The 9th National Council on Environment (NCE) was held at the J.S. Tarka Foundation Building in Makurdi, Benue State on 9th of May, 2013. It was chaired by the Honourable Minister of Environment, Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia with the theme “Green Economy: A Panacea for Sustainable Development”. The Council meeting was preceded by the National Technical Committee session from 5th – 8th May 2013 at the same venue chaired by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, Mr. Taiye Haruna, with Permanent Secretaries of State Ministries of Environment and other delegates from the 36 states of the federation and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
2. The opening ceremony was declared open by the Executive Governor of Benue State who was ably represented by the Deputy Governor, His Excellency, Chief Stephen Lawani, OFR. Also present at the ceremony were the First Lady of the State, Arc. Dooshima Yemisi Suswam; Chairman House Committee on Climate Change, Hon. Eziuche C. Ubani; Honourable Commissioners for Environment from 31 States of the Federation and the FCT; Special Advisers to the Governors on Environmental Matters; Permanent Secretaries; Chief Executives of related Federal and State Agencies; Officials from Federal and State Ministries of Environment; Non-Governmental Organizations; and the Organized Private Sector.
3. In her Keynote address, the Honourable Minister stated that the choice of the theme “Green Economy: A Panacea for Sustainable Development” for the Council meeting was informed by the outcome of the recent United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20 Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012. The choice was also to enable members reflect on the general state of the Nigerian Environment, examine the challenges and chart the way forward. The Honourable Minister reiterated the fact that the responsibility for environmental management is to be shared between the three tiers of government as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution. She highlighted the key functions and some of the achievements made by the FMENV in the past one year. She enjoined all States and Stakeholders to contribute their quota to remedy the extensive damage to the nation’s environment.
4. The Technical Committee considered 110 memoranda submitted by the Federal and State Ministries of Environment/Agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)/Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the Academia, and made appropriate recommendations to the Council.
Council Notes and Observations
5. The Council deliberated extensively on all the memos including 62 from the States, and noted the following:
i. The need for harmonization of the National Environmental Sanitation Policy (NESP) and provision of Public Toilets in all public and private places as required by existing guidelines and regulations;
ii. The need for strict adherence to existing regulations on the use of land along flood plains and for States to undertake effective awareness programmes on flooding;
iii. The efforts of the Federal Ministry of Environment on the operations of web-based and automated Flood Early Warning Systems (FEWS) in flood monitoring and management in Nigeria;
iv. The status of implementation of the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) as well as the approval for the borrowing plan by the National Assembly;
v. The development of the National Dispersant Use Policy for Nigeria which is being reviewed for stakeholders’ validation;
vi. Efforts to effectively tackle identification of oil spill sources through existing regulation on finger printing;
vii. The status of implementation of the intervention programme of the Federal Government to address the lead poisoning incident in Zamfara State;
viii. The approval of the sum of N850 million by Mr. President to execute relevant programmes and activities on the Zamfara lead poisoning incident;
ix. The importance of demand-driven approach for the second phase of the Presidential Initiative on Afforestation Programme and concerns of States with respect to the integrated management of natural resources;
x. The existing guidelines on Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) for sustainable management of non-timber forest species;
xi. The intervention by the Invasive Aquatic Weeds project was in 25 States and 75 communities and has positively impacted the livelihood of the affected riparian communities;
xii. The need to establish NFIS/GIS desk offices at the State level;
xiii. The halting of mangrove depletion would provide better ecosystem health, economic empowerment and development opportunities for coastal communities;
xiv. The approval and preparation for implementation of the Great Green Wall Regional Project;
xv. The importance of bamboo and rattan as versatile resources to promote forest and natural resources conservation, environmental integrity and wealth creation;
xvi. The need for more effective collaboration between the States Ministry of Environment and Development Control Authorities as regards land allocation for EIA D development projects;
xvii. The concerns raised by States in the area of erosion, flood and coastal zone management;
xviii. The need to continue to effectively mainstream gender in environmental management;
xix. The need to enhance awareness on Climate Change;
xx. The efforts of the Federal Ministry of Environment on the management of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), particularly Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in the minimization of Dioxin emission in Nigeria;
xxi. The progress made in the implementation of the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the Ozone layer;
xxii. The concerns raised by States on the establishment of integrated solid waste management facilities, including sanitary landfills and sewage treatment plants;
xxiii. The progress made by States to implement the 2011 decision of the 8th NCE on the total ban on export of fuel wood and charcoal;
xxiv. The efforts by some States and sectors on Renewable Energy and Clean Development Mechanism (CDM);
xxv. The achievements of the Federal Ministry of Environment on the strategies being adopted on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) implementation in Nigeria, including the review of existing guidelines and development of new ones, as well as improvement of access to EIA reports through the e-based registry;
xxvi. The concern raised by a State on the contravention of the EIA Act by Chevron Nigeria Ltd. on the Funiwa Gas Explosion on its Drilling Rig;
xxvii. The celebration of World Environment Day on 5th June of every year;
xxviii. Nigeria’s successful participation at the Rio+20 Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012;
