In line with current act of whistle blowing aimed at curbing corruption and recovering the nation’s looted funds, Nigerians have been asked to extend the controversial act to issues related to the management of the environment.
In an address delivered on Monday, June 5, 2017 to commemorate the World Environment Day, Environment Minister of State, Ibrahim Usman Jibril, said: “We sincerely urge everyone to not only continue to ‘whistle blow’ to recover the looted resources of this great nation, but to also whistle blow to expose the illegal exploitation of our natural resources in order to protect our environment.
“It is only when we do this that we will claim to have truly connected with nature and our environment; as well as have the right to proclaim, ‘We are with Nature in Nigeria’.”
He acknowledged the millions of rural people around the country who, according to him, spend every working day “connected to nature”, in terms of their dependence on natural water supplies and how nature provides their livelihoods in the form of fertile soil.
“Indeed, they are among the first to suffer when ecosystems are threatened, whether by pollution, climate change or over-exploitation,” Jibril lamented.
He called on the citizenry to join heads with the government to empower the people, take climate action and protect the environment.
“By tackling head-on the myriad of environmental challenges confronting the country in the six geopolitical zones, we should be able to unlock the investment opportunities and potentials embedded in us towards achieving economy recovery, diversification and growth and by extension sustainable development in Nigeria,” he declared.
Jibril reiterated government’s determination to address the nation’s environment and sustainability challenges, saying: “The Federal Ministry of Environment, having being saddled with the statutory responsibility of formulating policies to regulate the environment sector as well as implement programmes and projects to conserve and preserve the nation’s natural resources, is working assiduously to address the concerns of climate change, drought and desertification, biodiversity loss, deforestation, land degradation, flood and erosion, pollution, sanitation and waste management.
Furthermore, in pursuant of the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda through implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and through the Economy Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) recently launched by the present Administration, the Ministry is repositioned to ‘fit-for-purpose’ and dedicated to deliver on addressing the socio-economic and environmental issues and concerns of poverty, food security, environmental health and sanitation, renewable energy, green economy, sustainable consumption and production, climate change, oceans and eco-systems restoration in the Niger Delta as well as Lake Chad basin and the Hadejia-Nguru wetlands in the North East.”
Harriet Thompson, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, noted that the UK’s commitment to tackling global climate change and the Paris Agreement is as strong as ever.
Her words: “We continue to play a leading role internationally and are delivering on our commitments to create a safer, more prosperous future for us all. The theme today is connecting people to nature, which implores all of us to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and its importance, and to take forward the call to protect the Earth that we share.”
Thompson, who led the UK delegation to the UN climate change negotiations, stated that Nigeria enjoys phenomenal endowments in its land, water and is people.
She said: “Finding ways to support, protect and connect these riches together is how the nation can grow and sustain a brighter future. There are many ways in which we can connect to nature. We can play sport, go for a hike or bask in the variety of landscapes across Nigeria, which are phenomenal – rivers, valleys, lakes, forests, waterfalls, beaches and more.
“Yet it is virtually unknown as a tourist destination. There are challenges about getting this right – security, transport access, and facilities. And protecting nature will be key to sustaining it as a tourist attraction – no one will want to come and see a decayed and broken landscape. One way in which we can all contribute is to not leave our litter lying around. Later this week, volunteers from the British High Commission will be gathering for one hour in their own time to help collect litter.
“Last month the High Commissioner visited Lekki Conservation Centre, one of Africa’s prominent and most-diverse urban Nature Parks due to its high species richness. It is the only protected area in Lagos. There are several national parks across the country, and recently in Rivers State, the State Governor was commended by locals for creating a green space in Port Harcourt, for everyone to enjoy. It is important that these spaces are protected, and we hope that in building the new highway road construction in Cross River State nature is protected.
“According to the 2011 Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI), climate change could result in a loss in GDP in Nigeria of between 6% and 30% by 2050, worth an estimated 100 to $460 billion.
“In addition to the global climate risks, there are immediate local impacts of the carbon economy in Nigeria. We are pleased that $1 billion has been committed by the Federal Government and international oil companies for the Ogoniland cleanup and hope progress can continue swiftly. We also hope for better solutions to combat the damaging effects of oil bunkering and illegal refineries.
“Agriculture and farming, which is a key focus for economic development in Nigeria, gives daily opportunity to connect with nature. The country’s focus on re-building its agricultural capacity is beginning to bear real fruit – with a rising contribution to GDP. This growth will help to provide even more employment and earning opportunities.
“In agriculture, in tourism, in building a sustainable future – nurturing, respecting, protecting, and connecting with nature are essential. Also essential is making the most of its potential, while not ruining it through careless exploitation.”