Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has said that the House is committed to ensuring that communities are empowered to have a say in the implementation of projects and how such projects would impact the environment.
Speaking at a public hearing on a bill which seeks to amend the Environment Impact Assessment Act in order to make it more responsive, the Speaker highlighted the importance of including host communities in the deliberation process, and how doing so would help protect the environment.
“Today, we are all gathered to make valued inputs and presentations on the Environmental Impact Assessment Amendment Bill. This bill seeks to amend the Environmental Impact Assessment Act to make it responsive by ensuring that project developers, approving authorities and persons whose livelihood will be affected by proposed project are involved in decision making to safeguard the environment and ensure adequate remediation of the environment and others.”
He commended efforts by the Ministry of Environment and other stakeholders including Civil Society Organisations and the academia, for their efforts towards addressing environmental issues.
“Furthermore, I am informed that the Federal Ministry of Environment is taking steps to address the gaps, omissions, inadequacies as well global emerging issues such as: strategic Environment Assessment, Global Climate Change, Transboundary issues, Risk and Vulnerability, Jurisdictional Roles and Responsibility, Violations/penalties, IFC performance standards/Equator principle and Grievance Redress Mechanism in the extant legislation.
“I recognise the role of all stakeholders; the government, civil society organisations, the academia, industry operators in the various sectors of our economy, professional bodies and community-based organisations in advocating for a virile and effective EIA as an Environment Tool”, he said.
He stressed the need for improved environmental impact assessment and audit processes and expressed hope that the amended Act and policy reforms will ensure a better deal for the environment, the people and industry operators; and stated that the “disastrous” effects of some projects has necessitated extensive and more inclusive deliberations before implementation.
“Given the attendant disastrous effects of some of the projects in various locations in Nigeria, either by government or their agencies, companies or by individuals, it has become very urgent and imperative for all stakeholders to painstakingly deliberate on this topical issue of environmental impact assessment process.”
He commended the House Committee on Environment and Habitat, which convened the public hearing, for its diligence in addressing various lapses and lacuna in environmental laws. He urged the committee to use the input from stakeholders to formulate an amendment bill which effectively address inadequacies.
“Our communities and our people deserve the best from us and this Eighth Assembly is determined to give them only the best”, the Speaker said.