Activists unveil 10-point roadmap for Nigeria’s environmental sustainability

ERA Executive Director, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo (left) presenting the document on ‘Ensuring Environmental Sustainability and Climate Resilient Development within the Change Agenda to Khana Local Government Chairman, Akpobari Celestine (right) and a member of the House of Representative, Randolf  Iwo Oruene Brown during the World Environment Day celebration organized by ERA/FOEN, last week

ERA Executive Director, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo (left) presenting the document on ‘Ensuring Environmental Sustainability and Climate Resilient Development within the Change Agenda to Khana Local Government Chairman, Akpobari Celestine (right) and a member of the House of Representative, Randolf Iwo Oruene Brown during the World Environment Day celebration organized by ERA/FOEN, last week

FRONTLINE environmental human rights group, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FOEN) has presented a 10-point  memorandum to the newly inaugurated President Muhammadu Buhari and National Assembly that if implemented, will lead to environmental sustainability in the country.
 
ERA’s Executive Director, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo presented the document on ‘Ensuring Environmental Sustainability and Climate Resilient Development within the Change Agenda’ last week at a one-day Programme to mark the World Environment Day in Abuja.
 
In the 20-page memo, the group is advocating for stronger commitment from the government to hold every polluter accountable for both clean up and remediation of any affected area and equipping institutions such as National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and National Environmental Standards Regulatory and Enforcement Agency (NESREA), to conduct their statutory regulatory and enforcement duties.
   
At the event attended by ERA/FOEN-led coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), media, National Assembly members and Host Communities Network (HOCON), the activists urge the government to compel the transnational oil companies to halt gas flaring and commence the clean up of the 10,000 oil spill sites by the establishment of $100 million clean up and remediation fund for the entire Niger Delta.
     
“The inability of government to hold culprits to account and non-enforcement of the Polluter-Pay Principle has encouraged the culture of impunity with grave consequences to the environment, rural livelihood sources and serious environmental degradation,” according to Ojo.
   
The group recalls Buhari’s acceptance speech, where he commits to addressing the climate challenge that presently incapacitates livelihoods, and urges him to champion the fight against climate change by the establishment of a dedicated commission directly under the presidency inline with current global practices.
   
Ojo said: “Nigeria has pioneered the legislation for the establishment of a specialised National Climate Change Commission/Agency through the bill for the establishment of a commission since 2009. However, former President Goodluck Jonathan did not assent to the bill.
         
“It is instructive to note that countries like Philippines, Mexico, Columbia and Kenya that have adopted Nigeria’s proposed model have since established statutory commissions to provide climate governance and resilience in their respective countries.”
   
ERA/FOEN also advocates for reforms that will guarantee livelihoods like right to a clean and safe environment, right to access to water, public participation in environmental issues as a fundamental right under the constitution. Ojo explained, “For us, a regime that ensures social justice and equity is the first step towards ensuring sustainable Nigeria.”
     
Amongst the group recommendation is the adoption of a National Basic Income Scheme (NABIS) of about N10, 000 to be paid to all Nigerians who are unemployed to reduce social disparity and income inequalities.  “NABIS has the prospects of unlocking creative potentials, reducing crime rates, and fostering national cohesion and sense of belonging to this group of Nigerians desperately in need of succor.”
   
ERA/FOEN believes that Nigeria can only make meaningful progress through efficient use of its natural resources in a sustainable manner. A change agenda that will result to improved human well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.”
   
Ojo urged the President to accelerate the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by working with the National Assembly to ensure probity and accountability for the general hood of the economy as well as increase revenue for Nigeria, account for frequent oil spills and clean up process and arrest the spate of oil spate. 
   
He also wants the administration to study UNEP Assessment Report on Ogoni with a view to fully implement its recommendations, which will reduce environmental hazards and improve livelihoods in the affected communities.
 
“It is therefore ironic that despite several millions of Naira invested in the report and countless agitations by interested stakeholders, the report has been subjected to political machinations and intrigues, while the environmental degradation continues abated,” he said.
 
For the group, the deployment cleaner energy solutions, particularly renewable, is paramount to reduce emission of greenhouse gases, protect the environment and enhance sustainable development. Ojo added, “ Nigeria needs to be in the forefront of the renewable energy revolution by dedicating adequate resources for research and development that will drive this process.”
 

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