Desmond Majekodunmi, renowned environmentalist and founder Lufasi Nature Park; David Omaghomi, executive director of Eco-Restoration Foundation; and others have called on government and other stakeholders to put a stop to mangrove destruction and other forms of environmental degradation in Nigeria.
They spoke at the Mangrove Expo in commemoration of the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem at the Lekki Conservation Centre (LCC) in Lagos. The activists lamented the destruction of mangroves, especially in the Niger delta region.
According to Majekodunmi, the mangrove is one of the most valuable parts of the ecosystem.
“Mangroves sequester more carbondioxide than the rain forest,” he noted.
Describing the environment as “our life support system, which we inherited in very good condition and holding in trust for our children”, he called for sustenance of that heritage.
“Our children’s life support system is in our hands. We should not destroy it.”
Omaghomi tagged government the prime suspect in environmental degradation, as it seemed to collude with oil companies through laws that do not allow the environment regulators to perform.
He also fingered the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the conspiracy against the environment. “NNPC should be ashamed of itself as a regulator.”
Lamenting that the mangroves in the Niger Delta are facing extinction, he charged the oil and gas companies to engage in mangrove restoration projects because their activities were destroying the mangroves.
Commending the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) for efforts in conserving the environment, he called on more organisations to be part of the initiative to protect the environment.
While urging security forces in the Niger Delta to be environmentally-responsible, he charged government to stop illegal refiners whose activities release more carbon dioxide and black soot into the environment than flared gas.
The mangroves, according to him, serve as natural groins by preventing coastal erosion.
“One artificial groin costs about N1 billion,” disclosed.
Jerry Chidi, a documentary photographer, who had a photo exhibition on the mangroves at the event, reeled out some of the benefits of the mangrove.
“The mangrove environment has a lot of aesthetic values and appearance; endless expanse of evergreen trees with webbed roots digging in and out of water, the mudflats literally crawling with life; crabs, mudskippers, periwinkles and others make up this ecosystem. Then you see fishing activities everywhere. The mangrove environment is indeed a treasure of resource and beauty,” he said.
Chidi is publishing a book on Man and Mangove, which was previewed at the occasion by Frank Ugiomoh, a professor of Arts, History and Theory from the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), Rivers State.
Previewing the 174-page book that focuses on mangrove forests in Nigeria, the don urged oil and gas companies in Nigeria to give the publisher the leverage to reproduce the book to reach majority of the citizens.
The author told newsmen that the book communicates environmental stewardship.
In his welcome address, Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Director-General of NCF, represented by Joseph Onoja, the Director of Technical Programmes, said the foundation was pleased to partner with Chidi, for the first time to host the event.
“Whatever we think we do, we make an impact on the environment,” he added.
Adedayo Mahmud of NCF, in his vote of thanks, said the event was a call for action to change attitudes.
“NCF cannot do it alone; we are reaching out and we need more partners,” he added.
By Chika Onwuji