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Experts disagree with government over the reviews of EIA Act

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Experts have expressed discontent over the way and manner the federal government is articulating the 14 guidelines for the review of Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA Act.

They spoke at Validation Workshop on the reviewing Act, warned that the exercise should not be lopsided, void of political undertones so that the proposed amendments   will meet the yearning of Nigerians.

Some experts who talked with The Guardian, maintained, government seem to rush its proposed 15 sectoral guidelines, which three of them are component of environmental study, such as social, biophysical and health.

An Environmental Consultant, Linda Akpami, said there are certain areas that were neglected in the past, which must be corrected; otherwise, the review would be in futility as far as EIA Act is concerned.

“The government may have to revisit the issue of 500 hectares of land, which has been abused by executors of projects, adding, this important document is not for FCT, as some officials may think, but for the entire country”, she explained.

Akpami also submitted that there was no specification on the exercise, stressing that Nigeria may not really have the change that would stand a test of time as well as meet global emerging environmental issues.

Dr. John A. Harry, a Consultant Environmental Chemist, said EIA practice all over the world is a team activity, saying it is almost impossible to envisage a situation where single individual could adequately address the range of issues.

“Public sector EIA enforcement is low because government agencies do not respect the EIA regulatory agencies. They are regarding them as parallel governmental agencies that should be allowed to exercise powers over them,” he remarked.

He therefore, argued, we have seen various stakeholders, communities, local, international NGOs, even government rising to object to the draft EIA conducted for project and in fact rejecting three EIA’s already maybe because of the international dimension to the project.

Contributing, a Director in Ondo State Ministry of Environment, Mrs. Bola Akinyanmi, noted that there was no clear-cut statement on institutional framework that would conduct EIA in the country.

According to her, there should be no ambiguity in a situation where NGOs conduct the reports on projects without stakeholders and people, and then submit to government for the execution; it should be avoided.

To her, more public enlightenment should be carried out in where the project is located, adding,  “I am saying this based on the fact that many Nigerians do not know anything about EIA Act, talkless of knowing the new introduced guidelines.”

“Sincerity should be guiding word in the review exercise, which there must be a well defined rules, categorization of projects. These at times always bring disagreement during National Environment Council, NEC, meeting,” she added.

It would be recalled, immediate past Minister of Environment, Amina J.Mohammed, promised that government would make laws that would empower, and sensitize the people on the effects of climate change on environment sector.



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