By Patrick Andrew
National Conference Committee on Environment has recommended increase of the ecological fund from the present three percent to five.
The committee said its recommendation was borne out of its observation that the fund is being used for political ends rather than for addressing real ecological problems being faced by several parts of the country.
“For now, the ecological fund is more or less a political fund. We have recommended that it should be raised from the current 3percent to 5percent,” Senator Florence Ita-Giwa said.
Also, delegates from the former areas known as Bakassi have demanded for compensation from the Federal Government for the displaced the people of Bakassi peninsula who were displaced in Cross River State, following the ceding of the area to Cameroon.
The Conference committee on Environment, chaired by Senator Florence Ita-Giwa made the recommendation that the people should be compensated for the loss of their natural resources and other artifacts.
According to them, such compensation should be paid directly to the affected communities and not to the state governments.
Senator Ita-Giwa, who is from the area said: “I am going to give you some highlights of what the committee agreed on. We agreed on the need for Nigeria to protect its territorial environment. We agreed on the need for the federal government to establish environmental courts.
“Hitherto, Nigeria had been very careless with this issue. We need to have a law on gas flaring and also an institution that deals with issues like that. Even the issue of waste was agreed. There will be a court that will try you on that. It can be atomic or industrial waste. There should be a special court for that.
“We also emphasised on the rights of Nigerians to own and manage their resources. We know that some people might want to make an issue out of it. Once you talk about natural resources, Nigerians think it’s all about oil.
“Nigerians should have the rights to manage their resources. For instance, forestry. These are the areas the committee tried to highlight on. You will hear about the issue of oil spilage when we present the report during plenary.
“We have addressed the need to compensate the people of Bakassi adequately for loss of their natural resources. Those displaced from Bakassi should be well resettled and fully compensated for the loss of their natural resources and other artifacts.
“The compensation includes money too. That is a vital componenent of the compensation. We are asking that individuals should be compensated and not the government. Even it goes to the state government, they must ensure that it gets to the people of Bakassi.”