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Lasisi, Adedoyin K.S.
Research and Development Department,
Office of Environmental Services,
Ministry of the Environment,
Lagos State,
The Secretariat,
P.M.B. 21693, Ikeja, Lagos,
Phone No. 234-8028476147,


Like most developing countries, urbanization and industrialization takes place in

Nigeria without proper planning for the environmental effects of such projects. To
put his to a stop, several regulation as been put in place. One of the regulations is the
EIA Decree No. 86 of 1992 now know as EIA act No. 86 of 1992. an important
aspect of the EIA pro cess in Nigeria is the involvement of the public. This process is
clearly stated in Part II Section 25, 32-39 of the EIA act.

The Public involvement takes three forms: the initial consultation during the
assessment process, the public is further committed in the involvement of the EIA
process by a public display of the draft EIA report for 21 days mandatory in the Local
government Secretariat, State Ministry of the Environment, Zonal Offices of Federal
Ministry of the Environment and at the National Office in Abuja, the state of the
public involvement in the participation of the public in review for project that
involved public review.

This paper discusses the involvement of the general public in the various aspect of the
EIA process in Nigeria. A survey was conducted to evaluate the participation of the
general public in the EIA of five major projects carried out in Lagos State. It was
observed that 42% of surveyed participant took part in the 1st stages of the public
participation 26% took part in 2nd stagers, while 65% of surveyed participant did not
see nor read the EIA document before the public review.

Key words: Environmental Impact Assessment; public participation, projects

Urbanization and Development.
During the decades of the 1950s and 1960s, it became increasingly clear that
many industrial and developmental projects were producing, unforeseen and
undesirable environmental consequence. On 1st January, 1970, the United State of
America had the distinction of becoming the first country in the world to adopt
legislation requiring environmental impact assessment on major projects. Since then,
the growth of EIA legislation has been quite phenomenal. Today, in more than 100
countries EIA has become a requirement for project development.

The world Bank defined Environmental Assessment as a process whose

breadth, depth, and type of analysis depend on the proposed project. Environmental
Assessment evaluate a project potential environmental risks and impacts in its area of
influence and identifies ways of improving project design and implementation by
preventing, minimizing, mitigating or compensation for adverse environmental
impacts and enhancing positive impacts.

Apart from this, several definitions has been used over the year to describe the
EIA process. This include: Munn (1979) define EIA as a systematic process that
identifies and evaluates the potential impacts of proposed projects, operations, plans,
programmes or even legislation on the environment. Doe (1980) described
environmental impact assessment as a technique and a process by which information
about the environmental effects of a project is collected, both by the developer and
from other sources and taken into account by the planning authority informing their5
judgement on whether the development should go ahead. Generally, EIA can be put
as a tool that seek to ensure that developmental projects are handed in a way that
impact arising from its activities can be predicted before its implementation.

Environmental Impact Assessment in Nigeria

The process of EIA started in Nigeria after the enactment of EIA Act No. 86
of 1992. The EIA Act makes it mandatory for all projects sponsored by Federal
government, State government, parastatals or agencies or private sector to subject
proposed projects to the EIA process. In Nigeria, the Environmental Impact
Assessment Act No. 86 of 1992 is a Federal Act. The EIA Act empowers the Federal
Ministry of environment (FMENV) (formerly Federal environmental Protection
Agency) to enforcement its implementation. (Akpofure et al 2006)

The National Protectoral Guidelines show practical steps from project

conception to commissioning. The steps are: project proposals, initial environmental
examination (IEE)/preliminary assessment, screening scoping, EIA study, review,
decision making, monitoring, and auditing.

This paper reviews the practice of public involvement in the EIA process, the
using projecting Lagos as case study the constra9insts and the short coming of the ip
resent EIA system and proposes new mechanisms and techniques which are socially
and culturally appropriate in the Nigerian context.

Lagos is a cosmopolitan Nigeria city with a vast human population and a high
concentration of industries. Despite its small land mass (the smallest in the country)
the State continuous to witness the increase of developmental projects. Since the
inception of the EIA law in Nigeria, several project has undergo the EIA process,
figure 2 shows EIA reports carried out in Lagos according to proscribed activities
between 2004 – 2008.

Public Participation in EIA process

Public participation is a process of involving the public in a programme,

project or policy. The inclusion of public participation in such processes is
considered as a requirement:
“all people and all human being……………shall have the right to live
In dignity and freedom and enjoy the fruits of social progress and
Should on their part, contribute to it (UN, 1975).

Over the years, several authors has identified several criteria for effective
public participation and consolidations. They include Glasson et al, 1994, Jain et al,
1993, and UNEP 1978). The criteria include:

(i) identification of the groups I individuals interested in or

Affected by the proposed development;

(ii) the information flow must be two way i.e it must establish
A dialogue between the public and decision makers;

(iii) It must cater for different levels of technical sophistication

And for special interest.

