…..calls on govt to shun being the coach, captain during environmental conversations

…..says SEJA was formed to bring up challenging issues to where they can be seen and treated

Jerome-Mario Utomi, Programme Coordinator, (Media and Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), has called on the Lagos State Government to lead the movement against environmental injustice in the state.

Utomi made the call while speaking on Tuesday as a panelist at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands, in a panel discussion on “The role of multi-stakeholder engagement in achieving environmental justice”.

Utomi explained that for the nation to make progress in the area of environmental justice, public office holders in the country must shun the ‘culture’ of acting as both coach and captain when discussing environmental issues with enlarged stakeholders.

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While noting that ‘engagement’ and collaboration have been overused by those in the position of authority without commensurate achievement, Utomi insisted that public office must imbibe the virtue of humility and seek assistance and expert knowledge when necessary, to solve the nation’s environmental nagging challenges.

He praised the Lagos Government’s appreciable efforts in promoting environmental justice in the state but however called on the government to do more by leading the movement to stamp out all forms of environmental injustice in the state, noting that SEJA was formed to help bring out challenging issues to where they can be seen and treated.

The top class discussion which had participants drawn from Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA), members of Civil Society Groups and community leaders among others, was held at Victoria Crown Plaza Hotel, 292b Ajose Adeogun Street, Victoria Island Lagos, Nigeria.

Utomi who was at the gathering in his capacity as the programme coordinator (media and Policy), of the foremost human rights group, further used the opportunity provided by the gathering to share the organization’s experience in promoting environmental justice in the country and Lagos State in particular.

Describing the gathering as deeply valuable, engaging and enriching, the Media and Public Policy Expert added that the discussion formed part of training on Environmental Justice: “Reducing Ecological and Social Inequalities through Effective and Participatory Land Governance.”