Nigerians Overwhelmingly Reject Monsanto’s Risky Gm Maize and Cotton

Biosafety Act reviewMore than 100 groups representing over 5 million Nigerians, comprising of farmers, faith-based organisations, civil society groups, students and local community groups, are vehemently opposing Monsanto’s attempts to introduce genetically modified (GM) cotton and maize into Nigeria’s food and farming systems. In written objections submitted to the biosafety regulators, the groups have cited numerous serious health and environmental concerns and the failure of these crops especially GM cotton in Africa.

Monsanto Agricultural Nigeria Limited has applied to the National Biosafety Management Agency (NABMA) for the environmental release and placing in the market in Zaria and surrounding towns of GM cotton (Bt cotton, event MON 15985). A further application is for the confined field trial (CFT) of two GM maize varieties (NK603 and stacked event MON 89034 x NK603) in multiple locations in Nigeria.

In their objection to the commercial release of Bt cotton into Nigeria, the groups are particularly alarmed that the application has come so close after the dismal failures of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso.  According to Nnimmo Bassey, Director, Health of Mother Earth – one of the groups in the frontline of the resistance: “We are totally shocked that it should come so soon after peer reviewed studies have showed that the technology has failed dismally in Burkina Faso. It has brought nothing but economic misery to the cotton sector there and is being phased out in that country where compensation is being sought from Monsanto.” He further asks the pointed question: “since our Biosafety Act has only recently entered into force, what biosafety legislation was used to authorise and regulate the field trials in the past in accordance with international law and best biosafety practice?”

According to the groups, former President Goodluck Jonathan hastily signed the National Biosafety Management Bill into law, in the twilight days of his tenure in office. Further worrying is the apparent conflict of interests displayed by the Nigerian regulatory agencies, who are publically supporting the introduction of GMOs into Nigeria whereas these regulators (the NAMBA) are legally bound to remain impartial and regulate in the public interest.

Apart from the potential of contaminating local varieties, the health risk of the introduction of genetically modified maize into Nigeria is enormous considering the fact that maize is a staple that all of 170 million Nigerians depend on.

Monsanto’s GM maize application is in respect of a stacked event, including the herbicide tolerant trait intended to confer tolerance to the use of the herbicide, glyphosate. In 20 March 2015 – The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), assessed the carcinogenicity of glysophate and concluded that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” There is also increasing scientific evidence that glyphosate poses serious risks to the environment.

According to Mariann Orovwuje, Friends of the Earth International’s Food Sovereignty co-coordinator, “Should commercialization of Monsanto’s GM maize be allowed pursuant to field trials, this will result in increased use of glyphosate in Nigeria, a chemical that is linked to causing cancer in humans. Recent studies have linked glyphosate to health effects such as degeneration of the liver and kidney, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. That NABMA is even considering this application is indeed unfortunate and deeply regrettable, knowing full well about the uncontrolled exposure that our rural farmers and communities living close to farms will be exposed to.”

Monsanto’s application deceitfully provides no discussion on the potential risks of glysophate use to human and animal health and the environment. Apart from the potential of contaminating local varieties, the health risk of the introduction of genetically modified maize into Nigeria is enormous considering the fact that maize is a staple that all of 170 million Nigerians depend on.

The groups are urging the Nigerian government to reject Monsanto’s applications out of hand. They note with disquiet that there is a serious lack of capacity within Nigeria to adequately control and monitor the human and environmental risks of GM crops and glyphosate. Further there is virtually no testing of any food material and products in Nigeria for glyphosate or other pesticide residues, or the monitoring of their impact on the environment including water resources.

