Funmi Olaitan, Ibadan
Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment, Mrs Oluremi Tinubu, Tuesday bemoaned low budgetary allocation to Federal Ministry of Environment and some of its agencies, calling for more financial support to assist them in the discharge of their responsibilities.
She said this when she led members of her committee on a courtesy visit to Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, in Ibadan, as part of the committee’s oversight function to the state.
Tinubu, expressed particular concern about Forest Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), Ibadan, an agency under the ministry, which she said had done tremendous work in the area of afforestation as a remedy to natural challenges occasioned by loss of trees to industrialization.
She said, “Budgetary allocation to Federal Ministry of Environment is very low, while research institutes under the ministry are also in dire need of funds in order for them to operate optimally.
“To mitigate effects of climate change, the research institutes are important and have a lot to do, especially in the areas of flooding, desertification and even the gully erosion that is fast ravaging South-East Nigeria.
“They need proper funding to operate optimally for seedlings and other areas that are paramount in the research process. So, government has to look into that while Nigerians have to be shown the advantages of the work of the ministry.
“Recently, weather has been very hot as a result of climate changes, but here in Nigeria, we are blessed with trees which can do so for us in the area of stopping erosion.”
She added that the ministry and its agencies were in the eyes of the world organizations like UNESCO and United Nations and would serve the nation better, if properly funded.
Tinubu, while noting some of the challenges facing the environment, however said rather than being discouraged, efforts should be made to confront the challenges, adding “they (challenges) are many but are surmountable with proper funding and legislative monitoring.”
She later presented the new Act that would enable smooth operations of the ministry and its agencies and help in combating negative effects of climate change, to the governor.
Mr Ajimobi, in his response, called for support for the ministry of environment at the federal and state levels, as well as their agencies to help them face challenges of nature.
He said there were inter-related opportunities between ministry of environment and the ministry of agriculture, adding that they both had positive effects on humanity in terms of ameliorating effects of climate change on the environment, financial empowerment to farmers and job opportunities for the young populace.
While ruing the negative effect of flooding on the lives of the people, Ajimobi noted that Ibadan metropolis had suffered a lot from natural disasters before the emergence of his administration due to low funding for the state ministry of environment and its agencies by successive administrations.
The governor said the state had escaped the annual destructive impact of flooding since 2012 due to the proactive measures taken by his government to forestall flooding.
He lauded the committee for legislating on the regulatory acts which, he said, would ensure that the ministry and its sister agencies operated without hindrance.
He said, “The new Act enabling ministry of environment and its agencies to operate with high impact on the society has come at a very good time when the whole world has been waiting for this kind of succour to mitigate effects of flooding, heat and desertification.
“It is imperative to give our support to ministry of environment and its agencies because of their impact on our survival.
“The three tiers of government must make it paramount to fund these institutions for our own sake. Look at our situation in Ibadan we have been able to conquer flooding due to our concentration on funding and monitoring of projects on dredging, construction of bridges and regulations on indiscriminate dumping of refuse.
“This new Act or regulation book will go a long way to assist these agencies to make our environment and humanity to have sustainable peace. Environment to us is very key.
“It is everything. We lay a lot of emphasis on environment and we believe we have been vindicated for doing so as Oyo State, especially Ibadan is no more suffering from flood.”