Economic reason has been identified as being responsible for the massive harmful done on the environment in the country and none implementation of the necessary legal framework to protect it.
The Director of a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Mr. Nnimmo Bassey made the assertion weekend at a workshop held at the University of Uyo (UNIUYO), Akwa Ibom State.
He said Governments at all levels, multinational and local companies as well as individual were guilty in this direction as they have played major roles in creating negative impact on the environment now tagged as climate change.
Speaking on the theme “Unpacking Re-Source Democracy” he said rising consumption and wastages had led to massive extinction of species and severe environmental change; some of which might well be irreversible.
Environmental degradation, he said disrupts our linkages to nature, shrivels our humanity and throws us into unhealthy rivalry and struggles to whatever goods remain. “It alters our thought patterns and social relations.
“The arrival of crude oil and petroleum resources literally poisoned and damaged our environment, economy, politics and socio-cultural relationships. Agriculture got ignored, manufacturing got side-lined and all eyes go riveted on US dollars flowing into the national pot”.
“Re-Source Democracy requires that we train our eyes to see what nature has presented to every community and to what extent the communities are involved in decisions that affect the exploitation, protection or use of the re-sources in their territories.
“It requires that no one gets killed or colonized simply because of such endowments. It requires that we question how what we have is utilised and on what basis. It is about our right to life, freedom from contamination and respect of the rights of mother earth.
“We have hopes that unpacking the concept of Re-Source Democracy will provide us with ideas on how to redirect the nation form divisive and exploitation pathways and provide the platforms for truly democratic relationships with each other and with nature.
In his paper, “Economic Roots of Re-source Democracy”, a one-time Commissioner of Economic Development in Akwa Ibom state, Professor Chris Ekong urged the Federal Government to tackle the root cause of environmental degradation across the country in order to avoid environmental disaster as a result of climate change.
He said it was now to recognise and establish the root cause of environmental resource misuse with a view to charting a course of action for sustainable use of these resources to save the mother earth from obvious adverse effect of environmental degradation.
He noted that before now, discussions and actions had always centered on the end-use of the environment and had been mostly reactive to environmental actions arising from misuse.
“Attention had not been really focused on the root cause of environmental misuse. We can only solve the impending problem if we know the root cause.
“Also, attention had been focused in recent times more on big corporation as agents of environmental degradation without a corresponding look at the local population and government’s inability to initiate and enforce rules.
Prof. Ekong warned that unsustainable use of resources will result in resource depletion and possible extinction saying careful assessment of environmental resource use in the country indicated brazen exploitative use of major resources including wood, wildlife, oil and gas, and minerals by government, private business sector and local populace.
Regrettably, he said in many cases no legal instruments were put in place to regulate use of those resources declaring that in areas where such legal instruments were put in place there was no enforcement.
Because of the fear that economic growth will not lead to an improved environment, he said it therefore requires a much targeted policy and attitudes to make sure that economic growth is compatible with an improving environment.
Ekong equally posited that the Federal Government should come up with a comprehensive and verifiable legal framework and instrument for use of environment resources in the country, with detailed guidelines on implementation and enforcement.
Also, he said environmental education should be encouraged and incorporated into the educational curriculum from primary level as lack of appropriate knowledge might have led the populace into their indulgence or aiding and abating environmental degradation and other crimes against the environment.