• Friday, May 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

FGs committees on environmental statistics is superfluous

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It was recently reported that the federal government has inaugurated two committees to collect and collate environmental statistics across Nigeria. The committees are the National Steering Committee and the National Technical Committee for Environmental Statistics.

According to the report, the committees, which were inaugurated by the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Laurentia Mallam, in Abuja, would ensure a healthier management of the environment by providing credible and reliable data. The Minister was reported to have stated that the inauguration became necessary following the release of the revised Framework for the Development of Environmental Statistics by the global Statistical Commission for member countries of the United Nations. The committees would ensure that environmental statistics at national, regional and global levels were established, adding that this would result in the production of environmental and sustainable development indicators.

The terms of reference of the National Steering Committee would include, among other things, to map out strategies for implementation of the UN revised FDES, garner political support, advocacy, legislative requirements and financial assistance.

Similarly, the terms of reference of the National Technical Committee will include national self assessment on capacity for the development of environmental statistics and methodology to be adopted for the development.

No doubt, the importance of environmental statistics to Nigeria’s sustainable development cannot be over-emphasized. Environment statistics produce the basic data on the state of the environment and on human activities responsible for environmental deterioration and improvement. It is the application of statistical methods to environmental science. It covers procedures for dealing with questions concerning both the natural environment in its undisturbed state and the interaction of humanity with the environment. Thus weather, climate, air and water quality are included, as are studies of plant and animal populations. Furthermore, environmental statistics covers a number of types of study such as baseline studies to document the present state of an environment to provide background in case of unknown changes in the future; targeted studies to describe the likely impact of changes being planned or of accidental occurrences; and regular monitoring to attempt to detect changes in the environment.

We know that the Statistics Act (2007) empowered the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) as the main National Agency responsible for the development and management of official statistics, the authoritative source and custodian of official statistics in Nigeria. Also, we are aware that all the federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have departments of Planning, Research and Statistics (PRS) that were established to generate administrative statistics relevant to their MDAs.

Thus, there are enough platforms to collect and collate statistics in Nigeria including environmental statistics. The NBS is in a better position to collect and collate environmental statistics as well as monitoring to detect changes in environment on a continuous basis instead of panels and committees that may collapse at the exit of the minister.

Consequently, we believe that the two committees inaugurated by the minister is a waste of resources; therefore, let the federal government adequately fund the NBS  to expand its activities to generate more timely statistics across all sectors; as well as empower all the relevant PRS departments in the MDAs to collect and collate environmental statistics across Nigeria. And in addition, let ministry of environment may liaise with the NBS to collect and collate the relevant statistics required by the ministry instead of duplicating efforts.