac­tiv­i­ties in these ar­eas?

All the branches I men­tioned ear­lier sub­mit re­ports to the na­tional body of NES and we re­late with other or­gan­i­sa­tions to have a feel of our per­for­mance. And don’t for­get, we are down at the grass­roots and have pe­ri­odic en­vi­ron­men­tal cam­paign where we have con­tact with the people. There is high level of aware­ness among people when it comes to en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, any­way. In some ar­eas when you go there, you have to in­ter­act with the youths or their lead­ers there.

But do you agree that there are over­lap­ping func­tions from agencies like NESREA, NOSDRA etc?

Yes, there are over­lap­ping func­tions in min­istries, de­part­ments and agencies re­sult­ing in con­flict in man­date where you have two, three agencies dis­charg­ing a sim­i­lar func­tion and that is a prob­lem. But we don’t have prob­lem with NGOs who are our part­ners.

What is the so­lu­tion?

We have to look at the con­sti­tu­tion and fine tune ar­eas in the con­cur­rent and exclusive list and, sec­ondly, the Federal Govern­ment is too over­bear­ing when it comes to is­sues of en­vi­ron­ment, it should only con­cern it­self with pol­icy and reg­u­la­tion and en­force­ment, but are they well equipped in terms of ca­pac­ity and in­fra­struc­ture, no. The so­lu­tion lies in de­vo­lu­tion of power, weaken the cen­tre so that other arms could be more func­tional or we could pool all of these into one body like an En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency.

As a mem­ber of the na­tional con­fer­ence, how do you in­tend to use the plat­form in tack­ling the en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues?

Like I said, the en­vi­ron­ment has been bat­tled from the north to the south and any dam­age done to the en­vi­ron­ment af­fects health, ed­u­ca­tion, agri­cul­ture, not to talk of po­lit­i­cal cri­sis. So we will use the con­fab to drum home the fact that we are fac­ing a ma­jor eco­log­i­cal cri­sis and if we don’t look at how we man­age it, we may not have the de­sired en­vi­ron­ment in the next few decades. The sea­sonal flood­ing we have, our at­ti­tude to sur­face wa­ter, we will use the medium to draw at­ten­tion to these, in­clud­ing ground wa­ter. Be­cause of pop­u­la­tion in Kaduna, River Rima is al­most gone; we are go­ing to sug­gest the way for­ward. The struc­ture of govern­ment, is it fa­vor­able to the en­vi­ron­ment? No, so we will look at that too. Our po­si­tion paper will be made avail­able to all the del­e­gates.

Do you think the con­fer­ence will make any im­pact at the end?

We have seen that kind of sce­nario. Other con­fer­ences have held in the past, but have their out­comes been im­ple­mented? In my opin­ion, what comes of the con­fer­ence, if we do not im­ple­ment it, we will not leave any­thing for fu­ture gen­er­a­tion.

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