The Federal Government has commended the effort of the Ekiti State Government at mitigating the impact of project activities on the environment and the socio-economic lives of the people.
Mr Mohammed Abdullahi, the Minister for Environment, gave the commendation in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, at a three-day panel review meeting of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) reports on Ekiti Cargo Airport, Ado-Akure dualised Road and the Ekiti State Knowledge Zone projects.
The minister, represented by a deputy director in the ministry, Mr Musa Gashua, lauded the government for complying with the National Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act and other extant environmental laws and regulations.
He particularly praised the state government for the execution of developmental projects as one of the steps in addressing probable future and immediate environmental challenges caused by project activities.
Abdullahi explained that the provisions of EIA Act CAP E12 LFN 2004 mandated proponents of major developmental activities in the country to carry out environmental and social impact assessment of all proposed projects.
Commenting on the ESIA reports on the three projects, the minister stressed the need for other state governments to embrace environmental and social impact assessment of projects to expose the environmental problems, social challenges and other negative impacts that come with project activities.
Abdullahi noted with displeasure that the neglect of such assessment reports was responsible for environmental degradation, pollution and some of the severe natural disasters such as flooding, erosion, landslides and some others experienced in the country.
He also disclosed that the panel review meetings between the three tiers of government and other critical stakeholders would enhance public participation and contributions in ensuring that the projects were executed at the highest level of environmental and social sustainability.
“The projects are a welcome development; it would open up a lot of businesses but at the same time needs to be planned very well so that the environmental components are factored in to ensure that these projects when completed would not jeopardise the provisions of EIA Act CAP E12 LFN 2004 and other extant laws of the country.
“This EIA report will go through the scrutiny of experts and regulators to make sure that the EIA complies with global best practices.
“We have done the assessment, we have been to the project sites, we have seen the presentation. I am satisfied with the reports, they have met the minimum requirements and are good to go,” the minister said.
Speaking, Mr Akinyemi Akinyugha, an adviser to the state government on environment matters, said that the health, safety and wellbeing of the people of Ekiti were paramount, hence the prioritisation of the conduct of ESIA of the projects.
He noted the state government’s commitment to the implementation of the recommendations during and after execution of the projects.
“The state government is very intentional in executing its development plan in the most environmentally friendly approach possible.
“Not only are these projects designed to promote the economic development of the state but also to promote sustainable social inclusion by opening up new frontiers of growth for the state.
“The state is taking full advantage of its strategic location as a gateway to the north and the south of the country and its proximity to Lagos in developing its potential in agro-business and knowledge economy,” Dr Akinyugha said.
The commendation from the Federal Government has again brought to light the determination of the Ekiti government to implement projects that will benefit the people without distorting or causing environmental imbalance.
Some of the environmental issues looked into during the review meeting included exploitation of lands, forest degradation, extinction of endangered species, habitat fragmentation and relocation plans.
Others were liquefaction, biodiversity impacts, waste management, compensation, ground water impacts, social and economic impacts, operational phase and impacts and mitigation measures.
The panel comprised representatives of the Federal Ministry of Environment, Ekiti State Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, benefitting local government councils, environmentalists, relevant regulatory bodies, ecology, geography and socio-economic experts.
By Yinusa Ishola