Two years ago, the House of Representatives passed a bill banning plastic bags in Nigeria. The bill called for a fine of 500,000 naira or a three-year prison sentence for offenders who offer plastic bags instead of paper bags.
Although this bill has raised dust with Nigerians worried about other alternatives to explore, the country has justified the decision on the adverse consequences of plastic pollution in terms of global environmental issues affecting the marine environment.
Plastic pollution threatens ocean life, food security, human health and contributes to climate change. With about 80 percent of life on earth Found in the oceans, it spans several ecosystems covering millions of square kilometers of the earth’s surface and supporting the more than three billion people who depend on it for their livelihood.
Nigeria is part of this population which depends on the ocean for its livelihood. With coastal towns spread across different parts of the country, the need to preserve Nigerian water bodies from degrading elements such as plastics is critical to sustaining the national economy and development.
TWO YEARS AFTER AND NO ACTION ON THE INVOICE?
As of May 2019, when the bill was passed by the House of Representatives, the Senate has not yet done its part to ensure that the bill is passed and, as such, the bill. law has not been forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for approval.
The need to pass the bill cannot be overemphasized, given the heavy burden of plastic pollution in Nigeria and the danger it poses. In Nigeria, plastics have become commonplace in waste, and the problem they cause reverberates from clogging of the drainage system and flooding, to clogging of roads and streets, to the release of toxic gases in the atmosphere when burned, thus contributing to climate change, sedimentation on body water and food.
As the world celebrated Environment Day 2021 on June 5, the The United Nations says it’s time to prevent, stop and reverse the damage to nature – to move from exploiting nature to healing it. This means that the decade is also the time to shed the devastating impact of plastic pollution in order to restore life in the ocean ecosystem and on land.
The theme of this year’s celebration, âReimagine, Recreate and Restoreâ resonates with the challenge in Nigeria and with the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) – a global mission to revive billions of hectares, from forests to farmlands, from mountain tops to the depths of the sea.
TO WHAT EXTENT IS THE GOVERNMENT COMMITTED TO COMBATING PLASTIC POLLUTION?
In commemoration of this year’s World Environment Day, the Ministry of Environment hosted a virtual meeting on âYouth Response to Plastic Pollutionâ in Nigeria. During the event, Sharon Ikeazor, Minister of State for the Environment, said the federal government is committed to ensuring proper implementation of environmental programs that will encourage modern waste management practices through the development of a national policy on the management of plastic and solid waste.
In January 2021, the government announcement He will join the World Economic Forum’s Global Plastic Action Partnership, alongside Indonesia, Ghana and Vietnam, to advance national efforts to tackle plastic pollution.
In addition, in 2020, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved a Politics on plastic waste management which was presented to him by Muhammad Mahmood, the Minister of the Environment. This policy aims to reduce the litter of plastic waste in the environment and limit the damage to humans and animals, as well as to move from a linear economy where raw materials are used for production and then discarded – to a circular economy – where finished products can be remade and reused.
Government records or plans notwithstanding, legislation is needed not only to ensure lasting solutions, but also to get the government to implement its plans and ensure that violators are punished. As a result, the nation might not make significant progress without legal support such as the plastic bag ban bill seeks to provide.
This story is published in partnership with Report for the World, a global service program that supports local public service journalism.