Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Senate Committee Chairman on Environment, Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, as well as her House of Representatives counterpart, Hon. Obinna Chidoka, were major absentees at a workshop organised by the ministry as part of series of consultations aimed at amending and expanding the Environmental Assessment Impact (EIA) Act to incorporate emerging and global issues.
The workshop organised yesterday in Abuja by the Department of Environmental Impact Assessment, Ministry of Environment, was also aimed at bridging institutional an legislative gaps identified in the course of the implementing of the EIA Act 2004.
Delivering his keynote, the Minister of Environment, Usman Jibril said that the federal government enacted the EIA Act as a commitment to ensuring sustainable development.
The minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Sheu Ahmed added that the Act sets out procedure and methods to enable prior consideration of EIA of certain public and private projects and also empowers the ministry to process EIA projects and programmes.
According to him, â€œthe implementation of EIAâ€™s in Nigeria is a key aspect of Agenda 21 in Principle 17 of the Rio Declaration of principles. The EIA Act has been in operation for more than two decades now. However, in the course of implementation, a number of gaps, omissions and inadequacies have been identified.
Jibril added that, â€œas a result, the Ministryâ€™s role as the apex regulatory body for the protection and conservation of natural resources in Nigeria has made series of consultations aimed at revising and preparing the EIA law for amendment to expand its legislative coverage and incorporate emerging and global issues into Act.
â€œThis workshop is therefore organised to bring an end to several attempts by the ministry to come up with a draft revised EIA Act for all sectors of the economy to operate which fits the needs of the country and international standards, the minister added.
Earlier, the Director, Environment Assessment Department, Mr. John Alonge said workshop aimed at making the EIA process in Nigeria less cumbersome and more result oriented.
He noted that the journey for the review of EIA Act started with the inter-ministerial committee which was followed by national stakeholdersâ€™ workshop held in 2005, and was closely followed by the ministry of Justiceâ€™s comprehensive review of the amendment bill Iâ€™m 2006.
Alonge revealed that the objectives of the workshop include; improving and removing bottlenecks in EIA process; reviewing current EIA practice in Nigeria; integration of recent environmental issues and global emerging trends into EIA process in Nigeria among others.