In a bid to address the environmental hazards and consequent health challenges in Nigeria, environmental experts have stressed the need for proper advocacy on waste management and recycling.
The federal government, state and local governments, as well as Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been encouraged to upscale sensitization of Nigerians on eco-friendly lifestyle for a healthy environment.
This was the crux of the seminar organized by the Chartered Institute of Environmental and Public Health Management of Nigeria (CIEPHMN) and Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN), in Lagos, yesterday.
Speaking at the summit, the Governor of Osun State, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola described the theme of the conference: “Pollution Prevention and Challenges of Environmental Health Management in the 21st Century” as apt and a major global socioeconomic challenge.
The Osun State Governor, who was represented by the State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu, observed that the challenges are multifaceted, raging from ocean acidification, sea-level rise and increased storm surge, harm to agriculture and forests, species extinctions and ecosystem damage.
“Some of the effects of greenhouse gas pollution facing many industrialized countries and developing nations across the world, with resultant economic and social menace come from environmental problems. World Health Organization (WHO) in its recent estimate posited that roughly 25 percent of the disease burden in the developing world is due to environmental factors occasioned by Climate Change.”
“According to WHO, about 1.9 million people, primarily children, died in 2004 from inadequate access to clean water and sanitation, with additional 2 million people, mostly women and children, die each year from exposure to indoor air pollution from cooking with solid fuels such as wood, dung, and charcoal,” he said.
To address the menace, he admonished experts, all tiers of government as well as private sector players to play a role in the quest to ensure safe and habitable environment for Nigerians.
Also speaking, the Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) Dr. George Moghalu stressed that NIWA has been concerned about marine environment management in the country.
“If you look at our organization in the past few years, all our procurement processes always had provision for the clearing of floating debris from our waterways. We also prioritize the removal of water hyacinth to aid navigation on the waterways. However, we think that there is a need to awaken and enlighten the society on the need to preserve the marine environment,” Moghalu said.
According to him, effective management of the environment is very critical and it remains a great concern to NIWA, even as he noted that the Authority is already doing a lot to sensitize those in coastal areas via various area offices across twenty-six states in the country.
“Nigerian inland waterways aren’t dumping ground for refuse and it’s high time we change our behavioural tendencies that destroy the marine environment,” the NIWA boss said.
At the event, Lagos State Commissioner of Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello assured that the Ministry would expand its sensitization campaign via the media and street storms on proper waste disposal, managing the marine environment and other environmental issues.
Bello, who was represented by Mrs. Toyin Oguntola, noted that the Ministry already had a platform for robust engagements with representatives from local governments, but encouraged the participants to lead the change by prioritizing clean and serene environment and teaching others to do same.
On his part, the Chairman of CIEPHMN Board of Fellows, Prince Yemisi posited that Nigeria had reached a point where all citizens must begin to think about how to contribute to the society.
His words: “We have to take this issue very serious because we aren’t immune from the effects of abandoning the marine environment. We should encourage recycling and motivate artists to produce artworks from waste like plastic bottles. Recycled art is highly promoted in developed countries not because it’s more beautiful but because it contributes to recycling wastes.”
“Wastes could destroy humans by changing the eco-system and affecting the climate. In France, they have recorded 38 degrees body temperature whereas the ideal rate should be 36-37degrees. The change in the environment in France was what led to the changes in human temperature. We should help educate Nigerians on the impact and consequence of neglecting the environment. Climate change is real.”
In his welcome address, the Director General of CIEPHMN, Dr. George Ayoade noted that the Institute has further restructured the professional courses to become more standardized.
Ayoade also revealed that the Institute signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Rivers State University and similar partnerships with Littoral University, Republic of Benin for Academic and Professional Exchange Programmes; Uka Tarsadia University in India; as well as partnerships with the National Universities Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and National Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC).
The event also featured induction of new fellows into the Institute even as stakeholders engaged in robust deliberations on the headway for proper waste management and maintaining eco-friendly environment in the country.