For more information, contact:

  1. Mariann Orovwuje,

Food Sovereignty Manager/coordinator ERA/FoEN and FoE International

mariann@eraction.org

+234 703 449 5940

 

  1. Nnimmo Bassey, Director, HOMEF

nnimmo@homef.org

Tel: +234 803 727 4395

 

 

Groups Endorsing the Objection to Monsanto’s applications

  1. All Nigeria Consumers Movement Union (ANCOMU)
  2. Committee on Vital Environmental Resources (COVER)
  3. Community Research and Development Centre (CRDC)
  4. Ijaw Mothers of Warri
  5. Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN)
  6. Host Communities Network of Nigeria (HoCoN)
  7. Oilwatch Nigeria
  8. Green Alliance, Nigeria
  9. African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development
  10. Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (IHRHL)
  11. Women Environmental Programme (WEP)
  12. Persons with Disabilities Action Network (PEDANET)
  13. Students Environmental Assembly of Nigeria (SEAN)
  14. Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD)
  15. Ogoni Solidarity Forum (OSF)
  16. KebetKache Women Development and Resource Centre
  17. Federation of Urban Poor (FEDUP)
  18. Community Forest Watch (CFW)
  19. The Young Environmentalist Network (TYEN)
  20. Women’s Rights to Education Program (WREP)
  21. Community Action for Public Action (CAPA)
  22. Peoples Advancement Centre (ADC) Bori
  23. Social Action
  24. SPEAK Nigeria
  25. Host Communities Network
  26. Urban Rural Environmental Defenders (U-RED)
  27. Gender and Environmental Risk Reduction Initiative (GERI)
  28. Women’s Right to Education Programme (WREP)
  29. Foundation for Rural/Urban Integration (FRUIT)
  30. Community Action for Popular Participation
  31. Torjir-Agber Foundation (TAF)
  32. Civil Society on Poverty Eradication (CISCOPE),
  33. Jireh Doo foundation
  34. Advocate for Community Vision and Development( ACOVID)
  35. Initiative for empowerment for vulnerable(IEV)
  36. Kwaswdoo Foundation Initiative (KFI)
  37. Environment and Climate Change Amelioration Initiative) ECCAI
  38. Manna Love and care Foundation (MLC)
  39. Okaha Women and children development Organisation(OWCDO)
  40. JODEF-F
  41. Glorious things ministry(GTM)
  42. Daughters of Love Foundation
  43. Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN)
  44. Community Links and Empowerment Initiative(CLHEI)
  45. Nigerian Women in Agriculture (NAWIA)
  46. Osa foundation
  47. Initiative for Improved Health and Wealth Creation (IIHWC)
  48. Peace Health Care Initiative (PHCI)
  49. Ochilla Daughters Foundation (ODF)
  50. African Health Project (AHP)
  51. Artists in Development
  52. Ramberg Child Survival Initiative (RACSI)
  53. Global Health and Development initiative
  54. First Step Initiative (FIP)
  55. Ruhujukan Environment Development  Initiative (REDI)
  56. The Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development(CEHRD), Nigeria
  57. Center for Children’s Health Education, Orientation Protection (CEE Hope)and CEEHOPE Nigeria
  58. Next Generation Youth Initiative (NGI)
  59. Akwa Ibom Information and Research Organisation (AIORG)
  60. Rural Action for Green Environment (RAGE)
  61. United Action for Democracy
  62. Campaign for Democracy
  63. Yasuni Association
  64. Egi Joint Action Congress
  65. Green Concern for Development (Greencode)
  66. Kebetkache Ahoada Women Farmers Cooperative
  67. Ahoada Uzutam Women Farmers Cooperative
  68. Ogboaku Ahoada Farmers Cooperative
  69. Gbobia Feefeelo women
  70. Ovelle Nyakovia Women Cooperative
  71. Rumuekpe Women Prayer Warriors
  72. League of Queens
  73. Emem Iban Oku Iboku
  74. Uchio Mpani Ibeno
  75. Rural Health and Women Development
  76. Women Initiative on Climate Change
  77. Peoples’ Centre
  78. Citizens Trust Advocacy and Development Centre (CITADEC)
  79. Centre for Environment Media and Development Communications
  80. Centre for Dignity
  81. Peace and Development Project
  82. Triumphant Foundation
  83. Earthcare Foundation
  84. Lokiakia Centre
  85. Community Development and Advocacy Foundation (CODAF)
  86. Citizens Centre
  87. Development Strategies
  88. Rainforest Research and Development Center
  89. Center for Environmental Education and Development (CEED)
  90. Initiative for the Elimination of Violence Against Women & Children (IEVAWC)
  91. Charles and Doosurgh Abaagu Foundation
  92. Community Emergency Response Initiative
  93. Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN)
  94. Shacks and Slum Dwellers Association of Nigeria
  95. Atan Justice, Development and Peace Centre
  96. Sisters of Saint Louis Nigeria
  97. Life Lift Nigeria
  98. Community Research and Development Foundation (CDLF)
  99. Environmental rights Action Friends of the Earth Nigeria ( ERA/ FoEN)
  100. Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF)

