National Political Reform Conference – Report of the Committee on Environment and Natural – Resources Reforms
National Political Reform Conference
Report of the Committee on Environment and Natural
• The Subject of the Committee’s assignment is among the most
emotive in the conference as shown during the debates and
interventions at the plenary session before the committees were
• The same passion was exhibited in the Committee but in a very
mature and friendly manner – there was no doubt in the minds of
the members that Nigeria was foremost in all the Committee’s
• Even the media joined the frenzy of the debate and it is reckoned
that the Committee has received more media attention than any
other committee, and they are still writing.
• The Committee resisted the possibility that issues relating to
petroleum, notwithstanding the importance of that product in the
life of the nation, would dominate its entire work to the exclusion
of several other basic issues.
• In its entire work, the Committee was guided by the principles of
Justice, Equity, Fairness, Sustainability, and One Nigeria/One
• The key challenge was to identify the shortcomings in the
management of the Environment and Natural Resources of the
country and propose recommendations for rectifying the same.
• The sub-challenges were: (i) to raise the two themes of
Environment and Natural Resources high on the consciousness of
Nigerians at all levels; and (ii) to make recommendations that will
result in actions and not be merely filed away as another “nice”
• The Committee considered and rejected the idea of breaking into
sub-committees for addressing the various parts of its assignment.
It rather worked together as one body on all substantive issues,
except the report, which was drafted by a sub-committee. The
implication was a slower pace of work but very high level of
involvement and consensus building, notwithstanding that the only
minority report of the conference emerged from this Committee.
• The Committee’s proposal to visit some very acute cases of
environmental degradation in parts of the country was refused by
the Business Committee along with all other travel proposals. That
refusal became the subject of misplaced public impugnity of the
person of the Committee’s chairman by persons speaking in the
name of the South-South People’s Assembly despite that neither
the Committee nor its chairman was involved in that decision.
• The Committee recognised potential overlaps between its work and
those of some other committees but decided to work independently
and leave it to the plenary of the conference to resolve any
differences in views. These committees included Economy,
Revenue Allocation and Fiscal Federalism, Judiciary and Legal
Reforms, Power Sharing, and Models and Structure of
Government. Luckily, the Committee’s views agreed with and
mutually reinforced those of the respective committees on the
fundamental areas of overlap.
Outcome of the Committee’s Work:
• The Committee’s work has resulted in a minimalist report that
focussed on the Review of Laws, Memoranda and Interaction with
Institutions, Agencies and Groups; Statement of the Problems; and
Recommendations. The report is direct, readable, and provides
clarity for action and implementation. Due to the emotive nature of
the assignment, every recommendation and several clauses and
words of the report have been acutely debated and finely balanced.
• A very high level of consensus was achieved on all but one item of
recommendation, which was not accepted by majority vote in line
with the principles of democracy. The rejection of that item led to
the minority report by one person.
• There are some 69 separate items of recommendations on
Constitutional Provisions, Legal and Institutional Framework as
well as 12 other distinct areas on Environment and Natural
• The Committee is disappointed that the document titled Summary
of Committee Reports distributed the previous day reflected only
17 of the 69 recommendations it made. This serious error must
either be corrected immediately or the document withdrawn in
order to avoid any misleading impression. For instance, the
recommendation on section 4.11 item (vii) on the enactment of the
HYPADEC law (Hydro Power Area Development Commission)
• For almost 50 years, petroleum has progressively become the
major source of income for the nation to the neglect of other
resources that abound but remain undeveloped. It has also become
the source of substantial anger, tension, and sense of injustice
regarding the impact of its exploitation on, and the inadequate
participation in the management and enjoyment of its proceeds by,
the affected areas.
• Other than petroleum, there is a broad distribution of other natural
resources around the whole country, which, if actively developed,
will engender a greater sense of contribution and belonging by all
sections of the country, rather than the current perception of
dependence on one section by others. This country is blessed with
a very wide range of Solid Minerals (33 in 450 locations), Water,
Forests and Bio-diversity, Solar Energy, Wind Energy, Fertile
Land, etc, as well as human capital.
• Similarly, because of the present dominance of petroleum,
concerns for the environmental implications of its exploitation (oil
spillage, gas flaring, etc) have tended to overshadow other equally
serious environmental problems in the country. These include
Rapid Desertification, Deforestation, Gully Erosion, Coastal
Erosion, Solid Mineral mining problems, Urban and Industrial
Waste management, Disappearance of Lakes and River Basins,
Impact of Dams, etc.
• The country has failed so far to utilise its petroleum wealth as
driver to diversify the economy and create a greater sense of equity
both in the generation of wealth and in enjoying the benefits therefrom.
This failure has been rightly elaborated upon by the
committee on Economic Reforms, including the citing of examples
of other countries.
Detailed Recommendations, Including Overlaps With Other
• The Committee made a number (in brackets) of recommendations
under the following headings:
• Constitutional Provisions (3)
• Legal and Institutional Framework (11)
• Erosion Control (5)
• Municipal Solid Waste (5)
• Industrial and Air Pollution (4)
• Desertification, Deforestation and Drought (9)
• Oil Pollution (6)
• Gas Flaring (2)
• Biodiversity Conservation (3)
• Mining (3)
• Water Resources (9)
• Mineral Resources (3)
• Hazardous and Toxic Wastes (1)
• Environmental Planning (5)
(Note: The specific recommendations under each heading above as well
as overlaps with other committees’ recommendations were read out as
part of the presentation of this report).
• The Committee acknowledges the high volume of informative
material that was made available to it through the conference
secretariat as well as directly from individuals and organisations.
• The Committee also acknowledges the quality of written and oral
presentations by the resource persons and organisations invited to
appear before it at very short notice. No doubt, they contributed
significantly to the success of its work. Only one organisation
failed to appear and it is possible they never received the letter of
invitation. All unsolicited requests to address the Committee were
accommodated and the contributions were also very helpful.
• The Committee appreciates the interest and support of the
conference leadership and secretariat. Similarly, the Committee’s
secretariat gave dedicated service notwithstanding time constraints
and shortcomings in the facilities.
• On a personal note, the Committee chairman owes inestimable
gratitude to the members of the Committee for the excellent
working spirit that prevailed at all times. Their cooperation made a
very difficult assignment appear less so. They demonstrated that
good follower-ship is an essential factor to good leadership.
H.R.M. Nnaemeka Achebe
Obi of Onitsha
Chairman of Committee
24 May 2005