PUBLIC HEARING : AKHA Move To Repeal Year 2000 Environmental Law
As part of legislative process to ensure the smooth passage of the updated ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND WASTE MANAGEMENT AGENCY BILL into a Law, the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Environment, today, organized a Public Hearing were relevant stakeholders converged to brainstorm on issues and contribute their quota towards the actualization of the Bill.
Setting the tone for the event, the Chairman House Committee on Environment, Rt. Hon. Asuquo Archibong while making his opening speech, welcomed all the stakeholders and the public for honouring the invitation of the House of Assembly.
The Chairman who was ably represented by his deputy, Rt. Hon. Mark Esset said that the Bill seeks to address the key issues of ‘Waste Management” in our State and that is the reason the House found it necessary to invite all the stakeholders to contribute their technical-know-how.
Esset who is also the Lead Sponsor of the Bill, stressed that the main gathering of the event is to review the law of waste management process in the State to make it meet the global best practices.
While declaring the event open, the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey commended the proactiveness of all the members of the 7th Assembly whom he said have not relented in their efforts to perform the core responsibility of lawmaking, oversight and representation.
Speaker Bassey, represented by the member representing Eket State Constituency, Rt. Hon. David Lawrence stressed that the Bill is essentially concerned about how best to protect our environment through proper and effective management of waste by a duly authorised and established Agency of government.
In his presentation, the Honourable Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Charles Udoh commended the Lead Sponsor and co-sponsors of the Bill, affirming that the Bill is apt and timeous.
Sir Udoh reiterated the fact that the Ministry of Environment and the Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency are working in synergy.
Also making his presentation, Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency (AKSEPWMA), Obong Prince Akpan Ikim appreciated His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel who he said, his vision crystalized AKSEPWMA and he further thanked the Governor for giving him the privilege to man the Agency as the Chairman.
Obong Ikim went memory lane by recounting that since September 5th, 2018 when the Agency had a rebirth, it has been on a consistent path of recording greater strides as a fine contributing arm of the State Government.
According to Prinz Ikim, since the Agency experienced a rebirth under his watch as the Chairman, AKSEPWMA, “we have convincingly reckoned with countless specific achievements as a result of deliberate functional and logistic inputs in growing the Agency”.
Ikim enumerated some of the recorded achievements, though not exhaustive, to include, the Sustained Awareness Education, improvement of the sustained monthly sanitation exercise from 14% in 2017 to 65% in 2020.
Furthermore, Prince Ikim noted the reduction of flood menace through timely and purpose driven vigorous desilting of drains across the metropolis, which he said, has increased from 27% in 2017 to 78% in 2020.
The Agency Chairman remarkably reechoed the fact that Akwa Ibom State has maintained the top lead as the cleanest State in Nigeria, this he said, was achieved in quick succession in 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively.
Ikim stressed that the present review of the agency’s Law 2000 which he said is coming twenty years after it came into existence needs to stand the test of times in view of the sustained completion Agenda mantra and the coming to stream of the Ibom Deep Seaport Project, Liberty Free Trade Zone etc. that will further open up the State and the country at large to greater developmental heights.
Other stakeholders who made their presentations include the State Attorney General and the Commissioner for Justice, Uko Essien Udom SAN represented Mrs. Ime Ekpo Esq.; Barr. Goddy Umo, Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Service Commission; Dr. Uwemedimo Okon of the Nigeria Conservative Foundation; Otuekong Franklyn Isong of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO); Mrs. Comfort Etuk of the Environmental Society of Nigeria; Prof. James Asuquo et al who individually made salient contributions to the Bill and submitted their memorandum to the Committee Secretariat.
It could be recalled that the Environmental Protection and Waste Management Bill had passed through its 1st and Second reading on the floor of the House, after which the Honourable Speaker committed it to the House Committee on Environment for further legislative duties.
The Bill seeks to repeal the existing year 2000 Law which is adjudged to be outdated and also worthy of note is that, the Bill when passed into law will make the Agency to be more vibrant and more proactive in their responsibilities.
Moreso, the Bill seeks to reposition the Akwa Ibom State Environmental and Waste Management Agency to make it a revenue generating Agency and expunge the part that seeks the members to operate on a part time bases, by so doing this, it will make them to be more committed to their duties, and take their Job very serious.
Members of the House of Assembly present at the Public Hearing include Rt. Hon. (Otuekong) Nse Essien (Onna); Rt. Hon. Uduak Odudoh (Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo); Hon. Mfon Idung (Ika/Etim Ekpo); Hon. KufreAbasi Edidem (Itu); Hon. Effiong Johnson (Mbo); Dr. (Mrs) Charity Ido (Ukanfun); Hon. Udeme Ottong (Abak).