Connect with us

Issues

We Want Peaceful, Result-Oriented State

Published

on

Last week Wednesday, the Action Congress (AC)leader in Rivers State, Prince Tonye Princewill was the guest of The Tide Roundtable, a weekly personality interview programme of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation.

The AC guber candidate for 2007 elections fielded questions on various issues such as the state’s urban renewal and waterfront demolition schemes, his future involvement in politics and many other exciting and thought-provoking issues nationwide. Here’s the excerpts.

The Press sees you in different identities. A prince, a businessman, politician and a rare humanist, a very mysterious tactician. Simply put, many say you are politically mysterious. How do you want us to know you? Have you ever asked yourself who do people say I am? If you have, who is Tonye Princewill?

I prefer to be judged by result. One of the things I have never really wanted is being boxed into any particular category. But if you look at me, my background is Petroleum Engineering. If you had studied my early life, you won’t assume that I will go down that way because I didn’t like mathematics but suddenly things changed and mathematics became a good subject. I was in the Federal Government College Port Harcourt and decided whether to go into the Arts or the Sciences. But I had 4 TI which is Four Technical One when I was in technical. From then, it was a steady progression into Engineering and after I finished all of that, I worked in Shell briefly but I wasn’t inspired.

Someday, I looked at the corridors of Shell and I saw people who have been working there for 15 to 20 years, I said Jesus Christ, is it what I will be like after 15 years? I was not comfortable. So I left the country to go and read masters in a similar subject but soon after that I drifted into Information Technology and then eventually Project Management.

So if you look at my business life, you see that I have companies in Oil and Gas. I have companies in Aviation, I have companies in Logistics. I have companies in Investment Consultancy and given the business climate, I’m very varied. For me what is most important is result. Very often, we try to find solutions to problems. In all the interests, we have pursued, basically, that is what we do but not many knew much about that life. It is instead my political life that thrust me into the limelight. And politically again, it is all about results. Yes, I am a member of AC, yes we are the Architect of the organised opposition which now consists of over 46 political parties.

But it’s not about that identity, it’s about results. We want a more peaceful state, we want a state that is producing result.

 Let us know your background as a little child. How has your family background affected the result we now see in your life. For instance, how many are you in the line of children, between you and your mother and father. How has your position as Prince made it easier?

First of all, they call me the first and the last in the house because my father had only one child that’s me my mother had five children before that union.

We will like to know, who is your father?

His Royal Majesty, King Professor T.J.T. Princewill, Amanyanabo of Kalabari.

He was more into academics. He was more focused on his books and when he had advanced in years, he had me. It was a big contrast because my mother was previously married with five children but she still took in when he took her in. And the family was very much the three of us really because I was born outside of this country with a mother who had five children, so I have five siblings that I didn’t know until I was about seven years old when I got back to Nigeria, they said these are your brothers and sisters, I said but why did they have a different surname? They said, “don’t worry this is the Kalabari version of their names” that was the explanation they gave me at the time. But it was quite interesting because they nurtured me, they helped me at that beautiful environment. I guess in a way that sort of character became personal.

But I hope you know, my father really became King a few years ago, before then he was Professor T.J.T. Princewill and I grew up in an academic environment, University of Port Harcourt so how that makes things easier for me wasn’t in the sense that people see, oh: Prince, no, what it did for me was basically that it helped me understand the importance of learning and education. Mind you, if you got a good education as your background, it means then you can cope with anything and you can see also what I was highlighting when I was telling you that in Information Technology, Project Management, Engineering, I have this educational background which means that I can adapt to a variety of situations, If the Oil finishes in Rivers State my businesses will still survive.

If I am out of politics I don’t need to be in Politics, if any of my logistics businesses fails, I will have something else that we can get doing so it helped me which is basically to have a foundation and therefore you can be more dependent  on yourself than any other person.

 Governor Amaechi and I can quarrel tomorrow, it wouldn’t make a huge difference in my income because at the end of the day, I will still survive and it gives you the ability to speak freely and to be free. That freedom, I think is very rewarding and special.

If you have another opportunity to choose what you will be what will you rather prefer the most among all the positions you have been able to branch into since you’ve not been quite successful in the politics?