 

 

Rev Felix Omobude: A Compassionate Pastor and Leader at 70

Dr OmobudeEveryone who knows Dr Felix Ilaweagbon Omobude, the President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and General Superintendent of Gospel Light International Ministries will agree that he is a man of deep wisdom and insight. He is a man routinely acknowledged for his integrity and who never leaves you in doubt about what he stands for.

Birthdays are major milestones in the life of humans and for this reason these dates are marked and celebrated. Dr Felix Omobude is not open to celebrating his birthdays, but as he clocks 70 years on 14th day of March 2016 it is essential that we reflect on a worthy life and pay tribute to an inspiring and true Man of God.

In the foreword to one of Dr Omobude’s books, Flaming Fire (1993), Dr Mike Okonkwo, the Bishop of TREM said this of him: “At this time when there is a quest for reality rather than the shadow, when showmanship in Ministry is fast crumbling, Dr Felix Omobude is a proven man of God and a voice to our generation.” That was true over two decades ago and we can say without doubt that it is even more so today.

I was drawn to Dr Omobude by his preaching on television in the early 1990s. Till date, the incisive biblical teachings presented in current socio-political contexts, and the rich mix of subjects that emerge from his preaching remain very inspiring. Indeed, at times after hearing him preach one feels like it is time to fashion whips and overturn the tables of the money changers in the houses of God and in political offices. Besides the clear Bible-based substance of his preaching, Dr Omobude is a psalmist who has composed many worship songs. He is also a poet, with his poetry emerging from his choice of words and by the iterative presentation of core concepts in his messages. Needless to say that after more than two decades of sitting to learn at his feet, one craves for more!

From his book, Flaming Fire, we learn that Dr Omobude’s passion for evangelism and missions took root in him from his early days as a Christian and under the pastoral oversight of the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa, then head of Church of God Mission International. Hear him: “I immediately began to work in the church first as an usher and later as the leader of the young people on evangelism and street meetings. Thereafter I had the privilege of attending the church’s local Bible School for 9 weeks. From then I started going as an advance team to wherever my pastor wanted to hold a crusade. In 1973 I went in the company of two military personnel who were also Christians. We had spent days praying and fasting for this meeting. God moved in that crusade with signs and miracles. We came back from that crusade giving thanks to God. My association with those two other soldiers gave birth to the Soldiers of Christ Evangelistic group in the Church of God Mission then. I led this group for many years.”

IN THE BUSH FOR THE LEPERS

Troubled by the dehumanising situation of lepers begging on the Benin – Lagos and Benin – Sapele highways in early 1997, Dr Omobude set up the Life Lift International as the humanitarian arm of Gospel Light International Ministries.

Since its establishment, the Life Lift International has remained active in supporting the needy and has made an indelible mark on the lives of the target people as well as on the wider society. Life Lift worked to encourage the lepers and ex-lepers to either return home to be reintegrated into their families or to return to the camps provided for them by the government at various locations in the country. With Ossiomo specialist hospital/leprosarium being the nearest to Benin City, that has received regular attention from Life Lift, including by provision of scholarships and through the renovation of a block of living quarters for four families, construction of Kitchen blocks and sanitary facilities as well as the reconstruction and upgrading of a Chest Ward building recently completed with the support of T. Y. Danjuma Foundation.

