{Full Text} – Gov Idris Wada’s speech at the 2014 National Environment Sanitation Day

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It is with a delightful pleasure that I welcome to Kogi State, the Honourable Minister of the Environment, Mrs. Laurentia Laraba Mallam and her entourage, on the occasion of the commemoration of the 2014 National Environmental Sanitation Day (NESD 2014), which Kogi State is privileged to host this year.

I admire and commend the Honourable Minister and her Ministry of Environment for mobilizing stakeholders to this programme in furtherance of the objective of having a healthy, safe, pleasant and sustainable environment. This sensitization programme is also significant, particularly at this period of the year when a lot of unhealthy materials are moved around and dispersed indiscriminately as a result of rain fall and the attendant debris and storm water that flow along with rain water.
As a State that came out of a debilitating flood disaster recently, we have carried out a post-disaster audit, which revealed that indiscriminate dumping of refuse, blocked drains and sub-standard drainages aid flooding. Consequently, we have consciously desilted drainages in Lokoja metropolis and we have also embarked on continuous sensitisation of the public to the dire consequences of unwholesome and unsanitary practices. The sensitisation walk to be conducted by participants this morning and the other programmes that have been lined up for this commemorative activity will no doubt create further awareness and amplify the need to make our environment “our health”.

It is important for me to seize this moment to express due appreciation to the Federal Ministry of Environment. The National Assembly, National Emergency Management Agency and other corporate bodies for helping us when the state was flooded in 2012.

During the period of the disaster, our State, popularly referred to as the Confluence State nearly turned into a Confluence of Challenges. I am happy to note, however, that in consonance with the character of our State, we did not allow that disaster to defeat us. Rather, we turned the rich alluvial deposit occasioned by the flood into a massive programme of dry season rice farming, for which the State was rightly acknowledged and highly commended. Even disasters represent opportunities in this uniquely blessed State.
Since the inception of this administration, we have taken conscious and sustained interest in our environment. As an expression of our commitment to a healthy and sustainable environment, we took the remarkable step of developing a dump site which was the first to be established since the creation of this State nearly 24 years ago.

Though experts have said that the operation of a dump site is not the ideal goal, the creation of the dump site symbolises our practical commitment to addressing sanitation issues in the State. It also demonstrates our movement toward the ideal, with the understanding that transformation is a process and not a project.
It is in furtherance of this pursuit that we are also flagging-off today, a Waste Recycling Plant to be established in Lokoja by Cana Resources Ltd. A partnership agreement between Kogi State and Cana Resources Ltd was signed on 2nd April, 2014. By the time this project is on stream, we would be recording the dual advantage of not only having a standard waste management system, but an environmentally friendly and compliant State Capital.

As part of the pragmatic steps we are taking to enhance the physical appeal and the structural outlook of the urban areas in our State, we recently signed a $1.3m Agreement with UN HABITAT, for the structural plans of many of our urban areas, with a view to making them better structured and more resilient to future environmental threats. The effects of this initiative will start to manifest in no distant future.

Furthermore, in pursuit of environmental protection, we recently placed a ban on all logging activities in the State due to Government’s observation of the gross abuse of the forest resources in the State. The ban has been lifted, but with the benefit of hindsight, the temporary ban has afforded us the opportunity to institute strict regulation into the exploitation and management of our forest resources. We have also made it mandatory for loggers to plant at least five trees for every tree they fell to conserve our natural resources and to complement the tree planting campaign in the State.

Honourable Minister, I have highlighted some of the activities this administration has undertaken as a demonstration of our commitment to a sustainable environment. Please be assured that you have in us a State that is already converted to sound environmental management practices.

Judging from the Memorandum of Understanding concluded with many investors, and from the record of a few industries already operating in our State, there is no doubt that other environmental challenges like pollution obviously lies ahead. However, with our proactive disposition, the enlistment of the technical expertise of investors in environmental enterprise and our continuous engagement with the Federal Ministry of Environment and other stakeholders, we are confident that we can put all these challenges under effective control.

We thank you once again for choosing Kogi State as the host of the 2014 National Environmental Sanitation Day. I wish you all our guests a pleasant stay in Kogi State and a successful accomplishment of all activities that have been planned for this event. It is my privilege, honour and pleasure to kick off the 2014 National Environmental Sanitation Day.

Thank you for your attention.

God bless you all!