OrderPaperToday – A cat has nine lives is an expression used to describe near immortality, a knack for escaping death.
The Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the Institute of Environmental Practitioners of Nigeria fits the description of that proverbial cat and even more.
It is often said that death is the ultimate end of any creature but not this bill. In the last 17 years, it has ‘died’, ‘resurrected’, and ‘re-incarnated’.
Many environmentalists have been against the bill over the years but have never quite managed to have the last laugh or “see the back” of the bill.
The bill first surfaced in the Senate as a bill to establish the Chartered Institute of Environmental Practitioners of Nigeria but was dropped after it was observed that the bill was a violation of Section 315 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
However, the same bill was re-incarnated in the House of Representatives as an Act to provide for the establishment of the Institute of Environmental Practitioners of Nigeria and other Related matters (HB.13.02.450) and was discontinued for the same reason above.
Nevertheless, the bill has resurrected once more in the current assembly still titled “A bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the Institute of Environmental Practitioners of Nigeria,” and sponsored by Sen. Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos).
Two weeks ago, the University of Sports bill failed to scale second reading in the Senate and agitators against the Institute of Environmental Practitioners bill must have been hoping for a similar outcome but had no such luck as the bill smoothly sailed through second reading last Wednesday.
According to Dr. Emmanuel Ating, a frontline opposition to the bill and President of Environmental Management Association of Nigeria (EMAN), the provisions of the bill indicate that its advocates do not know the requirements for the establishment of a professional body.
He stated that the bill stipulates more than one academic programme or discipline as an acceptable qualification for membership of the institute which is against the provisions of the constitution.
Dr. Ating clarified that if the proponents of the bill wish to establish a regulative council, there is need to choose a specific academic field as the body will be formed by graduates of the profession. He however pointed out that environmental practise is a generic name for town planners, architects, land surveyors, engineers, lawyers, environmental health workers among others.
Another reason for his opposition is that the bill makes provision for non-graduates which means that secondary school certificate and first school leaving certificate holders can be termed as environmental practitioners.
Unlike the controversial NGO bill that has failed to muster any kind of backing outside the National Assembly, the Institute of Environmental Practitioners Bill has it supporters. The Nigerian Environmental Society (NES) and Waste Management Society of Nigeria (WAMASON) say the bill is a means to achieving environmental sustainability and accountability.
The associations believe that the establishment of the Institute would raise competency and improve professionalism in the sector while giving Nigeria access to Green bond, carbon credit and other related green investments and financial aids.
One thing is clear, both sides of the divide have likely have grown tired of the “undying” bill and will hope that the bill can reach its final destination. Only time will tell if that is in the trash can of the National Assembly or on the table of Mr. President.