Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives on Tuesday unveiled plans to move environment related matters from residual to concurrent list to enable the federal parliament legislate on such issues.
Dogara who stated this at the national stakeholders summit on legislative framework for environmental law and policy, held in Abuja, expressed concern over increasing spate of environmental and natural disasters across the world.
While noting that the environmental crises are proven evidences that climate change is not a hoax, the Speaker argued that the Nigerian environment currently presents the picture of a threatened heritage.
He maintained environmental change is expected to increase the likelihood and impact of extreme weather variability while the parallel and paradox of climate change continue to exacerbate the plight of many local communities in Nigeria.
“Climate-related disasters have increased displacement and vulnerability of exposed populations. It’s like these disasters convey a brutal message to those who believe climate change is a hoax that they can only continue to ignore environmental issues at unremitting peril.
“Some of the emerging national environmental concerns include depletion of biodiversity and illegal trade in wildlife. This fast growing habitat alteration and illegal trade in wildlife products is eroding earth’s precious biodiversity, robbing mankind of our natural heritage and driving important species to the brink of extinction. It only stands to reason, that this National Summit should proffer practicable policy and legislative solutions to this menace,” the Speaker noted.
Dogara maintained that leadership of the National Assembly is very conscious of the grave threats posed by such issues as global warming, climate change, ocean surge, drought/desertification, oil spillage, erosion, waste management and gas flaring, degradation of agricultural lands, soil loss, erosions, landslides, bush burning, unwarranted and uncontrolled grazing, deforestation and general environmental pollution.”
In re bid to cure the lacuna in the constitution and the conflict created by the rulings delivered by some Supreme Court Justices on environment related cases, Dogara noted that the “leadership of the Constitution Review Committees of the National Assembly, listed ‘Environment’ separately as an item in the Concurrent List in the just concluded voting on Constitutional alteration which did not garner the required 2/3 majority votes of each Chamber of the National Assembly.
“The goal of a sound environmental law and policy in environmental governance is sustainable development. Sustainable development lacks precise definition. Its original conceptualisation is defined in ‘Our Common Future’ (otherwise known as the Brundtland Report) as “…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
“This is why environmental sustainability has remained an enduring theme in the mandate of the House Committee on Environment and Habitat. Since the administration of the environment is governed by laws, it is therefore important to review extant legislations to meet up with the emerging environmental trends.
“The urgency of these reforms stems from the fact that environmental laws are put in place to mitigate or prevent the threatening environmental challenges associated with human activities in the quest for economic growth and development.
“The Nigerian Environment currently presents the picture of a threatened heritage. Unfortunately, in our bid to improve quality of life we deplete the natural support systems through by-passing natural process and defying sustainable development practices,” he said.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja