The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) has commenced the process of ensuring all-inclusive environmental compliance and enforcement to halt air pollution in the country.
Director General of the agency, Prof Aliyu Jauro, said yesterday, at its 9th regulatory dialogue on the Implementation of National Environmental Regulations in Abuja that the agency proposes to assess the level of implementation of regulation that seeks control of air pollution.
He said the global report by the Health Effects Institute (HEI) that Nigeria has the highest burden of fatalities from air pollution in Africa and ranked the 4th most polluted country of the world has become a thing of great concern.
"It is estimated that in every 100,000 deaths 150 are attributed to air pollution. Of particular concern is the recent rising of black soot particles in the air in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, leaving soot residue on surfaces in and out of homes," he said.
The NESREA boss noted that in their quest to improve the air in Nigeria, that they have successfully banned the importation of two stroke engines in low powered applications such as motorcycles, mopeds, marine outboard motors, gardening equipment and chainsaw.
He said the agency has also embarked on public awareness campaigns including the production and distribution of materials on air pollution control, adding, "We are also in the process of establishing the National Vehicular Emission Control Programme and National Generator Emission Control under a private partnership arrangement.
In her keynote address, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Environment, Mrs Ibukun Odusote, said the dialogue has become important and benefits from public participation in environmental governance in line with attaining sustainable development.
Represented by the Director of Environmental Assessment Department in the ministry, John Alonge, she said air pollution is a major global concern caused mainly by various activities of man in pursuit of economic activities such as emission from industries, bush burning and burning of fossil fuels among others.
"It's devastating consequences affect every living creature and is directly responsible for major environmental issues like climate change, acid rain, depletion of ozone layer, smog etc.Our hospitals are increasingly crowded with air pollution related cases manifesting in severe respiratory tract problems," she said.
While noting that the Federal Government has taken necessary measures to ensure that air pollution and other environmental challenges are controlled, she said care for the environment is a moral obligation, an ethical belief that everyone should protect those things that they all share, like air, water and land.
"We can act now to reduce our carbon emission, slow the pace of air pollution and pass safer, healthier Nigeria to our children or we can choose nothing, continue pumping massive amounts of carbon into an already overloaded atmosphere and suffer costly consequences," she said.