The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has lauded President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for enactment of environmental friendly laws and policies.
The group’s Executive Director, Dr Chima Williams, who disclosed this in an interview on Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Lagos, said Buhari’s administration should be commended for enacting the friendly environmental policies .
“The outgoing administration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s environmental protection footprints in the past eight years can be evaluated under two categories i.e. policies and legislations.
“Within the past eight years of the outgoing administration, it has achieved some milestones in the area of legislations and policies for the protection of the Nigerian environment.
“The above assertion is premised on some of the practical steps taken by the outgoing administration from the beginning of their tenure.
“In September 2016 President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Paris Agreement, where he committed Nigeria to reducing GreenHouse Gas Emissions unconditionally by 20 per cent and conditionally by 45 per cent in line with Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions,” Williams said.
He also commended the outgoing administration for adopting the Economic Recovery & Growth Plan 2017-2020.
“In 2017, the Federal Government adopted the Economic Recovery & Growth Plan 2017-2020 which, among other things, stated the position of the government on how to raise resources from the otherwise wasted associated gas through flaring by petroleum industry players.
“This further reduced the hazardous impacts of gas flaring and increase the revenue base for the nation.
“In 2021, the President also signed into law the Nigerian Climate Change Act 2021 which provides the strategic focus of Nigeria in combating climate change and the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 whose long and unenviable history is in the public domain.
“The passage of these laws with environmental protection provisions were positive acts by outgoing administration in the area of environmental protection and preservation within the years under review,” he said.
Williams, however, noted the outgoing administration did not achieve much in practical protection of the environment.
“Although the outgoing administration fared well in environmental protection policies and legislations, the same cannot be said of the practical protection of the Nigerian environment.
“In the Implementation of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), in most of the rehabilitation and construction of roads and railways by the outgoing administration, there were no consultations with the local residents through whose communities these will pass through.
“In environmental disaster management and handling profile, the outgoing government at all levels showed lack of capacity to handle environmental disasters.
“From the flood disasters to the gas explosions, oil spills and pipeline explosions to ship wrecks and explosions, it was almost the same story of both lack of capacity to either contain or mitigate them,” he said.
“The outgoing administration showed energy towards the clean up of Ogoniland when that was flagged off in 2016 but looking back almost seven years down the line, not so much has been achieved.
“No mention was made by the outgoing administration on the call for a comprehensive environmental audit of the Niger Delta to determine first the level of pollution within the region.
“Also, there were no proposed mechanisms and processes for the recovery and restoration of the environment, citizens’ livelihoods and health,” he added.
Williams, therefore, called on the incoming administration to look at the lacunas and fill them up.
By Mercy Omoike and Oluwatope Lawanson