Tuesday, April 27, 2021 / 5:46 PM / Ayomide Oguntoye
for WebTV / Header Image Credit: Twitter; @TheIoDNigeria
The Institute of Directors (IoD), Nigeria recently hosted a virtual stakeholders forum on the theme, 'Environmental Degradation: Issues and the Way forward'. Mr. Chidi Okoroh, Head, Institute of Directors, River State, in giving the welcome address, noted that a safe environment is synonymous with healthy living. He said that due to oil exploration and other human activities in the Niger Delta, there was evidence of environmental degradation in several communities which required urgent attention.
Dr. Ferdinand Giadom, Senior Lecturer and Geologist, University of Port-Harcourt, in delivering his keynote address observed that the environment in Niger-Delta is incessantly mauled and despoiled, resulting in environmental challenges such as oil spillages and gas leaks, groundwater/surface water pollution, land substance, domestic and municipal waste management problems and so on.
Relaying the state of the environment in some parts of Rivers State, Giadom mentioned that the environmental contaminants found in the soil, ground, and surface water, pose serious risks to the health and well-being of the people and also the ecosystem.
He noted that communities in different parts of the State are especially at risk because of inadequate knowledge, lack of appropriate regulation and enforcement by government agencies and regulators in the industry.
He mentioned that environmental degradation was a threat to wealth, health, amnesty, and ultimately a threat to the survival of lives in the State and the Delta as a whole. He further mentioned that the degraded environment has further contributed to the increased level of poverty, ignorance, and stress to the system which has caused the complete disruption of social harmony with its attendant misunderstandings amongst people.
The Geologist stressed that the geology of the region comprised of recent unconsolidated sediments which enhances the ease of contaminant migration in the subsurface. He added that studies had shown that the widespread presence of these contaminants in the biophysical environment of the state was capable of exerting long-term adverse health and environmental effects.
Giadom, however, proposed a few solutions, stating that air pollution could be minimized through the enforcement of gas flaring legislation and increased domestic gas utilization.
In terms of artisanal refining and illegal bunkering, he mentioned that regulators and legislators could grant licenses for modular refineries to replace 'kpofire' industry. He suggested that there should be a replacement of old pipelines and community sensitization on the damages of incessant spills into the environment. He added that there should be a state-wide intervention and characterization of oil-contaminated sites, and a holistic approach towards the clean-up, remediation, and restoration of the contaminated sites.
Chris Okunowo, President, Institute of Directors, in giving opening remarks said it was a critical issue that must be attended to, as it was detrimental to the lives of citizens and the economy at large, therefore organizations and institutions such as IOD should serve as a voice in transmitting the message farther.
He mentioned that it was important to focus on the following;