How to rejig environment sector, by Goke Adegoroye
After carrying out a critical analysis of the environmental management over three decades in Nigeria, a retired Federal Permanent Secretary and one-time Director General of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA), Dr. Goke Adegoroye has given a verdict that the environment sector has been grossly short-changed.
Among his prescription for the revival of the sector is the creation of an Environment Fund, to subsume the current Ecological Fund and cover the entire spectrum of environment problems and issues, into which donations and/or green taxes from the corporate bodies can be paid in furtherance of their corporate environmental responsibility.
He also suggested that the Ecological Fund Office should be relocated from the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) to the Federal Ministry of Environment, for oversight of the management of the Federal Government share of 1.46 per cent and with the strong involvement of the National Council on Environment in determining intervention priorities, while retaining the power of the President to give final approvals on their disbursement.
Dr. Adegoroye who delivered the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) School of Environmental Technology 2017 Annual Lecture titled From Research to Policy and Vision to Action, The Challenge of Environmental Management in Nigeria, lamented that the environment has been left poorer, depleted, filthier, more toxic and less safe than before the commencement of respective professional journeys through its portals.
He argued that environment sector has been much more under-funded and continued to be taken for granted, relative to the other sectors and largely at the mercy of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), relying on external prompting or global agenda of the UN to catch the attention of governments.
Adegoroye said: “Unless and until there is a natural disaster, environment as an issue has remained In the process, development in environmental protection often falls prey to being used as a rhetorical tool of politicians, responding to the periodic fads that are regularly churned out as global targets on sustainable development, to enjoy momentary limelight on the global stage.”
Adegoroye urged Nigerian academics and researchers to abandon the regimentation of knowledge that has continued to subsist in institutions of higher learning, adopt the new global method of appreciating and deploying knowledge within the holistic and inter-disciplinary practical approach of providing solutions to societal problems.
He said that governments at all levels should endeavor to make concrete investment in the development of infrastructure for environmental management. “The only viable and indispensable insurance against looming disasters as exemplified in such hidden benefits as healthcare costs saved, natural and man-made disasters avoided, as well as the human and natural resource productivity improved, all of which with their multiplier effects are in the order of magnitude that are better imagined than suffered,” Adegoroye said.
He advised that the environment agencies of the Federal Government should uphold and respect the rights of State environment agencies to monitor pollution, enforce environmental compliance and effect sanctions on polluting entities in their jurisdiction, using both State and federal laws and with funding support from the Federal Government.
He posited that State taxes and conditionalities for resource extraction must take the full account of the values of such resources, including the pollution and degradation that accompany their extraction as well as their replacement costs. That, in the case of renewable resources like timber, loggers and millers, the resources must be made to go into cooperatives that would establish plantations of their preferred species as replacement stocks for future generations.