DELTA ASSEMBLY: Ochei’s Address At The Lagos Retreat On Environmental Management
OPENING REMARKS BY RT.HON.(ENGR.)VICTOR O. OCHEI,SPEAKER ,DELTA STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY AT A 2DAY RETREAT FOR MEMBERS OF THE DELTA STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY,ON THE 9TH -11TH OF JUNE 2013 AT RADISSON BLU ANCHORAGE HOTEL,VICTORIA ISLAND, LAGOS.
The Deputy Speaker,
The Majority Leader,
The Minority Leader,
Other Principal Officers,
My Esteemed Colleagues,
Gentlemen of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to welcome you to this year’s annual retreat, which is aimed at further preparing us for the arduous task of making laws for order and good governance of our state as we begin a new legislative year. Retreat, by its nature is a time taken to reflect or meditate on past activities. It is also a period of stock taking, aimed at improving on past performances.
I must, hasten to use this medium to thank you, my esteemed colleagues for your immense support, especially, for your collective and personal sacrifices which you made within the past two years, and which had seen us succeed as a body. This is in spite, of some obvious challenges, though, expected in any human institution, but, which never dampened our collective resolve to succeed. For these my worthy colleagues, I am most grateful.
We must never get tired of appreciating our very hardworking, humane and highly passionate governor, His Excellency, Dr Emmanel Ewetan Uduaghan CON, for truly keeping faith to his 3 point agenda, and which has greatly turned the fortunes of our state in all spheres for the better. We must also, salute his courage for being such a bastion of support and a democrat in ensuring that truly, the principle of separation of power holds sway in Delta State.
The task of law making in a complex state like ours urgently requires that we must take time from our ever busy law making and exercise of over sight functions schedules, to occasionally look back, with the sole aim of improving and also setting goals and agenda for ourselves. This is in line with the well known dictum that un- reflected life is not worth living. Indeed, reflection is part of human activity, this is because, man is at the apex of creation, and through this mental activity, man’s will to achieve, to overcome evils, to surmount difficulties, and to advance the well being of mankind is achieved .
Bearing this in mind, it is my sincere desire, that we will use this period to deeply reflect on issues confronting us in our state and fashion out ways of addressing same, through informed legislation .It is my fervent hope that at the end of this retreat, we would have been better reinvigorated for the new legislative year, which, in all intents and purposes must be aimed at further bringing legislative dividends to our people who daily yearn for laws and adequate supervisory roles that will better their lives.
Distinguished colleagues, while, it is a truism that those of us who sincerely and passionately believe in the very impressive massive development our state is witnessing today, are proud and naturally united in spirit, but a union of mind is not enough. Our will must be unrelenting and concerted, to the end, that the ideals of democracy, which for our people is not an abstract term, but real concrete term, and we shall, within the incoming legislative year, aim to make it more reality among the entire masses of our people.
It is therefore, my humble opinion, that, despite the modest achievements we might have recorded in this outgoing legislative year, indeed, enormous they may look to the generality of our people, they are no more and no less inconsequential to what we shall aspire to bring to the table of our people in this coming legislative year.
My esteemed colleagues, It then behooves on us, as the direct representative of the people, to fashion out concrete ways by which, in concert with the other arms of government, the lives of our people will be made even better, and this, we can achieve, only through proper legislation and exercise of over sight functions .
For, this year’s retreat, we have chosen to discuss an issue that has gradually become a monster in our today’s world, the issue of Environmental Management. The world is today grappling with issues of climate change. For us in Delta state, issues of air , water and land pollution, bush burning, flooding, and gas flaring and so on stare us in the face.
Distinguished colleagues, you may recall that in 1988,the toxic waste dumping incident at Koko, in our state led to the establishment of the then Federal Environmental Protection Agency, this agency produced the Agenda21.It emphasized the rational use of oil and gas resources, industrial pollution management and natural resources conservation. The Agency was also instrumental in getting industrial emission and effluent discharge standard promulgated in order to control air, water, and land pollution.
Ladies and gentlemen, the coming into being of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency(NESREA) as a Parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Environment as established by NESREA(Establishment )Act,2007, after repealing the Federal Environmental Protection Agency Act Cap F 10 LFN 2004 was expected to bring additional vigor in the management of the environment. Going by the mandate of NESREA, it is empowered amongst others to enforce all environmental laws, guidelines, policies, standards and regulations in Nigeria ,as well as enforcing compliance with the provisions of all international agreements, protocols, conventions and treaties on the environment to which Nigeria is a signatory. This ought to have helped environmental protection management, but just as FEPA before it, many doubt, if it has lived up to expectation.
It is thus, with this in mind that we have chosen to critically look at environmental issues in our state, with a view to finding out how to maximize enough gain from it, in our drive towards Delta beyond oil. It is therefore, my expectation, that at the end of this retreat, we would have been able to fashion out laws that will protect our environment and also improve our internal revenue earnings.
Equally, of importance to us, as an assembly is that we must continue to imbibe the essential attributes of the Group Mind Principle. By group mind, I mean ’the synthesis in which the defining elements of the fundamental interest of the respective participants are preserved in the resultant commonwealth, whose legitimacy and mutuality are subscribed to all. If well and when imbibed, my worthy colleagues, it would ensure patriotism and mutuality of interest among citizens; it promotes development and has the potential to eliminate poverty and social strife among our people. It is therefore, my prayer that we will find time outside the core issues of this retreat to introspect with a view to imbibing the cherished principles of the group mind.
Bearing this in mind, this retreat has been carefully packaged to meet the demands of legislating in this age, when our people are yearning for improvement in their social wellbeing, and it is our pact to keep their hope alive by making laws that will meet their ever increasing aspirations.
Distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your attention.
Rt Hon.(Engr) Victor O. Ochei.(FNSE FIAS)
10th JUNE 2013