Amina J. Mohammed and Ibrahim Uman Jibril were appointed as ministers by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 11th of November 2015 to lead the Federal Ministry of Environment. They are, among others, to ensure policy implementation on environmental protection, natural resources conservation and sustainable development.
The ministers, having toured some parts of the country and being part of some international meetings and conferences, settled down to carry out their responsibilities out of which many commitments and achievements were made.
One year into the job, the United Nations Secretary-General-designate, António Guterres on Thursday announced the appointment of Amina Mohammed as the United Nations Deputy Chief, on his assumption of office as the ninth boss of the global organisation come January 2017.
Speaking at a briefing to mark their one year in office and in preparation to assume office at the UN, Amina disclosed that the 2016 federal budget was not reflective of the level of work needed to be done in the environment sector.
“Our capital budget is N4.9 billion of which N1.457 billion was released as of September amounting to 29.5 per cent which has been 96 percent utilised,” she stated.
Giving an account of the work done in her one year in office, the minister identified the implementation of UNEP report on Ogoniland remediation as among major decisions reached.
The actions taken after the presidential launch so far, according to her, include the setting up of governance structures including legal and financial structures to promote accountability and administrative structures for recruitment and procurement.
Another feat, she said is the cleanup of lead poisoning in Shikira community Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State in partnership with the Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) an international medical humanitarian organisation.
The community was devastated by lead poisoning in 2015 resulting in the loss of 30 lives and adverse health condition for over 300 people mostly children below the age of five.
Amina also initiated the process of issuance of the first ever sovereign Green Bonds in the world by 1Q 2017, which underscores government’s commitment to finance its National Determined Contributions (NDCs) while taking climate action.
The minister said the environment ministry, through the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), in collaboration with the World Bank, completed 72 erosion and flood control projects in 26 communities and 19 NEWMAP participating states aimed at protecting lives and property.
Also, a strategic plan on solid waste has been developed to implement the policy on waste management and the Clean and Green programme as well as redesigning of the National Clean Cooking Scheme to provide clean cooking practices to Nigerian women.
The minister has made a lot of commitments that the ministry is working to implement in 2017, which include the implementation of the NDCs sector roadmaps, launch of Green Bonds, to resuscitate the Lake Chad, strengthening and enforcing regulatory functions and increased efforts to reclaim the desert through a new and improved Great Green Wall (GGW) strategy amongst others.
While the new UN deputy chief leaves the domestic environment to make her inputs at the global level, she maintains that her keen interest in Nigeria’s environmental progress will not abate.
She said her departure from the ministry will not reduce any of the commitments or achievements targeted for the present administration.
The minister noted that her departure was perhaps the most difficult decision she has to take saying, “To step down at this point to go to the global level that the president has convinced me is better for this country is painful.
“I don’t believe that the Ministry of Environment will in any way be softening in its activities, in fact I believe my replacement will do even better, and with the minister of state, they will take the achievements to a greater height.”
While reiterating the federal government’s commitment to protecting the environment to achieve sustainable development, Mohammed said commitment of the Ogoni cleanup and other works embarked on are legacies which would outlive her time in office.
“We are privileged to have two ministers and the work I have done would not have been a success without the other side of my team which is the minister of state. So everything I do, the results you see and the passion you see, are not only about me, they are about me and the minister of state,” she said.
The Director General of GGW, Goni Ahmed, speaking to journalists on the intended new GGW strategy, said they are expanding it beyond the government to engage private and international organizations.
“We got the European Union, FAO to come in and participate. We are going to jointly show the support for Great Green Wall to few communities and states joining forces to see that we arrest the issue of desertification and improve the livelihood of the people,” he said.
While noting that the mandate of the agency is being carried out effectively, he pointed that the minister had clearly stated that for them to effectively perform their duties, they were going closer to the operational area by relocating to Kano.
He said: “By next year we are going to open an office in each of the states and go down to the local governments to ensure that we have the roots properly on the ground to achieve success.”
However, Goni said his office and few departments would remain in Abuja to abide by the Act establishing the agency while the operational activities would be in Kano.