xxix. The efforts and achievements of the Federal Ministry of Environment towards increasing GEF funding in the country and the need for counterpart funding as local commitment to complement such international funding support for projects;
xxx. The production of a new Framework for the Development of Environment Statistics (FDES) by the United Nations Statistics Division and the need to adopt the FDES for the production of environment statistics in Nigeria.
Council Resolutions
6. Sequel to the above Notes and Observations, Council resolved as follows:
i. Commended efforts of some States that are already implementing the NESP and directed other States to emulate them;
ii. iUrged States to consider other relevant options for actualizing the establishment of Integrated Solid Waste Management Facilities, including Sanitary Landfills and Sewage Treatment Plants through Public Private Partnership arrangement in line with Government Transformation Agenda;
iii. Directed that all ongoing projects on solid waste management should be completed by the Federal Ministry of Environment and that the Ministry should develop a National Policy on Solid and Liquid Waste Management;
iv. Urged States to partner, support and collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Environment in the installations of FEWS outstations and replicate same in their respective domains to prevent the recurrence of flooding;
v. Urged State Ministries/Agencies and other stakeholders to take advantage of the strategies being adopted on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) implementation in Nigeria, to achieve the desired results;
vi. Directed the Federal Ministry of Environment to continue to ensure the active involvement of States and other relevant stakeholders in the EIA implementation;
vii. Directed the establishment of a contributory fund by oil companies for the management of spills, which should be centrally managed;
viii. Endorsed the adoption and pilot testing of remediation technologies for a contaminated site in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country through the tool kit developed by the Federal Ministry of Environment with the support of UNIDO;
ix. Advised States to consider various options regarding the establishment of Environmental Reference Laboratories, including the upgrading of existing facilities in relevant institutions within their domain;
x. Urged the participating States in the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) to provide counterpart funds for the implementation of the project;
xi. Urged States to domesticate the existing guidelines on Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) for sustainable management of non-timber forest species;
xii. Approve that efforts be made by both Federal and State Governments for the project to continue in view of its ecological and socio-economic importance by seeking fund from all relevant sources;
xiii. Approve the establishment of NFIS desk officers at State level and NFIS/GIS nodal centers in the 6 geopolitical zones;
xiv. Recommended the Implementation of Second Phase of Presidential Initiative on Afforestation Programme Nationwide, which will be demand-driven and include raising and planting of seedlings taking cognisance of land availability in each State as opposed to setting uniform targets for all the States;
xv. Urged all tiers of government and other stakeholders to effectively participate in the implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation programmes;
xvi. Urged participating States in the Great Green Wall Regional Project to intensify the sensitization and awareness campaign, including putting in place an effective institutional framework;
xvii. Urged States to develop and implement State Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (SBSAPs);
xviii. Urged that efforts should be intensified at all levels to achieve desired goals on Renewable Energy and Clean Development Mechanism (CDM);
xix. Approved the establishment of Climate Change Desk/Unit according to the circumstances in each State;
xx. Approved the establishment of Gender Desks at the Federal, State and Local Government levels and across sectors;
xxi. Approved the establishment of a National Steering Committee on Bamboo and Rattan to assist in guiding the executing Agency of Government in the elaboration and implementation of the national programme;
xxii. Encouraged the completion of the National Ozone Village to provide local capacity for the sustainability of the programme;
xxiii. Urged the Federal Ministry of Environment to ensure the completion of the ongoing Post Impact Assessment (PIA) study by Chevron Nig. Ltd;
xxiv. Approved the creation of Environmental Education and Awareness Desk in the States;
xxv. Urged States to effectively implement relevant programmes and activities for the 2013 World Environment Day in line with the 2013 guidelines of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the global theme, ‘Think-Eat-Save’;
xxvi. Council noted the relevance of the Rio+20 outcome, The Future We Want, to sustainable national development and approved that a National Action Plan for the Implementation of the Outcome of Rio+20 be developed;
xxvii. Urged all GEF-benefitting States and local governments to endeavor to provide required counterpart funding in cash or kind for the internationally funded projects in their various States;
xxviii. Urged the Federal Ministry of Environment to provide the necessary leadership and guidelines for the application of the United Nations new Framework for the Production of Environment Statistics (FDES) in Nigeria;
xxix. Urged States to ensure effective implementation of relevant decisions, and report on progress at the Council meeting;
xxx. Directed that letters of commendation should be sent to Mr. President in respect of His Excellency’s intervention and support during the flood incident that ravaged many States of the Federation in 2012, as well as the Zamfara Lead Poisoning;
xxxi. Confirmed the next hosting State as Jigawa 2014; and
xxxii. Directed that host States should host the technical session two months preceding the National Council meeting.
7. Council expressed appreciation to the following:
i. Mr. President, Commander-in-Chief, His Office and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) members towards Nigeria’s successful participation at the Rio+20 Summit, as well as other programmes, activities and interventions of the Federal Ministry of Environment.
ii. The Government of Benue State for the successful hosting of the 9th NCE, and the warm reception and hospitality extended to delegates.
iii. All the corporate bodies and individuals that contributed towards the successful hosting of the 9th NCE.

