The Minister of Environment, Suleiman Hassan Zarma, has appealed for improved budgetary allocation to the environmental sector to facilitate the execution of more intervention programmes and projects for diverse ecological habitats across the country.
He noted that additional budgetary funds would also enable the ministry carry out some of its core mandate effectively, saying: “Sufficient allocation of funds to the ministry will help us raise the level of environmental consciousness in the mind of Nigerians, while implementing best global practices to address environmental issues.”
The Minister made the call in Abuja while defending the Ministry’s 2019 budget estimate before the House of Representatives Committee on Environment and Habitat.
Zarma stressed that inadequate budgetary provision is hindering the successful implementation of key projects and ecology-preservation initiatives conceptualised by the Ministry.
He explained that the problems of desertification, erosion, and pollution, among others, would continue to ravage Nigeria’s vast environment if adequate funds are not provided to the Ministry and its agencies.
Presenting the 2019 Budget estimate to the Committee, Zarma explained that the environment pillar was hinged on three basic policy objectives that include National Environment Management, Pollution Control, Waste to Wealth, Industrial Oil Management and Climate Change adaptation.
In this connection, he said: “The 2019 Budget Estimate that is before the National Assembly consists of programmes and projects that are in line with the ERGP goals. As a matter of fact, the Ministry is among the six line ministries, and its projects, which are spread across the country, are critical to the life of the citizenry.”
He added that the Ministry’s “2019 Budget of Economic Recovery and Growth”, if properly funded and executed, would reposition the environment, strengthen regulatory environment, create decent jobs and livelihoods, increase forest cover, promote renewable energy initiatives and support the Ogoniland cleanup exercise.
Zarma also appealed to the Committee to passionately look at the disturbing issue of inadequate office accommodation affecting the workings of the ministry and its agencies, saying “almost all of us are working in either borrowed or rented buildings”.
Responding, the House Committee on Environment’s Chairman, Obinna Chidoka, supported the call for the Ministry to be given better allocation in the 2019 budget.
“The envelope of the Ministry is too lean to enable it meaningful impact on our environment that is highly ravaged and devastated. We must look for ways to increase the funding of this important sector,” he emphasised.
Chidoka disclosed that some experts within the sector are doing great works to address severe problems affecting the environment, hence they should be supported and appreciated by both government and relevant stakeholders. Earlier, the Heads of Agencies and Parastatals under the Ministry, while making their presentations, bemoaned the lean budgets they got in the past, soliciting the lawmakers’ intervention to remedy the ugly situation.