NCE: FG Calls For Consistency In Tackling Environmental Challenges

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…Lists environmental conservation gains

The Minister of State for Environment, Barr. Sharon Ikeazor (eighth from left) flanked by dignitaries at the National Council on Environment meeting in Abuja.

The Federal Government has called for consistency in tackling climate change, deforestation, desert encroachment, loss of biodiversity, flood and erosion, environmental pollution, amongst others if Nigeria must realise her environmental dreams.

The Minister of State for Environment, Barr. Sharon Ikeazor, made this call during the final day of the three-day 15th National Council on Environment (NCE), themed “Appraisal of the emerging challenges and the opportunities in the environment sector: A call for actions towards the environment of our dream” today (October 22) in Abuja.

Listing some of the government’s interventions in conserving the environment, Ikeazor said the ministry has developed strategies along the nine priority areas outlined by the current administration to build a thriving and sustainable economy, enhance social inclusion and reduce poverty, enlarge agricultural output for food security and export.

Others are the attaining of energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products and expansion of transport and other infrastructural development to achieve agriculture and food security and ensure energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products through targeted actions.

“In fulfilling this mandate, the ministry is accelerating the implementation of the Ogoni Clean-up through the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP). So far,15.3 hectares of polluted land have been reclaimed for agricultural activities in Ogoniland. Also ongoing is the construction of six water supply schemes with a capacity to supply 2400 cubic meters (m3) of potable water per day to communities across the four local government areas which make up Ogoniland.

“Furthermore, the ministry is also accelerating the implementation of the Great Green Wall Programme, through the National Agency for the Great Green Wall (NAGGW), established principally to reverse land degradation and desertification by supporting local communities in the sustainable management and use of natural resources to reduce poverty, enhance food security and promote sustainable livelihood. The agency has cumulatively increased the total average of arable land recovered from a baseline of 90 hectares in 2019 to 4,792 hectares by the second quarter of 2021. It has also increased the number of trees (orchards and woodlots) planted 1,080,000to 5,612,400.

“In the same vein, the Federal Department of Forestry and Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN) has also increased the vegetation cover from the baseline of 155,200 trees in 2019 to 635,840 by the second quarter of 2021,” she stated.

The minister also said the ministry has actively collaborated with the private sector to create a large number of well-paying jobs for Nigerian youths, adding that the ministry has been able to create over 74,413 direct and indirect jobs through the implementation of various people-oriented projects and programmes as of the second quarter (Q2) of 2021.

According to her, over 25,263 persons classified as the rural and poorest of the poor have received various livelihood enhancement training and support and have gone ahead to make decent living for themselves.

In his remarks, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Bello, pointed out that matters concerning the environment have occupied the front burner of national and global discourse in recent times especially as the consequences of environmental degradation and climate change are becoming more evident.

He described the theme of the council meeting as apt, even as he underscored the need for Nigeria to take stock of current environmental issues and evaluate the challenges and opportunities embedded in them to chart the best ways forward in ensuring sustainable human and social development.

“We expect that the National Council on Environment will provide the policy guidance to cushion the negative impact of climate change and adverse environmental conditions while also galvanising the citizenry into making the changes necessary to avoid the worst,” he added.

In his goodwill message, the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, averred that it is common knowledge to observe the declining trend in the environment due to industrial activities, hence the need to find a balance.

Represented by Mrs. Affiong Akpasubi, Kyari pointed out an immediate obligation is to ensure that Nigeria, through the National Council on Environment continues to enact measures that address national environment issues.

Earlier, the country representative and regional director of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) regional office hub, Mr. Jean Bakole, said government through the leadership of the environment ministry has been putting in place several policies, guidelines and structures in addressing some of the environmental challenges bedevilling the nation, even as he maintained that more needs to be done.

Represented by an environment expert at UNIDO, Mr. Oluyomi Banjo, Bakole commended the minister for the Federal Executive Council approval and launch of the National Policy on Solid Waste Management, the National Policy on Plastic Waste Management and, most recently, the passage of the Climate Change Bill by the Nigerian Senate.

He restated UNIDO’s commitment to supporting Nigeria in the achievement of a green and sustainable national development, stressing that if any country must achieve sustainable development, it must prioritize environmental issues.

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