From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
Center For Environment Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) has urged the Federal Government to map out policies that will monitor the operations of the private sector on environment.
The Coordinator of CEHRD, Prof. Nenibarini Zabbey, made the call at a day workshop organized by the group in partnership with the French Embassy in Port Harcourt, urged the overnment to proffer direction on sustainable policies that will regulate the way industries or private sectors operate in their environment.
He stated that the theme of the workshop tagged “Develop Alternatives to Practices that Threaten Access to Environmental Rights” was a multi stakeholders workshop cut across local communities and stakeholders in the Niger Delta.
Zabbey said: “Niger Delta is highly polluted and degraded by activities that are avoidable and industrial activities that are inevitable due to some oil spills operations, equipment failure, pipeline rupture, or loading accidents.
“Other pollution caused by artisanal refining by youths who goes into the oil mangrove set up camps to refine crude oil, all these are avoidable pollution that need to be checked,” Zabbey said.
“The private sector also have a big role to play, they need to integrate in their systems the aspect of environmental protection and restoration of degraded environment.
“The citizens on their part has a big role to play by acting as environmental stewards, they should begin to act as watchdogs to their environmental protection to achieve sustainable development in the country.
He advised Nigerians to innovate on smart agriculture input, fishing, Information Technology Communication (ITC) Software Apps that encourage farming, among others to sustain their livelihoods.
Dr Elias Courson, a Lecturer at the Department of Philosophy, Niger Delta university Bayelsa State, who also spoke at the workshop, said government should check the security of it’s citizens and hold companies accountable for environmental pollution.
Courson urged government to merge human rights with environmental rights, saying that human rights cannot stand alone without environmental rights.
“Any activity in an environment that threatens the livelihood of citizens like environmental pollution should be treated as human rights also not only as environmental rights,” Courson stated.
On her part, Mrs Faith Amadi, Chairperson, Women for Environmental Justice Network- Rivers State called on citizens to understand their environment by avoiding activities that will threaten their existence.
She expressed worry over the 45 years average life expectancy of those living in Niger Delta region reported recently.