From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
An International environmentalist and the Executive Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Dr NnimmoBassey has described Nigeria as being in serious challenge of criminal environmental situation.
He also noted that Nigeria has the worst air quality, following the continuous pollution that happens on daily basis, especially in the Niger Delta area.
Bassey stated this yesterday in Port Harcourt, at the First Memorial Lecture in honour of late environmentalist and renowned journalist, Patrick Naagbanton, organised by Centre for Environment and Human Rights Development (CEHRD).
During his memorial lecture titled “The life of Patrick B. Naagbanton: A reflection on the state of human and environmental rights in Nigeria”, Dr Bassey described Naagbanton as an expert on conflicts, who paid special attention to the proliferation of small arms in the country, adding that “He did not just? write about violent actors but was bold to step into their camps to observe and better understand what spurred and sustained such trajectories.
“He epitomised the ideal that consolidated the environmental justice movement in Nigeria – live and travel the way the majority of our compatriots do. Such ideals are increasingly hard to track these days”.
Speaking further on the environmental situation of the national, he stated that “What we breathe may differ depending on where we live -the vast majority of Nigerians uniformly breathe highly poisonous air. Although the nation does not have adequate air quality monitoring stations, available data confirm that the air we breathe is deadly. The poisons in the air include those coming from emissions from automobiles, electricity generators, incinerators, gas flares among others.”
He added that “besides the polluted air that Nigerians must breathe, there is also extensive water pollution. High levels of toxic chemicals including heavy metals and pesticides have been recorded in Nigerian water resources.
“Biological pollution is another huge problem in Nigeria which if not checked will evolve into serious biosecurity threats. Since the Nigerian Biosafety Management Agency Act came into life in 2015, there has been a flurry of permits for genetically modified organisms in the country.”
In his remarks at the event, Hon UcheOnyeagucha, a former member of House of Representatives, stated that Nigeria had never been fair to peaceful non-violent activists, stressing that Nigeria government respect violence for struggle than peaceful struggle.
It would be recalled that Naagbanton was a man who lived to protect the environment and engaged in non-violence fight for human rights.
Meanwhile, the Coordinator of CEHRD, Prof NenibariniZabbey, believed that Naagbanton is still alive. He said the late environmentalist lived and worked for humanity and left indelible footprints.
He said: “Today, we are reminded of the many challenges we face in this country, the environmental and injustice challenges. Let those footprints of Patrick Naagbanton continue to inspire us to ensure that life is good for everybody.”