No,  I think my successes are weightier in politics. I disagree with you. Some people will be surprised to learn that I didn’t really want to be Governor. I was not really interested in being Governor; I was just interested in kicking out the bad system under Odili. And since it appeared as if nobody was ready to take that kind of bull by the horn I opted to do it myself. It was not really, worth. I prefer a business environment to the political environment but unless we take a control of the political environment, there will be no business environment. And so, for me, politics is a means to an end, it has to be done because the best of us need to have an environment even in which to operate and unfortunately it determines our environment, your offices are down to politics. If it is the right kind of politics, you can have a better environment to operate but if a wrong kind of politics, you have it wrong, so our option of not getting involved in politics for me is not an option. So I think, “I will say my biggest success story is in my political experience.” If you asked me which one will I rather take, I’ll take all. That is the beauty of it, I can be a politician, if I want to be, I can be a businessman, I can be a youth leader, even a community leader so I can be all of the above, I can be an Information Technologist I can be Project Manager. And in each of these professions I have been able to rise to a level where I can speak authoritatively on any of the subjects. So my wife will tell you that I am often restless and it’s paying I don’t want to be trapped in pigeon hole myself, I think I have used that phrase twice today, I don’t want to box myself, I want that freedom to operate.

If there is a problem I will go and fix it, I think in a way that probably made me a perfect candidate for Governor because you can be in one spot but actually survey and say there is a problem here lets fix it and not pigeon hole. When it came to the issue of Governorship and all that Amaechi my good friend you see him, he is tired, pains all over his body. I am young, very vibrant moving around so is a big responsibility that he has and I don’t envy him, some of us give ideas, chip in a few suggestions, here and there which ultimately get implemented and that is satisfaction for me.

 Before I hand you over to the hall, you said it was not your idea to be governor it was your intention to kick out a bad system and with that system out and with you being leader of AC, would you wish to be Governor now?

 There is no vacancy right now.

 At the end of Amaechi’s tenure if there is a contest, will you contest the Governorship?

 That is called in press circle, a hypothetical question. We are talking about what do I want to be if, when I get to that bridge I would cross it, then I think, I am not going to rule anything in or out. The number of scenarios that would take themselves out in Rivers State. Amaechi would go for a second term; he may not go for a second term. The circumstances could be very difficult because if he goes for a second term, in eight years time, I might be too old to be thinking about Governorship. I am not inclined to be a political animal. I joined politics for result. So at the end of the day if we have the kind of result that we are having then I am more likely to be in the background and I am the son of a King. I am not supposed to be playing politics, I’m supposed to be neutral we are supposed to be fathers of all. It is only the circumstance that put me in that kind of position.

If the circumstance releases itself, I will be out, I will come out because I want result, I am not going to sit down somewhere and watched riff-raffs decide our fate. But if we had a good vibrant political system that is throwing up the right kind of candidate I have no business anymore.

 Is that how you see the system now?

 The system is improved. Significantly improved but we still have longway to go and we are doing our own little bit to make sure we get there.

 You said, in a write up that I read recently that Kicking out that bad system was like a war. Can you explain to us what that war is like? And how you survived the war?

 Well is just God. Is God obviously, it wasn’t any power of my own. I came from virtually nowhere, some people thought I was sponsored, some people still think I was sponsored. Is impossible to convince everybody, some said it was Odili that was sponsoring me then they said it was Amaechi that was sponsoring me there are so many stories and here do you react to them or not? If the questions are too harsh to you, you address them. Some people are very accepting of the situation. I am not. I finished in Uniport. I went and did a Masters in Imperial College London, which I think is one of the best schools worldwide. And I was struggling to do a one year Masters programme.

Though  I have done five years in Uniport.

The standard and the quality of education is too far apart this means I finished in 1990, that means now nineteen years later, the education system is worse than nineteen years ago when I finished University yet our children are expected to compete in international community, what is the problem?  Is leadership.

Clean and simple, Nigerians are resourceful people they can conform to high standard if they are encouraged and pushed in that direction but they don’t, because the leaders don’t care. I watched this system and I’m in this system and witnessed what is going on and the Buguma crisis had suddenly opened up every thing to myself because I remembered when I first started flying into this country, I went and got nice gift from Odili and his wife, I didn’t know anything about politics which was 2002 which was obviously some years into Odili’s first tenure and when the Buguma crisis happened, I started thinking that politics must be involved and I waded into it, people calmed down, the place became peaceful once again then I now went and got job for the youngmen through Shell.

