Experts set agenda for Buhari government on environment
Civil society groups and experts have examined the Buhari administration’s four years’ of environmental stewardship, saying that much needs to be done in the protection of the natural resources through conservation and sustainable practices.
They believe that the Federal Government scored major point in the United Nations Environment Programme report and clean up of the Ogoniland, and pushing for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in the superhighway project in Cross River State.
The Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nnimmo Bassey told The Guardian that the process for the EIA was strictly implemented and the promoters were committed to it. “ This aspect of EIA is a plus in which we have not seen in any other administration,” he said.
However, he argued that there is no baseline for assessment of the environment sector. According to him, without that, it will be difficult to assess the government yearly or on regular intervals in terms of air pollution and water.
“People are not warned on the type of air they breathe and we still have contaminated site and oil spills. We don’t see serious sanctions on the oil companies,” he added.
The, Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, said despite the clean up of Ogoni touted as an environmental legacy project, the government scored near zero for its poor environmental protection record.
“There is a lack of an acceptable key performance indicators for the clean up. Although 16 contractors have been reportedly mobilized to site in December 2018, the key performance indicators have not been made public by Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) indicating a lack of transparency and accountability of the process.
“The clean up contract awards have been corrupted as political patronage for politicians to enrich themselves at the detriment of the poor impacted victims of the oil and gas pollution.
“Nigeria lacks a holistic approach to environmental protection and sustainable development. It has failed to put in place a National Environmental Action Plan that will specify a framework of action to deliver on set national targets measured by clear indicators on an annual basis,” he said.
Dr. Ojo stressed that government should properly clean up Ogoni, restore public confidence and redeem its dented image as well as put in place a framework for the clean up of the oil polluted Niger Delta that has been the source of protests and violent conflicts.
He added: “As a conflict resolution mechanism, the federal government should delineate the Niger Delta as ecological disaster area and declare environmental state of emergency to focus on the Niger Delta and end gas flaring.”
Bassey urged the government to conduct an environmental audit of the country and put in place a comprehensive drainage master plan to tackle recurring flooding as well as an integrated solid waste management system.
South East Outreach and Communication Adviser, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Paddy Ezeala said, tougher measures should be put in place to checkmate wanton emission of noxious and deleterious gases through gas flaring and use of outdated machines.
He also advised that electricity challenges should be addressed to minimise the use of power generating sets that emit harmful environmental pollutants, including nitrogen oxide, currently the single most important ozone-depleting emission.