By Henry Umoru
IMMEDIATE Past Deputy President of the Senate and Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has called on all the agencies under the Federal Ministry of Environment to cooperate with the National Assembly to ensure early defence and approval of the 2020 budget.
Ekweremadu who spoke in Abuja during an interactive session with Departments, Agencies and Parastatals and stakeholders in the environment sector, said, “The parliament has given Mr President and Nigerians their words on early approval of the 2020 budget. Let me, therefore, urge the Honourable Ministers, Chief Executives of the Agencies, and key stakeholders to be adequately prepared for interactive sessions on the budget proposal to enable the National Assembly to pass it early.”
Ekweremadu who described the environment as life itself, however, regretted that Nigeria was not measuring up to the required standards to guarantee a safe and sustainable environment, just as he charged the Ministry and its agencies to work harder to mitigate the huge environmental challenges in the country.
He said, “There is enormous work to be done. Whether it is the 2018 Environmental Performance Index, where Nigeria ranked a lowly 100th place or other environmental ratings, the figures are not looking good for us as a nation.
“The Senate has mandated us to deal with matters relating to control of air pollution, industrial waste, control of toxic and hazardous waste, dumping by industrialised nations, control of water pollution, environmental sanitation, control of desertification, erosion control, oil spillage control and management, maritime resources management, conservation, and indeed laying policy on clean environment for Nigeria.
”So, we will not stop at dissecting and approving your budget estimates. We will also keep you on your toes through our oversight functions. We will work with you to ensure substantial improvement in budget performance, which has remained perennially low with adverse effects on economic growth and quality of life. But we will also accord you every necessary legislative support to succeed”, Ekweremadu added.
The former Deputy President of the Senate assured of the Committee’s support towards the Bill for an Act to Establish the Institute of Environmental Practitioners of Nigeria when brought before the Senate.
In their various contributions, the Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Mahmoud, and heads of various agencies under the Ministry decried poor funding as major setback in the discharge of their mandates.
Other stakeholders at the interactive session include State Commissioners of Environment, oil majors, the Nigerian Environmental Society, Non-Governmental Organisations, among others.