In its relief efforts, Life Lift has responded to disasters within and outside Nigeria. Help was sent to victims of fire outbreak at Aviara 1 Community in Edo State where over 100 houses were gutted and the Jesse pipeline fire of 1998 that killed about 1000 persons and left many others injured. Life Lift also sent relief to Odi Community in Bayelsa State after their town was levelled by the military in November 1999 with over 2800 casualties. Dr Omobude personally visited these disaster zones, giving hope, offering comfort and praying for the wounded and the bereaved. Life Lift also sent relief to earthquake victims in Haiti (2010) as well as contributing relief in the case of the Fukushima tsunami/nuclear accident in Japan in March 2011.

MISSIONS

DSC_0095As already noted, Dr Omobude is passionate about for missions and this can also be seen in his academic pursuits. Although he has an electrical engineering background, his doctoral dissertation at the San Antonio Theological Seminary, United States of America, was on the subject, Mission to the Third World. Dr Omobude believes strongly that education is the major key for the emancipation of man. Little wonder that the Gospel Light International Ministries, besides the church arm, New Covenant Gospel Church, runs educational institutions ranging from the kindergarten to the tertiary institution, the Lighthouse Polytechnic

As we reflect on Dr Omobude’s 70th birthday anniversary, the words of Dr Carl Conely, President, LifeLink International and of Faith Community Churches International, USA, in the foreword  to Dr Omobude’s book, Whose Son Are You (2007), says it all: “Dr Omobude is the perfect example of a faithful son and a loving, nurturing father. Multitudes of ministers in Nigeria and around the world look to him as a father and are quick to obey his loving direction. He gives himself wholeheartedly to the success of his children. I know of no other man who more fully models spiritual fatherhood.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Break Free From Fossil Fuels

Logo“Break Free From Fossil Fuels”: worldwide escalated mobilisations to end the fossil fuel era

GLOBAL — Today, 9th March 2016, a global platform “Break Free” has been launched featuring a series of peaceful, escalated actions aimed to disrupt the fossil-fuel industry’s power by targeting the world’s most dangerous and unnecessary fossil fuel projects.[1]

This May, thousands of people from around the world will join actions taking place across 6 continents which aim to stop dirty fossil fuels and speed up the just transition to 100% renewable energy. Major actions are currently planned in countries such as Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, US, Germany, Philippines, Australia and more, led by the communities that have spent years already fighting dangerous fossil fuel projects.[2]

On the back of the hottest year in recorded history, communities worldwide are demanding governments move past the commitments made as part of the Paris agreement resulting from the summit held last December. In order to address the current climate crisis and keep global warming below 1.5C, fossil fuel projects need to be shelved and existing infrastructure needs to be replaced, now.

“The science is clear: we need to keep at least 80%, if not more, of fossil fuel reserves in the ground,” said Payal Parekh, the Global Managing Director of 350.org, “communities worldwide are experiencing first hand the consequences of climate change and the damage inflicted by the fossil fuel industry. It’s up to us to break free from fossil fuels and accelerate the shift towards a just transition to 100% renewable energy. It’s in our hands to close the gap between what current commitments will achieve and what science demands is necessary in order to protect our common home.”

The climate movement’s commitment to scaling up its resistance to the fossil fuel industry comes at a time when renewable energy is already more affordable and widespread than ever before. These new tools give communities at the front lines of climate change new ways to respond to the crisis and build their own power.

“Moving towards 100 percent renewable energy is possible with the political will to make the change” said Arif Fiyanto, Coal Campaigner at Greenpeace Indonesia. “There are no major economic or technical barriers to a future supported by renewable energy. Any new infrastructure built to support fossil fuels expansion, such as coal mines, power plants, oil rigs and export terminals will be a waste of money and further lock us into a path to irreversible climate change”

Post-Paris, the fossil fuel industry is running scared with prices plunging and companies going bankrupt. Now, ramped up civil disobedience will show that the industry’s social licence to operate is fast evaporating. Such peaceful civil disobedience brings people from all walks of life, and not just seasoned climate activists, to challenge both politicians and polluters to accelerate the unstoppable energy transition already underway.

One such example is last year’s Ende Gelände (Here And No Further), which saw 1500 people take part in a daring act of civil disobedience to shut down Europe’s biggest source of CO2 emissions. On the urgency at hand, Hannah Eichberger from this grassroots anti-coal alliance said: “It’s time now for a grassroots energy transition that does not only exchange one source of energy for the other but that tackles the root causes of natural destruction and social injustice: profit-driven corporate power.”

