THE former Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing II, Surveyor Suleiman Hassan has been appointed as the new minister of Federal Ministry of Environment.
The ex-minister, Ibrahim Jibril, who was recently crowned as the new Emir of Nasarawa, has urged his successor to confront the environmental challenges facing the country.
He spoke during the handover ceremony held on Tuesday in Abuja.
“Everybody knows that within the normal budgetary provision, it will be difficult to address environmental challenges across the country. Therefore, anybody who will be here must put his or her thinking cap to find alternative means of moving the ministry forward and addressing numerous environmental challenges across the country,” Jibril said.
Nigeria is currently battling with environmental problems ranging from gas flaring, oil pollution in the Niger Delta region, erosion mostly in the South East, plastic waste pollution as well as desert encroachment in the 11 northern states among others.
The country currently ranks second globally in open defecation with 25 per cent of the population practising open defecation.
Last October, the ministry commenced a review of the nation’s National Environmental Sanitation Policy after it was first developed and launched in 2005 by the former administration chaired by President Olusegun Obasanjo.
For the Ogoni cleanup, the former minister said the remediation exercise of the polluted land “has gone far,” and expressed hope that it would continue to get the needed attention.
Already, the oil companies have released $180 million for the clean-up exercise, he confirmed.
“I am proud to say that I am going to hand-over to my successor at least $170 million from the escrow account and the details will be sent to him. $10 million will be paid severally. He will see in the handover that we still have about $5 million which is in the domiciliary account of the ministry and about N200 in another account.”
Jibril applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment to the environment sector, describing him as the first president in the history of the country to consistently attend the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 on climate change – Paris Agreement in 2015, Morocco COP22 in 2016 and Poland COP24 in 2018.
He further disclosed that the federal government would establish three additional federal schools of forestry in the country.
In his acceptance speech, the new environment minister promised to address environmental challenges affecting the country.
He also promised to pay more attention to staff welfare, and to the great green wall project as well as combating oil degradation in the affected region.
Hassan, a former registrar at the Quantity Surveyors Council of Nigeria, was the chairman of the defunct Congress of Progressive Change in Gombe State.
He was among the 46 ambassadorial nominees President Buhari sent for confirmation by the Senate last October.