Manufacturers, producers, operators executives and captains of industries gathered on Thursday to deliberate on addressing issues of environmental implications of the activities of manufacturers as well as cases of duplication and over lapping of policies and regulation by various agencies of the separate tiers of government.
The deliberations took place during the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officers (MD/CEOs) Breakfast Meeting, the second in the series organised by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Oyo, Osun, Ondo, and Ekiti state branch.
The meeting with the theme “Mitigation of Environmental Pollution and Over Regulation of the Industrial Sector for Nation Growth”, held at MAN Secretariat, Jericho, Ibadan.
In his remarks on the level of environmental pollution, the Southwest Zonal Director of the National Environmental Standards And Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Elijah Udofia said many companies fail to comply with government regulations in mitigating environmental pollution due to their operations.
He noted that no fewer than seven facilities were recently sanction and sealed across the Southwest for various infractions that bothers on complying with environmental pollution.
Udofia who was a special guest at the event stated that if companies comply with especially the Environmental Impact Assessment policy before they begin operations, and or do same as required by the aw, volumes and levels of environmental hazards would be largely reduced and controlled.
He said “The level of compliance is very low, we see so many companies trying to evade the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) by not carrying out the due assessment before citing their companies and industries and this is necessary because it will help us to determine the positive and negative impact on the environment so that necessary mitigation and processes can be taken before the citing of the industry.
“What we are seeing today is that so many industries and companies are not complying and the essence or resultant effect of it is that after citing the company, you will see a lot degradation of the environment, and pollution of the environment. Today we are talking about global warming, which has to do with the emission into the environment, the carbon dioxide and the rest of it.
“If EIA was done at the initial stage, it would have taken care of these process and the adverse effect of the company, probably, it would have brought about the right advise of what company should put in place in order to avert likely harmful effects of their operations on the environment.
“That is why we are seeing what we are seeing today because so many companies are not complying but we are not resting on our oasis, we ensure that these facilities comply, and if they fail to do it, they will be sanctioned by the federal government. The law is there and clearly stated.
“We have sanctioned so many companies in time past. As of late last year, for violation of one environmental laws or the other, the agency was able to sanction in Southwest alone, close to 70 facilities which were shut down, advising them to go and do the necessary things they ought to go and do. We are doing it and continuing so.”
Speaking on what the group described as over regulation, the NESREA boss said companies could seek counsel and deal with each agency of the government based on the terms and statutory role of the agency, knowing their limitation and address them based on that.
He urged companies and industries in the region to key into the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) of the agency as a way of ensure they operate under the circular approach as against the linear where waste product are not considered for further reuse.
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“For us as an agency which has regulations on sanitation, we are ensuring that facilities, key under the programme of Extended Producers Responsibility. We are trying to address the issue right from the onset, not a fire brigade approach at the end, right from the onset, we ask companies how they want to take care of their waste even before they start operation, that is the circular approach,” he added.
Explaining the rationale behind the decision to organise the series, the Oyo/Osun/Ondo and Ekiti States branch Chairman of MAN, Mr Lanre Popoola said the forum was created to create an opportunity for members of the interact with policy makers to resolves issues that arose during the course of operation.
He however appealed to the government to help address the issue of power, which he described as the driver of the economy while also urging members of the association to be patience with a hope for a better tomorrow for the sector.
Popoola said “The idea behind the session is to have an interactive session with various government agencies to be able to roll out our mindset, to be able to play some politics of influence of some decisions and to know what is going on among our members. Its just an interactive session with relevant government agencies per time.”
Speaking on overregulation, the MAN branches chairman said “We have NESREA, we have Federal Ministry of Environment, we have the state Ministry of Environment, we have environmental personnel in the local government, all doing the same thing, but different billings, that is why we felt we should know who is regulating what and the functions of the various regulating agencies.
“We are looking at a situation where all these regulations can be harmonised and limited to avoid duplicity, these are the problems we are having and we thought of bringing every body to the table to talk about it to proffer solution.
“The implications of over regulations is that it becomes confusing and as you know, it is a very hard time for manufacturers and with over regulation you are confused as to know what to do and who to go to, leaving us in a dilemma.”
“We have severally appealed to the government and other stakeholders that if we can have access to power, it will reduce our cost, improve our economy, improve our productivity. For now, nobody can control the price of diesel because it has been deregulated. If the government is giving us diesel at a regulated price, fine, but give us light, let our factories be running, so that is just it.
“To the members, we call for perseverance because we are not looking at playing the second fiddle. In other climes, it is the private sector that drives the economy, we should be the highest employer of labour not the government but here it is the other way round. We pacify and we pray for a better tomorrow”, Popoola appealed.