The struggles against the fossil fuel industry and the environmental, social, economic and political destruction they’ve wielded has been underway across regions for many years.

“Fossil fuels have brought horrendous pollutions to the Niger Delta alongside unimaginable human rights abuses while severely harming communities, said Nnimmo Bassey, Nigerian activist from the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, “crude oil is already history and has no future. We cannot allow fossil fuel addicts to burn the planet. The time for the shift is now. No one will set us free. We must break free ourselves, now” he added.

These peaceful worldwide mobilisations taking place in May serve as an important point in the climate movement’s trajectory to increase pressure on the fossil fuel industry. The global struggle to finally break free from fossil fuels will continue making this a struggle the world cannot ignore.

###

CONTACT

  • Cadmus Atake, HOMEF, cadmus@homef.org or home@homef.org
  • Hoda Baraka, 350.org Global Communications Manager, hoda@350.org, +201001-840990

NOTES TO EDITORS

[1] For more information visit: breakfree2016.org

[2] Highlights from some of the planned actions across 6 continents include:

Germany: Last year 1500 people entered the pit of a lignite coal mine in the Rhineland, and in May hundreds more are coming to Lusatia, where local communities have struggled against mining and resettlement for years. There they will engage in civil disobedience to stop the digging in one of Europe’s biggest open-pit lignite mines, which the Swedish company Vattenfall has put up for sale. The action will show any future buyer that all coal development will face resistance, and demonstrate the movement’s commitment to a different kind of energy system that prioritizes people and the planet over corporate power and profit.

Nigeria: In the Niger Delta actions will be held in 3 iconic locations that epitomise the decades old despoiling of the region. The actions will show clearly that Nigeria, nay Africa, is better off without the polluting activities of the fossil industry. They will also underscore the fact that people’s action remains the viable way to save the planet from mankind’s addiction to fossil fuels.

Turkey: community leaders in the Izmir region will confront the illegal tactics behind the coal industry’s plan to build dirty coal plants near their homes, in addition to those already operating illegally. They will gather at the gates of a massive, growing spoils mountain used by nearby coal plants against a court order to dispose of dangerous waste from the burning of coal. This action will unite several fights against individual coal plants into a unified stance against the current Turkish government’s plan to dramatically expand the use of coal in the country.

Australia: As an election approaches, climate activists will bring the country’s growing climate movement to the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle, and demonstrate their resolve to both make the climate a key issue in the coming election, and their determination to continue resisting coal no matter who is in the Prime Minister’s chair.

Brazil: Indigenous people and climate activists will join hands for four different peaceful actions addressing key parts of the country’s oil and gas infrastructure — from where the gas is fracked in Indigenous land, to its risky transportation, to where it is burned. The exact details are being kept confidential, but thousands of participants are expected across more than a week of action in all areas of the country.

United States: Activists are targeting 6 key areas of fossil fuel development: new tar sands pipelines in the Midwest with an action near Chicago; fracking in the Mountain West with an event outside Denver; ‘bomb trains’ carrying fracked oil and gas to a port in Albany, NY; Shell’s devastating refinery pollution north of Seattle; action around offshore drilling in the Arctic, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts taking place in Washington, DC; and dangerous oil and gas drilling in Los Angeles. These diverse actions will all escalate critical local campaigns that target the unjust practices of the fossil fuel industry that burdened the poor and people of color with the bulk of the industry’s pollution.

New PIB: Coming in Four Draft Bills?

O&GReportcoverNew PIB is coming in four parts

Petroleum industry watchers in Nigeria have been wondering whether the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) that has been in the works for almost a decade would eventually be junked. Information emerging from those who should know suggest the PIB, much resisted by transnational oil companies operating in Nigeria, would now come in four separate and perhaps palatable bits

Signals coming form the Petroleum Resources Ministry suggest that the primary concern of the ministry is the business part of the entire petroleum industry architecture. Indeed, a version of the first Bill in circulation (The Governance and Institutional Framework for Oil and Gas) is not at all concerned with the environment. It mentions gas flaring just once and this in the same breath with fracking! Could the Ministry thinking of embarking on fracking while gas flaring goes on unabated?

