The Federal Government of Nigeria has lauded the efforts of the Ekiti State Government at mitigating the impact of project activities on the environment and social-economic lives of the people of the state.
The Minister for Environment, Barr Mohammed Abdullahi gave the commendation in Ado Ekiti during a three-day panel review meeting of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) reports on Ekiti Cargo Airport, Ado-Akure dualised road and Ekiti State Knowledge Zone projects in the state.
The panel, comprising representatives from the Federal Ministry of Environment, Ekiti State Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, benefitting local government chairmen, environmentalists, relevant regulatory bodies, and ecology, geography, and socio-economic experts paid a working visit to the project sites.
The minister, represented by a deputy director in the Environmental Assisted Department of the Ministry, Dr Musa Gashua, lauded the state government for complying with the National Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) act of Nigeria and other extant environmental laws and regulations in the executions of developmental projects as one of the steps in addressing probable future and immediate environmental challenges caused by project activities.
He explained that the provisions of the EIA Act CAP E12 LFN 2004, mandated proponents of major developmental activities in the country to carry out an environmental and social impact assessment of all proposed projects.
Commenting on the ESIA reports on the three projects, Dr Abdullahi stressed the need for other state governments to embrace environmental and social impact assessment of projects to expose the environmental problems, social challenges and other negative impacts that come with project activities.
The minister noted with displeasure that neglect of such assessment reports was responsible for environmental degradation, pollution and some of the severe natural disasters like flooding, erosion, landslides and others experienced in the country.
He revealed that the panel review meetings between the three tiers of government and other critical stakeholders would enhance public participation and contributions in ensuring that the projects were executed at the highest level of environmental and social sustainability.
“The projects are a welcome development, it would open up a lot of businesses but at the same time [they] need to be planned very well so that the environmental components are factored in to ensure that these projects when completed would not jeopardize the provisions of EIA Act CAP E12 LFN 2004 and other extant laws of the country.
“This EIA report has been mandated to go through the scrutiny of experts and regulators to make sure that the EIA comply with global best practices.
“We have done the assessment, we have been to the project sites, we have seen the presentation, the environmental and technical aspects; we also had question and answer sessions, what is left now is that we would write our recommendations and take it to the decisionmaker, that is, the Honourable Minister who has the power to approve.
“I am satisfied with the report; they have met the minimum requirement, they are good to go and it is also a way of encouraging others because [some] government[s] don’t want to scrutinize their projects or subject them to EIA process, but now a lot of them are coming and we are impressed and we also encourage state governments to subject their proposed project to EIA scrutiny.
He further noted: “Man and project activities have rendered the environment very fragile and polluted; you see what is happening [with] the climate change, look at flooding, look at erosion, these are all defects that come with quest for industrialization.”
Dr. Akinyemi Akinyugha, an adviser to Ekiti State Government on environmental matters, mentioned that the health, safety and well-being of the people of Ekiti are paramount to the government, hence the prioritisation of the conduct of ESIA for the projects. He emphasised the state government’s commitment to the implementation of recommendations for environmental management during and after the execution of the projects.
“The State Government is very intentional in executing its development plan in the most environmentally-friendly approach possible. Not only are these projects designed to promote the economic development of the state but also to promote sustainable social inclusion by opening up new frontiers of growth for the state. The state is taking full advantage of its strategic location as a gateway to the North from the South and its proximity to Lagos in developing its potential in agro-business and knowledge economy,” added Dr Akinyugha.
In accordance with ESIA reports, the commendation from the Federal Government has again brought to light the demonstration of the Ekiti State Government to implement projects that will benefit the people of the State without distorting or causing environmental imbalance, he added.
Some of the environmental issues debated during the review meeting included exploitation of land, forest degradation, extinction of endangered species, habitat fragmentation, relocation plans, liquefaction, biodiversity impacts, waste management, compensation, groundwater impacts, social and economic impacts, operational phase impacts, report structures, mitigation measures, and other activities.