(iv) Project developer (proponent) must provide pertinent and timely


(v) Community members, general public as well as local authorities

Must have access to the decision process.

Public Participation and Consultation in EIA process in Nigeria

The basis for public participation and consultation in EIA process in Nigeria
was enacted in the Environmental Impact assessment Act. No. 86 of 1992. In the Act:
Section 7 and 22 (3) of the Act stipulates that government agencies members of the
public experts in any relevant discipline and interested groups should be given
opportunity to examine and comment on the EIA of a proposed project

Section 25 provides that FMENV should publish a notice setting out the date
and place the mandatory report shall be made available to the public as well as the
deadline and the address for filling comments on the conclusion and
recommendations of the report.
Section 37 provides that mandatory report shall be subjected to review panel
and FMENV shall ensure that (a) the information required for an assessment buy a
review panel is obtained and made available to the public and (b) hold hearing in a
manner that offers the publican opportunity to participate in the assessment.

Based on the act establishing the Environmental Impact Assessment in

Nigeria, it has been observed that the process of public participation in the EIA
process is weak, inappropriate and finals to address the actual issues in the
community. Figure 3 shows the proper participation of the public in Environmental
Impact assessment of project carried out in Lagos State Nigeria.

Inadequacy of Public participation EIA

Studies revealed that various forms of public participation in EIA process has
been practise in many countries. Boyles 1998, revealed that Thailand, Indonesia and
Malaysia, the public are effectively excluded from project planning and decision
making and environmental agencies have difficulty in enforcing EIA requirement
Ortolano and Shepard, 1995, informed that the problem plaguing many EIA
programmes is that public involvement occurs too late to take advantage fully of
information that citizen can contribute concerning values impacts and alternative

As noted by Ortolano and Shepard, 1995, the problem of involving the public
does not confine to developing countries only, even in the United State where public
involvement is formally required under the NEPA process, citizens only have limited
opportunities to influence the scope of an EIA. In most cases, by the time the
opportunities occur, decisions have been made by relevant agencies.

In Lagos, Nigeria, the involvement of the public in EIA process can be

consider as poor and inadequate compared to the provision in the Act that established
the EIA process (EIA Act No 86 of 1992). As earlier mention, the public involvement
in the EIA process in Nigeria takes three forms: the initial consultation during the
assessment process (i.e. EIA study) the public display of the draft EIA report for 21
days mandatory in the local Government Secretariat, State Ministry of the
environment where there project is located, zonal offices of Federal ministry of the
Environment and at the National Office in Abuja , the final stage of the public
involvement is the participation of the public in review for project that involved
public review.

In view of making review the involvement of the public in EIA process a

survey was conducted to evaluate the participation of the general public in the var9os
aspect of the EIA process in Nigeria, with five major projects carried out in Lagos
State as case study. As shown in figure 4, it was observed that 42% of surveyed
participant took part in the first stage of the public participation (during EIA study),
5% took part in second stage (public display), while 10% of surveyed participant took
part in 3rd stage (public review). It was generally observed that not of the surveyed
participant did not see or road the EIA document before the public review (for
projects with public review) and were not informed or have access to records relating
to environmental impact assessments after the panel review or public review which is
contrary to the section 37 of the EIA Act.
The inability of the public to be fully integrated in the EIA process often lead
to delay in project, conflicts and other social and political interference with project. A
typical example of this is the expansion of Lekki-Epe Expressway and Lekki-free
trade export zone where communities raised several issues after the projects has been
issued an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement and certificate).


In order to reduce community conflicts with projects, the public and

communities must be involved in the project at the early stage of the project

However, in other to make on EIA process a solving tools in project

development. The following should be incorporated into the EIA system/process in

(i) involvement of public/community in scoping excise;

(ii) Public consultation during EIA report writing should not be

Restricted to traditional heads, chief and notable people
A community gathering of not less than 100 people must be
Part of the consulting process (The general community should
Not be restricted to administration of questionnaires);

(iii) more community members must be involved in the assessment

of the draft EIA report during mandatory public display.

(iv) Comments of experts must be made available to the public;

(v) A mandatory registry containing all records and information

Produced, collected or submitted in respect of EIA of a project
must be available at the Local government Secretariat where
the project is situated.

(vi) Involvement of NGO, CBO’s and CDA in planning, evaluation,

and monitoring of EIA should be made mandatory.


Public participation in EIA process in Nigeria is mandatory as stipulated in the

EIA Act. However, studies carried out on EIA for project in Lagos revealed the poor
involvement of the public in the EIA process. The lesson from other countries who
have integrated proper public involvement into the EIA process revealed that projects
with proper public involved from the conception of the projects usually lacks conflicts
and delays.

In this light, I hope that the recommendations highlighted above can be

incorporated into the EIA process in Nigeria so as to ensure that project are developed
in quick time without hindrance that has characterized many projects in Nigeria in the
last decade.