So politics is about the structure, not about the building you tried and learned, you are looking  for the way forward and you save it from destructions. Infact I decided that, no, I was going to play politics. And for me, it was either I would win or I will die. It was those two options. To me it was a passionate battle.

It was either this system would change or I will not be here. I will not be here and witness the death years of Odili continue; it wasn’t impossible infact with Amaechi I had to spend a little bit of time watching him to see whether there was a change because I saw him as the same system. And I hated politicians may be now, I might say I still do, even though I’m a politician myself but the politics and the style of politics is the need for me, what is my interest, how much that kind of politics I wanted to do?  I wanted to make sure we challenge it, so for me, it wasn’t about I want to be governor, No. what it was about is that Rivers State deserves better. And unless Rivers State was going to have better, some of us are not going to get anywhere so I wrote my Will, I told my wife and said this situation we are in now, I don’t know how I am going to succeed out of it I can not witness what I’m witnessing now. So it was a big surprise to me when some people are looking at me, thinking that I was sponsored. I was just brought in to come and fill the numbers then they said it was Odili, then they said it was Amaechi.

Meanwhile the same Amaechi they are talking about, I had only met him on two occasions, one was in a plane, MD of Shell at the time who is my in-law was flying back from Abuja to Port Harcourt, he gave Amaechi a lift and gave me a lift, hello, hello ah: ah; I didn’t have any discussion with him.

The other time I was coming out of Meridien Hotel, I saw him, hello hello ha ha, no discussion until the 25th of October 2007 but some people say I was sponsored here, sponsored there the only thing I will agree is that Dr. Parker the Commissioner of Health currently, he said to me I see what you are doing, good job, you are aware we are doing our own, if you succeed, we work together, if we succeed we work together, of course the answer to that was yes because we had observed what Odili and co. were doing to Amaechi and until they threw him out of his house, they said this one is too much now but all the while I was saying good for you because when this system was bad in the state, you didn’t say anything so I was happy. Infact when they removed him, I was jubilating, I say ah, PDP is in crisis AC is the alternative, there is now even better opportunity for us. So for me it was a war, it was not a question of lets see how this thing will work I sold anything I could sell, and I was very careful, we were fighting a PDP administration, they had money they don’t use their own money, they used government money, our own money to fight us so it’s almost like David and Goliath which is why when you asked how did I survive, I said God, because frankly speaking, people who had said less about Odili are not needed today.

Any of our media organisations could not carry our stories because if you carried it and you gave us the publicity that you are not supposed to give us, you are seen as an enemy of government because we do not care; I guessed that the system of politics, I understood it is as if you go and get into the mud, you will definitely get some of that mud on you so if you are going to play politics, politics and politicians have a bad image so naturally if you go into that political sphere, your image will be dented.

How would you describe Amaechi?

 Amaechi is good, very likeable, is blunt. His God fearing component was probably what stood out the most. Infact I remembered that when we were talking, I said to him, you know, I don’t want anything from you, but one of the things I want is that I want you to be God fearing. Something, I don’t know whether you do Fellowship in Government House, I don’t know what you are going to be doing but what I see about you, this God fearing component is what impressed me the most, so I don’t know how you are going to kill it, because if you deviate, I might be tired but I will fight you till Kingdom come but if you carry on like this no problem. And that is an important thing, anybody shouts God, God, the people shout God, God all the time but the people who go to Church the most at the end of the day are still the same people who are wicked and looking for how to undermine the other man. I like Amaechi but that does not mean PDP is good for you. You know is unfortunate that politics and politicians are not too different whether AC was there, we may have some of the same problem, if not even more but the fact remains that, this party has had this country for ten years and instead of going forward we are going backward.

Poverty is increasing, the common man is suffering even more, absence of education and heathcare, the list goes on. You know this is not about national politics per say but PDP as a party if I was a member I will be ashamed. I will be thoroughly ashamed what have I presented to the people as the way forward when I had had power, not just at the federal level but across the country.

