Ensuring Public Participation In Environmental Impact Assessment Of Development Projects In The Niger Delta Region Of Nigeria: A Veritable Tool For Sustainable Development
Rhuks Temitope Ako
Department of Business Law, Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
Accepted on January 31, 2006.
The sustainable development paradigm is a contemporary necessity for any meaningful development programme. The concept raises critical and germane questions on how the earth’s natural resources can be utilized in the present without limiting the future’s capability to benefit from these same resources. There is the need for the present generation to play active roles in the management of the earth’s resources to achieve optimal benefits and have a stock to satisfy future generations. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process is one of the environmental management tools that ensure that only sustainable projects are developed and those local communities to be affected and other interested parties participate in the process. This paper analyses public participation provisions in EIA legislation in Nigeria with particular attention on its effects on the oil-rich but restive Niger Delta region. The paper highlights legal provisions on public participation in the EIA process in some other developing countries as a basis of comparison to reveal that the lack of active public participation in legislation is not peculiar to Nigeria but common to many developing countries. The paper concludes by suggesting the need to amend legislations to promote active participation in the EIA process as this will benefit all stakeholders in the industry. The Transnational Oil Corporations will be better supervised by local communities; especially with the existing absence of adequate global and national control and environmental protection will be more efficient. Finally, the restiveness in the Delta region will be nipped in the bud where the communities participate in preliminary activities to exploration.