BY CHIKA OKEKE, Abuja
The Senate has pledged to improve the funds allocated to the Ecological Project Office (EPO) for the implementation of its projects nationwide.
This was even as the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio commended the office for its numerous interventions on ecological problems across the States.
This formed the crux of discuss on Thursday during an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Ecology and Climate Change, EPO and representatives from the Ministry of Environment and Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) at the National Assembly, Abuja.
Akpabio said that the interaction was timely especially as the world is focusing on climate change in all its ramifications.
“We are very proud to have the Ecological Office under the Presidency and specifically in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, you have intervened in a lot of projects,” he stated.
The senate president informed that funding is affecting project implementation in virtually all sectors of the economy including the National Assembly.
He advised the Permanent Secretary of EPO, Malam Ibrahim Shehu to prioritise its projects and apply urgency selection procedure in determining project implementation.
“Put urgency above your data collection, let the project execution be based on its urgency especially those that affect lives, “he added.
Akpabio hailed the permanent secretary for informing the national assembly that the office is considering seeking international partnership to support government efforts and expand the scope of interventions.
He hinted that the idea of seeking foreign aids, grants or support resonated with his feelings on improving funding to the office.
The Senate Chairman on Ecology and Climate Change, Senator Seriake Dickson stated that the invitation for an interactive session was meant to get acquainted with the issues confronting EPO and how the senate would intervene in the best interest of Nigerians.
He hinted that the senate is keen on knowing the issues affecting climate change in Nigeria and how the various approach adopted in mitigating them aligns with international best practices.
The permanent secretary of EPO, Malam Shehu Ibrahim explained that its focus in project intervention cuts across the geopolitical spread of the country, including requests from traditional institutions, communities, elected representatives and federal institutions.
Currently, the EPO has completed 304 projects from 2015 till date and over 49 are ongoing across the country.
Ibrahim lamented the public misconceptions about the office, saying that some Nigerians are yet to understand that EPO is an interventionist office while the funds for ecological projects are not domiciled in the office.
He noted that dwindling resources is affecting many proposed projects, as over 5000 requests are currently in its data bank.
While noting that insecurity is one of the challenges militating against the speedy delivery of projects, he harped on the need for collaboration with the states and local government areas in addressing the issues.
He maintained that collaboration would be essential in attracting foreign funding to expand the scope of its intervention.
The Director-General of NiMet, Prof Mansur Bako Matazu and representative of the Minister of Environment spoke on the adaptation and mitigation of climate change, expressing commitment towards reducing greenhouse gases in line with the United Nation’s mandate on climate change.
At the end, the senate president was presented with a copy of the Compendium of ecological projects from 2015 to 2022.
BY CHIKA OKEKE, Abuja