By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) ,said the Senate ,House committees has backed the agency’s new impact plan for environm to improve environmental governance in Nigeria.
The Retreat, which is the 5th in the series and tagged “Driving Operational Performance”, was In his welcome address, the Director-General/CEO, Dr Lawrence Chidi Anukam disclosed that this year’s Retreat is intended to afford management staff across board the opportunity to deliberate, dialogue, and also review performance and trends as well as discuss and agree on action plan in relation to the Agency’s policy direction and improved job performance.
Dr Anukam explained that at the end of the Retreat, Management staff was expected not only to be in position to develop and produce a strategic Impact Plan for the next 5 years but also to fine-tune their leadership skills.
He stated that since inception, NESREA has developed 34 National Environmental Regulations and now has presence in 24 States of the Federation. “It is hoped that 3 more will come on board as soon as possible”, he further stated.
Speaking at the occasion during the opening ceremony, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment decried the precarious situation of Nigeria’s development, heightened by population growth, economic activities and the resulting degradation and pollution. “If we must develop economically as a nation, we must also ensure that our development is in harmony with nature”, she declared, adding that “This is the essence of sustainable development”.
The Committee Chairman on Environment insisted that since NESREA was established to enforce environmental laws, regulations and standards, there was need for robust and enforceable laws and regulations, plus an adequate enforcement infrastructure such as institutional strengthening and human resources development as well as provision for logistics.
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Director-General/CEO, Sule Oyofo,said, Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi in his remarks praised the Management of the Agency for putting together a retreat of this nature. Though, he argued that the task ahead was enormous he expressed the hope that the outcome will be implemented to achieve the mandate of the Agency.
Senator Humkuyi reiterated the support of his Committee towards the Agency’s pursuit of environmental best practices.
Consequently, the House Committee Chairman on Environment and Habitat, Hon. Obinna Chidoka revealed that since NESREA is by law, charged with the enforcement of all environmental laws and regulations except for the oil and gas sector, recognition of the Agency’s mandate and appreciation of the limitations in the NESREA Establishment Act,
convinced them to pass the NESREA Amendment Bill on the 14th of February, 2018.
Chidoka stated that when assented to by the President and Commander-in-Chief, NESREA Mandate would have been reinforced to make it more effective and efficient.
Drawing the attention of the audience to the Port Harcourt “Soot” incidence, He opined that the remote and immediate causes may not be discovered unless the episode is treated as a “National Emergency”.
He stressed the need for all stakeholders to work together to find a lasting solution to the pollution episodes in Port Harcourt and environs.
The Chairman said his Committee had noticed during oversight visits what he called substantial negligence and non compliance of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act and therefore challenged all the Regulatory Agencies to step up actions against defaulters to curb this unsavory inclination. “The preservation and protection of our waters, lands and air are our collective responsibility”, he stated.
The development of the 5 year Impact Plan is expected to help the Agency inject fresh ideas and chart a new course that would lead to sustainable development and environmental protection, particularly in the area of compliance, monitoring and enforcement.