It is an established fact that environmental degradation and climate change pose serious threat to human development. CHIKA OKEKE writes on the need for government to collaborate with stakeholders in eliminating harmful practices leading to degradation.
About 43 percent drylands in Nigeria, covering 11 States are currently threatened by degradation, leading to food insecurity, abject poverty and forced migration which contributed to insurgency in some areas.
This is however not unconnected to constant erosion leading to loss of soil fertility, desertification, extreme weather conditions and over grazing by livestock.
To this end, stakeholders at the just concluded International Environmental Roundtable for Africa (IERA) drew the attention of Africans on the need to combat the spate of man-made ecological disasters and unwholesome environmental practices plaguing the continent.
The IERA is organised annually on 1st September by Green Life Magazine with the theme, “Curbing Environmental Degradation and Climate Change through Activism’.
In his address, the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril was optimistic that the ministry would put in place proper machinery to discourage people from indiscriminate logging saying that the essence of launching the Eco hub website was to broaden the communication network with state ministries of environment who are closer to the grassroots.
“Whatever we do, we make sure that it’s given wider publicity through our Press department and social media engagement as well as the state government to sensitize people especially the grassroots on the need to end desertification.
Jibril noted that the ministry is in active partnership with National Orientation Agency (NOA) which has offices in 774 local government areas to further help in disseminating information to enable them achieve their goals.
He revealed that Nigeria is currently losing 1.5 million trees daily to logging saying that independence of forest cover its barely 5 per cent as against the initial 40 per cent.
He said that federal government has suspended tree logging and exportation of processed wood until right policies are introduced to plant back logged trees.
According to him, “Before you can begin to cut and export, you must be prepared to plant logged wood so that as you are cutting one, you are growing ten. If you don’t do that, there will be no equilibrium and there will be disaster in the environment.
Jibril maintained that until Nigeria finds alternative to firewood that it would be difficult to stop cutting of wood even as he called on forestry research institutes to embark on more research that would aid in protecting the forests.
The Founder of Fight Against Desert Encroachment, Dr Newton Jibunoh emphasized the need to look for African solution to Africa problems adding that desertification is currently affecting the rainfall.
“The rains have become acidic as a result of pollution emanating from a number of degradation which is also affecting our life expectancy.
Also, the Acting Deputy Executive Director (Technical), Environmental Protection Agency Ghana, Ebenezer Appah-Sampsong maintained that Ghana is seeking ways of implementing coal as an addition to their energy infrastructure.
He noted that activism has changed a lot of issues in Ghana saying that the focus of Ghanaian government is to mainstream natural resources into national development framework.
On his part, the former President, Nigeria Environmental Society (NES), Mr Uche Agbanusi regretted that Nigeria which is located in Savanna region is losing trees daily to logging, which he attributed to the inability of locals to comprehend the language of ‘ environmental degradation’.
He said the message should be communicated to locals using their preferred language stressing that without considering the people’s cultural practices and integrating them into development plans that such projects were bound to fail.
The Business Executive, Infrastructure and Abuja Business of Sterling Bank, Mr Ehi Mondritz Ebhohimhen said the bank has strategic partnership with private and public sector like Lagos state in waste management.
He pointed out that sterling bank is currently working with waste management agencies in 15 states adding that the bank has donated kits to Lagos state Waste Management Board (LAWMA) for street cleaners.
While encouraging more activist to engage in environmental issues that would help in reshaping the environment, he argued that if Nigerians cannot sustain the environment that they could hardly sustain themselves.
In his contribution, the Managing Partner of Prigem Concepts Limited, Mr Olumayowa Owa regretted that our environment has witnessed horrific alteration since the advent of civilization saying that felling of trees results to 35% loss of forest cover.
“Balanced eco-system is a function of a properly kept forest reserve and vegetation, therefore our activities should be geared towards achieving the objectives of making the environment and the eco-system balanced since we have enough forestation to carter for the excessive CO2 and other harmful gases.