“Environment is you and I, if you pollute the environment and make it unhabitable, we’ll have no other planet to live on” - Director General /CEO of NESREA, Prof. Aliyu Jauro - Living Environment

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Monday, January 25, 2021

“Environment is you and I, if you pollute the environment and make it unhabitable, we’ll have no other planet to live on” - Director General /CEO of NESREA, Prof. Aliyu Jauro

 


In an Interview, Ada Achanya of Living Environment Magazine interacts with the Director General /CEO of NESREA, Prof. Aliyu Jauro, the Agency solely responsible for ensuring compliance to all environmental laws, regulations, policies and guidelines for sound environmental management of the environment. He shears his vision for the Agency

Excerpts:

Q1: Please tell us about NESREA and your vision for the Agency

National Environmental Standards and Enforcement Agency (NESREA) is an agency of the Federal Ministry of Environment. The mandate of the agency is to ensure compliance to all environmental laws, regulations, policies and guidelines of the environment. We are also responsible for compliance with the provision of International Agreements, Protocols, Treaties and Protection of the environment of which Nigeria is a signatory to. We prohibit the use of any equipment or technology that undermines our environmental quality and the vision of the agency for a cleaner and healthier environment.
So my vision as the Chief Executive Officer of the Agency is to ensure we have a healthy and clean environment and also to leave a legacy at the end of my tenure which is making the agency better where I met it.

Q2: There is so much talk about the Extended Producer Responsibility, a system where organizations contribute towards managing the waste they generate. Can you tell us more about NESREA’s plans to entrench EPR in Nigeria?

Yes, EPR is a form circular economy approach where manufacturers, producers, assemblers and importers of all products are saddled with the responsibility of taking care of these products at the End-of-Life. At this stage, the products become waste and this is where the problem arises; when it becomes waste, people tend to dispose randomly thereby causing a lot of environmental problems. So the agency is promoting the EPR programme, essentially to imbibe a waste hierarchy which is the five R’s - Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle of all wastes. When we do that, we will have waste as a resource instead of a used material looking heading for the dumpsite; it can be taken back into the cycle as a raw material. The essence is to have a circular economy, a loop where no waste is disposed without recycling.
This process will open job opportunities, generate income and raw materials for industrial development.
We have recently introduced the used battery regulations to guide the collection, transportation, storage and recycling of used batteries. The solar energy and telecommunications sector are introducing a lot if batteries to Nigeria, it has become necessary to introduce regulations to manage the battery waste arising from these sectors and others. 
We also have EPR programmes for the food and beverage sector and the electrical and electronic sectors. We hope to introduce this approach for more high polluting sectors.
       
Q3: Nigeria has many laws but usually lacks the will or capacity to enforce them. What enforcement mechanism do you have in place, and does NESREA have the capacity to effectively enforce all its environmental regulations?

Yes, we have the capacity, we have a total of 33 environmental regulations thus far and we are in the process of developing more.
These regulations cut across all aspect of the environment, we have the Brown and Green Sector. The reason for these regulations is to safeguard the environment and spell out the responsibilities of stakeholders, parties, organisations and individuals, including penalties for defaulters. As an agency, we have been doing a lot to see that people comply with the regulations and those who are not willing to comply, we charged to court. 

my vision as the Chief Executive Officer of the Agency is to ensure we have a healthy and clean environment and also to leave a legacy at the end of my tenure which is making the agency better where I met it.

In light of this matter, we have recorded a lot of success and we are doing so much to see that we have a lot of compliance. We are also trying to sensitize the public by getting then to comply voluntarily rather than forcing them because going to court takes time and process. So basically, NESREA is simply safeguard the environment.

Q4: Recently, NESREA’s Act was amended. What were these amendments and how will these strengthen the Agency?

The amended Act was able to give NESREA the power to bite, prior to the amendment the agency was a toothless bulldog but now we are armed to fight. Previously, if there was a defaulter or an individual conducting its operations with potential to endanger the environment, we needed to get a court injunction to seal the facility. But with this amendment, we can preemptively seal the facility before going to the court of law to seek any injunction.
Secondly, most of the penalties stipulated in the previous NESREA Act were very weak, but with the amendment, we have removed the seal so that more penalties can be issued by the Judge based on the extent of the offence, a fine or jail time can be handed down. So the penalties are now more detailed, thanks to the help of the amended Act.

Q5: Finally, Sir as cities urbanize and grow, managing municipal waste becomes a problem for the state and local government. As the national environment agency, how do you partner with sub-national government to help tackle this growing national waste change?

We always partner with them, equally, we have 30 state officers, all these officers work hand in hand with the state ministries of environment and most of them have state environmental protection boards. 
As an agency, we work hand in hand with other stakeholders and also organize the Annual NESREA Stakeholders forum, where we sit down together as a family and look at best practices for executing and implementing environmental guidelines. We also seek the inputs of all state environmental ministries and agencies in the review of our regulations and amendments necessary. Also, with their help, we can ensure effective regulatory enforcement to achieve our collective goals.
Finally, my advice to Nigerians; please let us always do the right thing because environment is you and me, if you litter the environment, you are polluting the environment. The earth is meant for us, so if you make it unbearable, we won’t have another place where we can live. So we must all put our hands together on deck to ensure that we salvage the environment. Do the right thing to have a cleaner and healthier environment for all Nigerians

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