Makurdi, Benue State
9th May, 2013.

NIGERIA: Deliver to Decipher

Recommendation: Make Health Care Facilities Safe and Accessible

When the time came for me to deliver my first daughter, my maternal grandmother took me aside and told me to sit down.
“There is no pain as that of child birth,” she said. “It is indescribable. Delivery can only be done by God. Put your faith in him. As for the doctors—forget them.”

Her words made me deeply afraid for what I was to experience next, and my mother’s words only confirmed my fears.

“Has she explained everything to you?” she said. “It will be painful.”

True to their words, my labor was the most horrific experience of my life. My relatives prepared me for the physical pain, but I was not alerted to the conditions I would meet in Nigeria’s health care facilities.

I went to the hospital to deliver my daughter on April 25, 2002. Pain gushed out of me like the flow of a river. I screamed, expecting soothing medications to reduce my pain, or at least soothing words to help me through. Instead, one of the nurses shouted at me: “Shut up! It is time for you to know that a baby’s head is bigger than a man’s manhood.”

At the hospital, there was not a single doctor. The room was crowded with women in various stages of delivery. We were forced to labor on benches, as there was only one bed. When the baby crowned at the birth canal, women would be transferred to the only available bed.

A nurse sternly warned me not to push, despite my baby’s insistence on coming into this world. When I could not take it any further, I screamed and the nurse almost hit me. “I told you not to push! No space for you to deliver!”

The pain of attempting to stop my labor made me cry out in more pain. I pulled my husband aside and gave him these instructions: “If I die, ensure that you take me back to my village for burial. I do not want to be buried in Lagos, or in your village.” He responded with a hiss.

When my baby was finally delivered, she could not breathe. The nurse looked at me straight in the face and said, “Witch, you have killed your daughter.” She handed the baby to my husband and said, “She is a still birth. Your wife killed your child.”

I began to cry as my husband wrapped a scarf around the baby to prepare her for burial. But suddenly, a doctor who arrived just in time took the baby from his arms. I don’t know how, but by some miracle of God he was able to revive my daughter. Relieved, I fell asleep.

I woke in a pool of blood—the nurses had forgotten to stitch my vagina where the episiotomy had been performed. I recovered after eight days in intensive care.

These horrible experiences happened in one of the largest hospitals in Lagos. I was lucky to survive. My daughter, whom we named Oluwatobiloba meaning ‘God is a Great King’, was lucky to survive. Every day, women are sacrificed at the altars of medical negligence in Nigeria.

I could quote statistics of maternal deaths in my country, but they would be useless: official numbers do not represent the actual quantity of casualties we see daily. I call on our government to commit to proper funding and staffing for our health care system. We must all come together to reduce the number of women and infants buried in the graveyards of Nigeria.

Olutosin Oladosu-Adebowale | Nigeria


NIGERIA: What I Learned From my Mother

I always wondered why my mother separated from my father. It took years for her to tell me why she had to leave. According to her, my father neither cared for her nor showed her love while she was pregnant. My mother lost three pregnancies before giving birth to me, and on those occasions my father was not around to give her the love, care, and support she needed to overcome the trauma of miscarriage. Instead, he always complained about the money he had to pay at the hospital.

She said the breaking point was when she gave birth to me, and she had complications that almost took her life after childbirth. Rather than focusing on how the doctors could help her to survive, he was busy questioning my paternity. This was because I was “very dark” in complexion and my father is very fair in complexion.

My mother’s story was a nightmare for me; I kept wondering why my father was displaying such gross irresponsibility at a time when she needed him most. I thought my father was the most wicked man on earth—until my mother tried having another husband. The man was very kind until my mother got pregnant. That was the last we saw of him.

As if this was not enough, my mother tried a third time at having a husband, which led to more tragedy. After impregnating my mom, the man took off again and my mother was left to raise all of us children alone.

The men in my mother’s life represent one category of men who do not value women and their childbearing roles in our society—but they are not representative of all men. I have been privileged to work with many male allies who value and care for women. They are remarkably different to the men in my mother’s life. They have love in their hearts and are able to feel the pains that women experience during pregnancy and childbirth.

All over Nigeria, the work of our male allies is making a difference for women. In Kano and Kaduna States, male members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers provide emergency transportation to health facilities for women in labor. This project has helped save the lives of many women who otherwise would have died as a result of pregnancy-related complications. The men who are involved in these activities have reported that they are increasingly more appreciative of the value of childbearing and the importance of their own supportive roles. They will likely not treat their pregnant wives the way the men in my mother’s life treated her.

Men’s active participation in caring for their wives, girlfriends, or mistresses during pregnancies is key to finding solutions to maternal mortality challenges in Nigeria. Men can and should play a role in addressing maternal mortality in Nigeria. Many a time, the lack of care and love exhibited by men towards the pregnant women in their lives makes childbearing a traumatic and risky venture for women.

No matter how well equipped our hospitals may be, if the care, love, and support of men is missing, efforts at reducing maternal death will continue to be a mirage.

Today, I celebrate my mother for her resilience and bravery, and I celebrate all women who labor to bring the next generation into the world. Moreover, I celebrate the men who stand with women to put an end to the deplorable conditions pregnant women face.

Titilope | Nigeria