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Agriculture, Health ministries to lose departments to Environment

Environmental Communication State governments have been asked to relocate the Forestry Department and other environment-related departments in Ministry of Agriculture, as well as the Environmental Health Department in their Health Ministries to the Ministries of Environment.

Environment Minister, Amina J. Mohammed (left) with Governor of Nasarawa State, Umaru Tanko Al-makura, during the 10th National Council on Environment (NCE10) last week in Lafia, Nasarawa State
Environment Minister, Amina J. Mohammed (left), with Governor of Nasarawa State, Umaru Tanko Al-makura, during the 10th National Council on Environment (NCE10) last week in Lafia, Nasarawa State

This directive formed one of several decisions arrived at the weeklong 10th National Council on Environment (NCE10) that held last week in Lafia, Nasarawa State.

Besides approving the re-introduction of the monthly National Environmental Sanitation exercise, the gathering, chaired by Environment Minister Amina J. Mohammed, urged states with increasing land degradation problems that requested for approval for funding of projects such as erosion control programmes and afforestation schemes that are not policy-driven, to embark on bilateral consultations with relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), including the Ecological Fund Office (EFO).

Apparently in line with the nation’s climate initiatives, the NCE10 approved programmes and projects that will help in the mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change such as adoption and implementation of the renewable energy master plan, promoting renewable energy programme in schools; as well as upgrading and repositioning climate change units in MDAs, and engaging the private sector in renewable energy programmes through public-private partnership (PPP) arrangements.

Similarly, approval was given to forestry development and afforestation programmes such as enrichment planting in forest reserves nationwide, promoting the use of alternative source of energy, suspension of further exportation of P t e r o c a p u s S p p in Taraba State in the interim, along with initiation and implementation of bamboo and rattan value chain development in the states.

Furthermore, the Council directed the 11 participating frontline states involved in the National Great Green Wall (NAGGW) initiative to strongly support the programme by providing adequate annual budgetary allocation, provision of land, enhancing community sensitisation and mobilisation, as well as technical support. States were likewise encouraged to fully participate in the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility Programme (EPR) nationwide.

Additionally, the Council:

  • approved installation of automated web-based flood early warning equipment in flood-prone communities nationwide, where there is none presently;
  • approved the implementation of national requirements and guidelines on registration of environment-friendly products and eco-labeling and encouraged manufacturing companies to buy into the scheme; and,
  • urged the Federal Ministry of Environment to develop national guideline/regulations on efficient management of spent oil in the country and pilot schemes in six geo-political zones.

The NCE10, themed: “Environment and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria: Empowering people, taking climate action and protecting the environment,” was preceded by the National Technical Committee session which was chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Environment, Dr. Bukar Hassan, with Permanent Secretaries of State Ministries of Environment, civil society organisation (CSOs) and other delegates from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Minister of Environment, Amina J. Mohammed, in the company of the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril, and other dignitaries paid a courtesy call on the Governor of Nasarawa State, Umaru Tanko Al-makura, and Alhaji (Dr.) Isa Mustapha Agwai I, the Emir of Lafia and Chairman, as well as Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs. A key outcome of the courtesy call was the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Federal Ministry of Environment and the Government of Nasarawa State.

The opening session, which was declared open by Governor Al-makura, featured presentation of welcome address by the Nasarawa State Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, Gabriel Ortan Aka’aka, as well as goodwill messages by the Country Directors of the United Nations Development Programme (NDP) and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO); representative of CSOs; Chairman of Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs; the Emir of Lafia; and Chairman, House Committee on Environment/Culture and Tourism, Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Ibrahim  Bala.

The session also featured a presentation on Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) for sustainable environmental management by Alhaji Jibril Usman (Environment Minister of State) and an opening address by Amina Mohammed, wherein she reiterated the importance of SDGs in achieving the environment sector objectives and the integration of the key issues encapsulated in the change agenda. She commended EnviroNews Nigeria as well as Connected Development for their outstanding role in environmental communication, awareness raising and advocacy, as well as open engagement in eco-governance. The opening session was rounded off with a keynote address by Governor Al-makura.

The opening ceremony was followed by the Council Meeting, during which the report of the Technical Segment was deliberated upon and decisions were taken. The Technical Committee considered 106 memoranda, stepped down 25, and recommended 81 consisting of 52 action and 29 information memoranda respectively for Council’s approval. These memoranda were submitted by the Federal and State Ministries of Environment/Agencies, NGOs/CSOs.

Council deliberated extensively on all the memos and noted:

  • The need to increase awareness on the issues of climate change;
  • Nigeria INDC to reduce GHG emission and the implementation of programmes and projects to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change;
  • The growing/increasing problems of land degradation and deforestation and the need for sustainable management solutions to address these issues;
  • The menace of poor solid waste management and sanitation as well as other environmental pollution issues including spent oil;
  • Environmental governance issues such as the review of NPC and others existing policies, laws and regulating frameworks to address emerging global trends and international best practices;
  • Council agreed that issues related to regulations for support will best be handled through bilateral consultations; and,
  • Council reminded members that memos coming to Council should only be policy memos.

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