By Fatai Ibrahim

Ibrahim Usman jibril Minister of state

Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril

Success is no mystery; it is simply the result of consistently applying some basic principles – Shiv Khera

 The Federal Ministry of Environment basically is to “ensure environmental protection, natural resources conservation and sustainable development of a nation.” So when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed former environment minister, Amina J. Mohammad and Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril to lead the Federal Ministry of Environment, he envisaged great need for transformational ecological governance and inclusive growth and development.

During this time, the government was grappling with a plethora of challenges. These ranged from the insecurity, volatility in the oil sector as price fell by 66.8% from $114 per barrel recorded in June 2014, to about $38 per barrel by December 2015; deepening poverty and lack of adequate infrastructure  at all levels.

Having returned from Paris, the ministers (Amina and Ibrahim) immediately embarked on a nationwide tour of environmentally infamous locations to assess the gravity of the challenges and interact with the concerned communities while gaining first-hand experience of all the ecological challenges facing the country. The tour took them to states such as Lagos in the south west on issues of coastal erosion and urban slums and to Imo and Anambra states on erosion watershed.

Rivers State in Niger Delta clean-up, Kano/Jigawa in North West on industrial pollution and Yobe, Borno states in North East on issues of desertification, recharging of the Lake Chad and insecurity caused by environmental degradation. These critical national environmental issues formed the focus of the administration efforts framing a new narrative and redefining environmental governance.

After moving round the country and inspired by the outcome of the nationwide tour of environmentally impacted sites, the ministers set out to redefine Nigeria’s environmental governance, creating a new narrative that sees the interconnection within the Federal Ministry of Environment dedicated to laying a solid foundation for environmental protection in a modern era of change. Empowering people, taking climate action and protecting the environment, are at the centre of the new narrative.

This new narrative puts the Federal Ministry of Environment under the leadership of the current visionary leadership of Alh Ibrahim Usman Jibril on a path of creating opportunities that grow a prosperous nation, through an empowered people, capable of taking action and contributing to the protection of our planet. This is at the core of the administration of President Mohammad Buhari’s change agenda.

Environment as one of the six core pillars of the change agenda is reflective of the government’s new understanding of the environment as a basis for sustainability in line with the President Buhari’s change agenda, the environment has become an entry point for addressing issues of security, inclusive and green economy and improved governance through accountability and transparency. Environmental degradation has been identified as the root cause of insecurity and conflicts like Boko-Haram insurgency, militancy in the Niger Delta and more recently the conflict between our herdsmen and farmers where people mostly women are caught at the centre. Therefore, to improve security, the environment must be taken into account in the development agenda.

The second thrust of the agenda is the resuscitating the economy, creating decent jobs while ensuring that women and young people are empowered through the provision of the infrastructures and social services. The environment sector is poised to create a whole new job market as skill through promoting green economy.

Ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

After submitting Nigeria’s Intended National determined contributions (INDC) to the UN frame work convention on climate change (UNFCCC) at the conference of parties (COP 21) in Paris, France – where the world agreed to reduce average global carbon emission to 2 degrees Celsius. On September 22nd 2016, President Muhammed Buhari signed the historic Paris agreement at a side event in New York, signaling Nigeria’s commitment for climate action and investment in sustainability and the instrument of Ratification of the Paris agreement has been transmitted to the UN. In this line the world has adopted Norman Vincent Peale philosophy when he said, ‘People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things, when they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.’

Launch of Household and communal sanitation in the FCT and signing of environmental Health practice regulations into law

Henry Ford a great philosopher and thinker once posited ‘Working together is success’, it is in this direction that the Federal Ministry of environment in collaboration with the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), launched the household and community sanitation exercise aimed at improving personal hygiene and clean environment in all area councils within the FCT territory. The exercise commenced in January 2016 at Kuje Area council and was flagged off by the ministers in charge of FCT and environment. The exercise concluded with the campaign against the outbreak of Lassa fever, which claimed several lives across the states of the Federation. Towards sustaining the sanitation within the federation and the country at large, the environmental health practice regulations 2016 was signed as a statutory instrument in February 2016. This instrument provides the platform for Environmental Health Officers Regulations Council of Nigeria (EHCRECON) to regulate its services effectively. This is a clear manifestation that the Ministry of Environment   places high premium on the well being of the Nigerian people in line with the Latin maxim  – salus populi suprema ex lex (A healthy nation breeds healthy citizens).

Achievements on UNEP report on Ogoni clean up

President Muhammed Buhari approval on August 5 2015, plan of actions to fast track the environmental clean-up at Ogoni land is undoubtedly one of the most significant decisions taken by the President since his inauguration on May 29 2015. The President’s action has now breathed life into a four year report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which hitherto has been gathering dust on the shelf, since it was published on August 4, 2011. The sincerity of purpose of President Buhari has justified the saying of the highly cerebral Mahatma Gandhi who says, “Strength does not come from physical capacity; it comes from an indomitable will.”

The actions taken so far after the presidential launch include; Review of HYDREP gazette to make the institutional structure more inclusive and transparent. The review gazette provided the institutional framework needed to drive the clean-up process, namely the HYPREP governing council, the Board of trustees and the Appointment of HYPREP project coordinator in person of Dr Mavin Dekil an indigene of Ogoni land.

Others are demonstration of remediation technology, which allows for the testing of the different approaches that are been preferred from around the world, and to ensure that only the best is ultimately applied; ground breaking for the construction of an integrated contaminated soil management centre and  the construction of a centre of excellence, so also is Skills and livelihood training for 1200 women from the four Local governments in different skills that will enable them to be financially independent. These skills include snail farming, palm oil processing, green housing, fishing – shrimps, agriculture extension and poultry.

Clean up of lead poisoning in Shikira – Niger state. The Shikira community was destroyed by lead poison in April 2015, resulting in the loss of 30 lives and adverse health condition for over 300 people, mostly children below the age of 5. until may 2015, very little if anything was known about obscure Shikira, a highly remote and inaccessible rural mining community in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, north central – Nigeria. The Federal Ministry of Environment In collaboration with Doctors without borders, the ministry of mines and steel development, the cleanup has saved 2,500 children in over 150 affected compounds in Shikira. This feat is quite legendary and commendable!

It won’t be out of place to conclude this piece by quoting Mario Cuomo, who asserted “There are only two rules for being successful one, figure out exactly what you want to do, and two, do it” that is exactly what is  presently happening at the Federal Ministry of Environment under the visionary and dynamic leadership of Alh. Ibrahim Usman Jubril.

 Ibrahim can be reached on fataiib5@gmail.com

 

TAURARUWA