By Ikenna Uwadileke
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, on Tuesday in Abuja, urged Nigerians to refrain from activities capable of exacerbating the consequences of climate change.
Dogara made the call while declaring open a two-day public hearing on a bill to amend the National Environmental Standards Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) to provide for and adopt clean air policies.
The event was organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Environment and Habitat.
Represented by Deputy Minority Leader of the House, Rep. Chukwuka Onyema, Dogara expressed concern over environmental devastation, particularly the current flood ravaging parts of the country.
He called for concerted efforts to save the environment and Nigerians from devastating effects of greenhouse gas emissions, discharge of untreated harmful effluents and deforestation.
According to him, the current scenario of flaring associated gas, incidence of oil spillage and the discharge of untreated effluents into the canals, rivers and seas cannot continue indefinitely.
“We cannot continue to pretend that this does not affect our environment, our health and lives.
“Nigeria as a nation cannot afford to continue with this business-as-usual attitude to forest clearing or deforestation.
“The effect of climate change is real and its consequences are severe and we must do our utmost not to exacerbate it.
“Setting standard, ethical codes of conduct and professionalising every segment of environmental practices is very apt and is therefore, at the very heart of the sustainability of our lives.
“We as a nation need to key into building capacities and the competencies in every aspect of environmental management, be it green or brown,’’ he added.
The speaker also called for increased involvement of stakeholders in the management, protection and sustainability of the country’s environment.
According to him, we need to encourage private sector, civil society and non-governmental organisations’ participation in environmental stewardship and accountability.
He called for synergy among the three arms of government for greater enforcement of environment laws in the country.
The job of enforcement of environmental standard and regulations needs the collaboration of the three arms of government.
“It also needs the effective commitment of the law enforcement agencies to enforce the provisions of our extant laws and regulations on the environment.
“Those who cause malicious and harmful damage to our environment must be made to bear the brunt of the law.
“It is now criminal to stand aloof and do nothing while our environment is deliberately being destroyed,’’ Dogara added.
Earlier, the Chairman of the committee, Rep. Obinna Chidoka, said that environmental devastation in the country had brought hardship on Nigerians, put health at risk and dislocated economy and social life.
Chidoka said that there was no part of the country that was not experiencing one form of environmental challenge or the other.
“The House of Representatives has come to the conclusion that the actions or inactions which are fast destroying our environment have to stop, if not, we will have no place to run to very soon,’’ he said.
The Minister of Environment, Suleiman Hassan, said that there was need to mainstream environmental issues in developmental projects in the country.
The minister, who was represented by Mrs Stella Aborime, Legal Adviser of the ministry, said that they would study the bill and make submissions to the committee. (NAN)