That same version of the first Bill has no mention or reference to communities in which oil and gas activities are being carried out.But then, its focus is governance, not environment and not communities.

It does appear that none of the four pieces of law will have any focus on environmental or community health concerns.

According to a report in the January 2016 edition of the Africa Oil & Gas Report, “The Governance and Institutional Framework for Oil and Gas is the first of four proposed bills that will be sent to Nigeria’s bicameral house of legislature: The National Assembly, for passage by the Muhammadu Buhari administration.” It is speculated that four versions of the draft of the first Bill is currently in circulation at the National Assembly. This seems to be in sync with the spirit of the comatose PIB.

Africa Oil & Gas Report suggests that the breaking the PIB into four different legislations may be part of the learning from the inability to pass an oil and gas reform law by the last two governments.

It does appear that none of the four pieces of law will have any focus on environmental or community health concerns. Information suggests that the second bill after the ‘Governance and Institutional Framework’ Bill will be the Fiscal Reform Bill, that will focus on fiscal issues in the industry. The third bill will be concerned with Licencing Rounds, while the last legislative bill regulating the petroleum industry will be the ‘Revenue Allocation and Management‘ Bill. Africa Oil & Gas quotes  a source as saying that “Part of what the last bill will propose is what will go to the communities, in terms of percentages.”

It is indeed essential that communities receive due payments for the massive cash milked from their environment, it will be unwise to imagine that environmental concerns can be buried under a whiff of cash, no matter how sweet the smell. While the draughtsmen are at work, it will be essential for them to pay in-depth attention to halting gas flaring and the dumping of toxic wastes in the environment. They should also block the loopholes that allow oil companies to casually blame most oil spill incidents on the victims of their dastardly environmental misbehaviour.

 

Sinsibere

musow_koperatifu

Sinsibere

Lend me a hand

Let me stand

Let me labour

The fruits of my labour

Sinsibere

The sweat of a labouring woman

Births pots laden

With songs, with life

With joy

Sinsibere

Drops of coins

In empty cans may

Shroud calloused hearts

But never quench want

Sinsibere

A stick to aid our rise

The stick to tread the earth

The stick to quench want

The stick on the paths of life

Sinsibere

Stone me not with coins

Let me stand

Let me labour

Let me celebrate

The fruits of my labour

————–

Note 

Sinsibere is a Bambara word, meaning the support that one needs to start something. This poem was inspired by contrasting the active work of the women in the Sinsibere Cooperative at Bougoula to the urban poor extending empty bowls for alms. Written in a car on the streets of Bamako – 01.03.2016

Our Environment, Our Resources, Our Future

IMG-20160225-WA0001It is indeed exciting to be a part of this epochal reception. One reason is that it is not easy to move from the civil society space and perform creditably on the government side. Some even say that civil society campaigners are more effective as critics than as public service leaders. Our hope is that you will prove the sceptics wrong. And that you will epitomise what it means to lead with the people leading. The thoughts here expressed are directly mostly at the Minister for Environment, Amina J. Mohammed and the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, who you will permit me to address as Comrade Kayode Fayemi.

Bearing in mind that the environment is a living system and that environmental problems are interlinked; and keeping in mind that our peoples depend on the natural environment for economic and living activities, resolving our environmental challenges can indeed be a unifying pathway for Nigerians. The Niger Delta has been on the spot light as a region despoiled by petroleum extraction and soon the story may shift to mine pits across the nation as States scramble to generate revenue from a sector that allows decentralised investment in a way the petroleum sector does not permit.

We are children of the environment and that what we call natural resources are actually Nature’s gifts and elements that help her maintain and reproduce her natural cycles, the best approach to solving our environmental challenges must be narrowed down to what impacts most on the lives of our peoples.

