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Federal Government mulls green economy, files lawsuit against superhighway project

By Alifa Daniel and Cornelius Essen   |   03 October 2016   |   1:19 am

Hajiya Amina Mohammed

Hajiya Amina Mohammed

Faced with harsh financial realities, the Federal Government is exploring the environment sector to increase its gross domestic product, and get the youth fruitfully engaged.
The Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, who made this known at a quarterly dialogue with journalists in Abuja, listed the crops billed for exploitation by government using citizens from all walks of life as acacia, shea butter, neem, Melina tree, rosewood tree, palm tree, the date palm, jatropha, velvetia grass.
She disclosed that government was working on a policy to green in its transportation process as well as formulate a policy on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) that would protect the Nigerian farmer and homegrown seeds.
According to her, the ministry would be elaborating on efforts made in the past on the 10 shrubs, places and types of soil they can be grown on, how to start and scale up the development of the shrubs over a period of five years.
As a first step, she disclosed, the government is picking on the Jatropha plant, which shows promise of bio fuel. She said: “The Jatropha Value Chain project is being proposed as a means not only for the successful production of a viable green alternative to fossil fuels, but also of providing an additional means of livelihood for local communities that are losing ground water and vegetation every year due to desertification.
“The project will create an avenue for the diversification of the Nigerian economy through empowering people, taking climate action to fight desertification as well as reducing poverty, thus enhancing socio-economic growth across the country. It will be integrated into the afforestation programmes of the ministry in partnership with the State Governments and relevant MDAs. This will be preceded by sustained advocacy visits by the Hon. Minister of Environment to secure the commitment of the States.”
This approach, she added, will lead to rapid creation of a New Green Economy in the rural areas thereby crating jobs and wealth from the cultivation of Jatropha and its value chain.
This, she said, will result in the establishment of an African Clean Energy Hub in Nigeria; Jatropha also has potential to Impact on the five key elements of the COP 21 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.
“Jatropha has been identified by the Nigerian Bio-fuel Policy and Incentives 2007 as the most preferred non-food plant for bio-fuel feedstock for production in the country. This Policy as well as the NNPC’s Renewable Energy Division were set out to link the agriculture and energy sectors and promote job creation, technology acquisition attract foreign investment in the bio-fuels industry,” she announced.
She noted that the project is being proposed with the support of local and international experts to ensue that it meets the standards of international sustainability protocols adding that its success will depend largely on the support of the Federal and State Governments, spearheaded by Federal Ministry of Environment she added. 
Meanwhile, the minister of State Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibrin, stated that there are many issues relating to the proposed Superhighway that need to be resolved between the federal, Cross River State and indigenes before the commencement of the project.
Jibrin who disclosed while answering question, said the issue surrounding Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, has not been resolved,” the government would conduct public hearing before any action is taking on the mega highway there.”
He further explained that the ministry has met with the Governor on several issues and thoroughly studied documents, emphasized that any project of such magnitude both federal and state have their responsibilities to carry out.
He therefore, hinted that the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Agency, NESRA, has filed a case in the court challenging the state government on the Superhighway project and over 4,000 people have protested on the matter. 
Talking on the proposed Jatropha Value Chain Project, the minister said it is not only for the successful production of a viable green alternative to fossil fuels but also to provide additional means of livelihood for communities that are losing ground water and vegetation to desertification.
“The project will create an avenue for diversification of Nigeria’s economy, empower people, take climate action to fight drought as well as reducing poverty and enhancing socio-economic growth across the country; the approach would lead to rapid creation of anew Green Economy in the rural areas,” he remarked.

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Mrs. Amina Mohammed

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