Experts Talk Food Insecurity In Niger Delta Arising From Environmental Pollution
By Chinelo Chikelu
… Demilitarization, Aquatic Culture Can Restore Productivity
… Says Emphasis Must Be On Remediation, Not Clean-up – Senator Ogola
Environmental experts and stakeholders say demilitarization of the Niger Delta, cultivation and investment in aquatic culture and an emphasis on remediation rather than clean-up of Ogoni will check food insecurity in the region.
Based on reports presented by stakeholders at the European Union (EU) and Yar’adua Foundation Climate Week, Nigeria ranked 91 out of 104 countries in the World Bank 2015 Development Indicator. As the largest fish consumer in Africa, and its largest consumer in the world, Nigeria spends over N700m on the importation of fish.
The Niger Delta is home to a large number of the nation’s sea life, but its fishermen suffer serious ecological conditions leading to impoverished lifestyle. To tackle food insecurity in the region, Inemo Samiama of Eco Delta Services said aquaculture the major source of livelihood in the region must be restored.
“Nigeria has no specific regulation on aquatic life. This should be corrected. Government should work on environmental remediation and clean-up, if it truly aims to address pollution in the region.”
Highlighting the importance of remediation to the increase of food security in the region, Senator Foster Ogola, representing Bayelsa West, hinted that the current plans by the government to clean-up Ogoni, without determining the extent of pollution is counterproductive.
Ogola, also a member of the senate Committee on Public Accounts, Interior Environment, Petroleum Downstream and Gas, recommends a thorough study of the extent of pollution in the region, followed by adequate scientific and technological activities to address water, soil and atmospheric pollution.
“Remediation ensures that over the years, vegetation will re-sprout in those areas. When vegetation regrows, then, the ecosystem is restored with the return of the fauna.” Ogola further advised that government include other areas of the region “ which make up about 95 per cent its population“ not just Ogoni, to prevent the communities taking similar steps as Ogoni to halt oil exploration in their locales.
Meantime, Senator Ogola blamed the Nigerian military for its contribution to environmental pollution in the Niger Delta and urged for the demilitarization of the zone. He described the military as a nuisance and a menace to the environment.
Ogola said the military initially dispatched to the region to deter the activities of militants, has fueled environmental degradation in the region via the indiscriminate burning of oil refining sites, in its effort to flush out illegal refiners.
“When the military arrives, and bombs the entire place, oil spills all over the land. When crude oil spills over a particle area where oil refining take place, it bursts into flames, and burns beyond control, owing to inflammable gas.”
Reiterating the senator’s observations visually projected in a EU sponsored photo exhibition Oil On Water, by Rey Byhre, Nnimmo Bassey, founder of HOMEF, affirmed that with the military patrolling the sea, fishermen are restricted from plying their trade. Active fishing hours are generally known to last from evening to the early hours of the morning.
Bassey stressed that the military cordoning off certain areas of the coast and sea lines prevent fishermen from following the migrating fishes to its new habitat.
For the people to regain their means of livelihood, Bassey said the region must be demilitarized.
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