- Water-tight security in Kano •7 churches, 8 shops razed - Police
- Terror suspect nabbed with N3m •As army uncovers bomb factory
- 2012, deadliest year for journalists - UN
- Court adjourns on missing N12.4bn oil windfall
- Why we cleared Molete under-bridge - Oyo govt
- Court jails courier over $286,400 cash
- Court rejects fridge repairer’s plea to keep Ibori’s bribe money
- Oyo to involve artisans in N.5bn schools rehabilitation contracts
- All set for LG poll today in Benue
- Mrs Braithwaite buried amid encomiums
- Forget presidency, Jonathan’s aide tells ex-military rulers
- FG sends delegation to Onaiyekan’s consecration, Suntai
We Are Already Enforcing Our Regulations - NESREA Zonal Director
South West Zonal Director of National Environment Standards and Regulations Agency (NESREA), Mr Olufunbi Sode, who was recently redeployed to South West zone, speaks on the extent his agency has gone in enforcing the agency’s gazetted regulations, among other issues.
With your little stay in the South West so far, can you differentiate between the environmental challenges of your former station and present station?
The challenges and the environmental situation in the South-South are different. As regards our mandate, we have domestic wastes and industrial pollutions going on over there. People in the South South have a lot of environmental abuse and they are advanced in ensuring that the degradation they have suffered in the past does not continue. In the South-West, we need to have more of enlightenment and advocacy to ensure that there is a change in the attitude of everybody towards their environment. This is because the vision of the agency is to ensure a clear and healthy environment for Nigerians, while the mission is to ensure personal and collective responsibilities for the achievement of self-development.
In February, your body reeled out some regulations guiding the environment with a view to enforcing them. How far have you gone in enforcing all these regulations you have rolled out?
One of the strategies of the agency is enlightenment, advocacy and sensitisation. In February this year, all over the country we carried out a sensitisation workshop. At that workshop, we discussed the environmental challenges and gazetted our regulations. It was at our last stakeholders meeting last year that the regulations were presented to the public and we did the sensitisation in February and apart from that, even in Oyo State and all over the state, we zone the areas where we are for even coverage and go outside to sensitise and we have done tremendously in some of the motor parks in Oyo State since I came in. We also have sustained sensitisation with youth corps members in the state because they have direct link to students at the local level. So they are part of us, we have the NYSC advocacy group and they have been part of us effectively.
At the February workshop, we delineated responsibilities in the regulation. We have an aspect in which the state government, local government, the general public and industries will handle. We visit facilities to see them observe the hypothesis and wherever we feel that there is an infringement or they have not been able to do well, we educate them, tell them what to do and we agree on a time frame to put them in place. After we have done that, at the time of expiration of each of the landmark, we go there to check how far they have gone.
All we are doing is to encourage them to move towards compliance. The objective of the agency is that at the end of the day, if we have this interaction collaboration, synergy with government and even the regulated committee, we expect that they would be self- regulatory to make the job easier for us.
What is the relationship like between your agency and states’ ministries of environment?
We relate with each other; we try to make ourselves understand that the function of government is to ensure that we add value to operations. If you go to a facility and you are not able to tell them exactly what to do, you are not adding value. If they comply with our advice, it enhances their corperate image, it reduces wastages and make them more competitive.
The aspect of noise pollution in the society today is one of the gazetted regulations. Your men have not come out to enforce on this aspect. Why?
In terms of noise pollution, it is an issue that we need to handle concertedly and with utmost caution. The regulation on noise pollution is going to be a collaboration. Lagos State has started implementing the regulation, just as we developed a regulation and they are enforcing it. Whether you are a religious body or commercial venture, you need to comply with the state’s regulation. There are some organs of government who have direct impact with the environment like the Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) among others.
We have discussed with the VIO on a regular basis and everybody is ready and we also want to look at the time to get everything right in place. There is this litter-free aspect of our regulation which we are also going to enforce. Anybody caught throwing out litter from moving vehicles will have to pay the sum of N20,000.
We have had consultations, and a workshop enlightenment with the judiciary and the Attorneys-General of states and the nation in 2009 and they are also ready to partner with us. The issue of the environment is partnership; it is multi-disciplinary, we all have a roll to further enlighten the people.
Still on collaboration with other agencies, what is the relationship between you and National Communication Commission (NCC), is it cordial vis-a-vis your seeming overlapping mandates?
We’ve had series of consultations which started 2009 when we had to look at their regulations and ours. The regulations of NCC talks more on the technical aspect, design, engineering and what have you. We are more concerned about environmental aspect of mounting a mast.
Are you saying you have no clash of mandate?
They have their own area of jurisdiction. We work on conditions of approval from the NCC for any base station built for our own environmental assessment. If you look at any mast sealed by the agency, NCC gave them a set-back of five metres which they did not comply with. All the base stations sealed by the agency in Abuja were did not comply with the five metres guideline. However, the base stations constructed before we came out with our regulations will be accepted based on NCC’s regulation. We have also sealed some in Ibadan which did not meet up with the five metres perimetre fencing. For new ones that would be erected, it must be 10 metres perimetre to preserve lives.
On the now seeming yearly flood issue, what plan is being put in place by your agency to assist states in your zone?
We don’t have to be prepared. It all depends on enlightenment of all citizens to ensure that wastes are properly disposed of, and not dumped in drainages and waterways. We are collaborating with Green Corps in the area of waste disposal and management.
Those involved in town planning also must ensure whole compliance in town planning rules, such as not building along waterways. This brings flooding and destruction. Consultations on attitude towards the rainy season by our people is a continuous work from our end.
What are you doing to involve the youth concerning care and respect for the environment?
The agency is doing something about the idea. That is why during World Environment Day, we usually involve pupils and students from various schools in a healthy competition to participate in our workshops and seminars. We are planning to have NESREA clubs in primary ans secondary schools and through this, children would buy into the mandate of the agency on environment.
Page 10 of 65