Key areas:

ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION- the challenge of extractives

Environmental remediation/restoration and stoppage of polluting activities and processes. The determination of the President and the HM of Environment to make the clean up of Ogoniland in line with the UNEP report of 2011 is commendable and must be supported. It is essential that this be extended as a Pan Niger Delta recovery initiative including heavily polluted areas such as Ikarama, Forcados, Ibeno, Koluoma, Kalaba and Oruma to name a few. Environmental remediation must extend to challenged communities like that of Makoko, Lagos (Which the HM E has visited) and the communities depending on the Challawa River in Kano and the water ponds of Zamfara and the tin pits of Jos.

We are children of the environment and that what we call natural resources are actually Nature’s gifts and elements that help her maintain and reproduce her natural cycles,

SANITATION

Sanitation, including solid waste management and access to potable water. This requires deliberate campaign for change of mind-set to discourage careless handling and disposal of wastes. Efforts in this direction must be in cooperation with the Ministry of Water Resources with a view to halting the privatisation of water through purchase of public facilities as well as through the bottling of water and an enforced absence of public water supply.

Use of plastic bags should be outlawed as a means of curbing wastes, general pollution and clogging of our drains. Our people must return to the use of durable goods and accept to recycle, reuse, reduce and also refuse some items.

EROSION

Gully, wind and coastal erosion are serious challenges in Nigeria. A comprehensive framework to tackle this menace needs to be developed. Again we note that solid mineral extraction will aggravate this problem. Where we once had gullies, we may now have craters.

GREAT GREEN BELT and DEFORESTATION

There is no reason for southern Niger Republic to be greener than Northern Nigeria. Annual tree planting rituals will ultimately remain television activities. Communities must own the agenda, with government supporting. Having farmer-farmer exchanges would help our farmers acquire knowledge from their counterparts in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali would help in learning techniques of restoring otherwise arid lands.[1]

In the same vein is the crucial need to stop the assault on our forests, including the very poorly conceived plan to take a 6 lanes super highway through Ekuri Community Forest, one of the last pristine forests we have left in Nigeria. The thought of compulsorily acquiring 10 km on either side of the road in public interest is a euphemism for dispossessing the poor forest communities and to throw open a logging bazaar without regard to equity, justice or concerns for the looming climate change.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Nigeria has submitted her intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) to emissions reduction as required by the UNFCCC. One task before you in this direction is to translate the intentions to action. And if we may suggest a starting point it would be to stop gas flaring.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

STATE OF NIGERIAN ENVIRONMENT REPORT

Ultimately we require to have an Annual State of the Nigerian Environment Report that would both provide a baseline and a means of monitoring and evaluating our efforts in this sector. The only such report that we have was prepared in 2008 and published six or so years later. It was a good starting point that needs to be taken forward.

ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS/REGULATIONS

It is often said that there are sufficient laws in Nigeria but not enough will to enforce the laws. There are laws that require urgent review or repeal. One of such laws is the Biosafety Management Act of 2015 signed into law in the last week of the last presidency. The management of our Biosafety is not helped by the fact that the regulatory and research bodies are more concerned with promoting rather than regulating the introduction of agricultural modern biotechnology and do not appear to consider ethical, environmental, health and other issues.

We need a law that gives an agency like the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) teeth, including enforcing sufficiently high penalties to discourage environmental misbehaviour such as oil spills and gas flaring.

The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) Act does not cover the oil and gas sector. The presence of captains of the oil and gas sector on the board of NESREA is an anomaly and that space should be closed.

The Environmental Impact Act (EIA) must be given teeth so that compliance ceases to be a token requirement for project proponents. The EIA and environmental management plans for mining projects must consider the fact that every mine pit or oil well has a life span. This necessitates the preparation of exit or closure plans, including decommissioning at the end of the lifespan of such activities.

CONCLUSION

We are lending you to the governance machinery and expect that your civil society sensitivities will keep you open to engage continuously with the people whom you have been called upon to serve.

Thank you.

Nnimmo Bassey, Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation @NnimmoB

**Presented at reception for Nigerian ministers with civil society background at Abuja on 22 February 2016

 

 

[1] See my blog on this at https://nnimmo.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/forests-on-rocky-soils/.