By Dennis Essang, Port Harcourt
The Rivers state commissioner for environment, Mr. Igbiks Tamuno, says Nigeria does not have a national policy on environment to effectively combat environmental hazards and oil spills in the country.
Tamuno, who disclosed this during a book lunch and photo exhibition organised by the Niger Delta Snapshot held at the prestigious Hotel Presidential Port Harcourt. He averred that what is obtainable in the country are regional laws inherited by states from the 1960’s regional government added that the world may see region like the Niger Delta go into extinction in a couple of hundreds of years if no legal framework exists for a concerted approach to combat the impact of oil spills on the ecosystem of the Niger Delta region.
The Commissioner contended that leaving environment policy to State governments alone would not mitigate the real matters like oil spills and gas flares in the country but would further imperil the environment.
According to the commissioner, the impact of oil spills and gas flares on the environment brought about by old and decaying pipe lines laid more than fifty years ago, particularly on the ecosystem of the mangroves forest along the coastal areas of the Niger Delta. He calls for a concerted action by not only states government but by all and sundry and that can only be done with a national policy framework on environment.
On the book launch which captures vivid images of environmental degradation and life on the Niger Delta ecosystem, information and orientation commissioner Rivers state Paulinus Nsirim who was represented by Mr. Celestine Ogolo, a director in the ministry, said the book would create the necessary impact on the region as it touches the heart of issues agitating the minds of the people.
The commissioner, stated that the regret is that people don’t get to read what is put down in writing even as matters on the environment affects everyone.
A member of the panel of discussants, Barr. Iniruo Wills, former Bayelsa state commissioner for environment, agreed that for a sustainable national policy on environment, Niger Delta governors must be bold enough to test the constitutional provisions on the environment in the Courts otherwise, the fight against infractions by oil companies that pollute the environment from their operations may be short lived.
Prof. Nenibarini Zabbey of the University of Port Harcourt said that the country has available data to facilitate a national policy framework for the protection of the Mangroves on the coastal areas of the Niger Delta Region.
While on his part Benjamin Azubuike Ekeke, a professor of forestry, with the Rivers State University holds that the way forward as the world marks the International Day of the Forest, is for the people of the Niger Delta Region to live in harmony with the mangroves forest as a veritable platform for sustainable livelihood.
As part of the celebration of the International Day of the Forest, the convener of the mangrovesXpo2021, Niger Delta Snapshot, plans a five million tree planting flag off Monday, as it urges all who uses the forest to do so responsibly.