All he needed was some organizations and some talking people and he had been able to move the country forward. To me, I’m really happy to be, I can speak freely, I can abuse Amaechi, I can abuse Yar’Adua, I don’t have to worry about some kind of sanctions and if the sanctions come and I am thrown out of politics, life goes on.

Although it is impossible to throw me out of politics, is it not sixty something parties now, so you just enter another one and keep talking so at the end of the day, it is the ability to speak your mind, do you understand, is a figment of what I don’t think I can put a vague on.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Issues

The Effect Of Gas Flaring On Climate Change

Published

on

Climate in simplicity of terms is the average whether at a particular place, incorporating the features such as temperature, precipitation, humidity and windiness.
The phenomenon Climate Change is a cyclic modification that occurs in the Earth’s climate due to the changes in the atmosphere and also the interactions between the atmosphere and other chemical, biological, geologic and geographical structure within the earth planet.Scientists have been able to study climate change by looking at tree cores, atmospheric composition, sediment cores, ice cores and through observation.
The atmosphere is a fluid that is constantly in motion. Both its physical properties, rate and direction are influenced by the variety of factors such as, solar radiation, ocean currents, geographic position of the continent and atmospheric chemistry. All these factors change through time. Some factors change in short periods of time while others change over very long timescale. As stated earlier, many factors can be responsible for climate change, one of such factors is the focal point of this article.
This article addresses the concept of climate change within the set of Gas Flaring, how this human activity constitutes to the trend in the earth system as well as possible solutions in view.
Gas flaring is an activity of man which has become an enormous contributor to climate change. It is loosely defined as the burning of natural gas.
When natural gas is produced as a byproduct of oil extraction, two options are available which are flaring or venting. Venting is a controlled release of unburned natural gasses into the atmosphere. During venting operations, methane, carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds and gas impurities are released. Conversely, flaring is the controlled burning of natural gasses into the atmosphere during production process.
Gas flaring is a major operation carried out by oil and gas production companies and has become a major contributor to the mayhem of global warming.
Gas flaring is a high-temperature oxidant process used to burn combustible components, mostly hydrocarbons of waste gases from industrial operations. Emission data shows that Natural gas, propane, ethylene, propylene, butadiene and butane constitute 95% of the waste gases flared.
During combustion reaction, several intermediate products are formed and eventually, most of them are converted to CO2and water. Some quantities of stable intermediate products such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen and hydrocarbons then escape as emission.
Gases flared in refineries, petroleum production, and chemical industries, are composed of low molecular weight with High Heating Value.
Flaring contributes significantly to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with negative impacts on the climate. These greenhouse gases prevents a significant amount of heat from the sun to escape into space rather these gases absorb some of the heat and cause a re-radiation. This radiation eventually increases the atmospheric temperature that causes a warming in the Earth’s surface. It is recorded that 1 ton of flare released into the atmosphere is equivalent to 3 tons of greenhouse gas emission. This warming, ‘Global Warming’ then results in a variation in the climate, otherwise known as Climate Change.
According to Engr. OsonduOpara, a Front-end Engineer at the National Liquefied Natural Gas Nigeria (NLNG), gas flaring cannot be completely eradicated or eliminated because combustion must take place when pressure builds else the result will be an explosion. It is rather feasible to mitigate the emission of the hydrocarbons released into the atmosphere. In the same vein, Engr. Dr. EmekaOkafor, a lecturer from the Department of Petroleum and Gas Engineering in the University of Port Harcourt, also asserts that ‘gas must be flared’.
Apparently, gas flaring is an unavoidable human activity carried out by Petroleum and Gas Production Companies. If this is the case, it is a phenomenon that has come to stay until technological measures which creates an alternative to flaring emerge. Of course, venting is still not a preferable option because it still does emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and environment.
We hope that the COP26, will come up with better measures to curb this menace of Gas Flaring and its impact on to global warming resulting to Climate Change.
Sources:
Engr. OSonduOpara; Osondu.Opara @nlng.com
Engr. Dr. Emeka Okafor: emeka.okafor @uniport.com
Aberetogha is an Editor with Zenger. news and resides in Bonny, Rivers State.

By: Augusta Lolo Aberetogha

Continue Reading

Issues

HIV/AIDS: As 2030 Draws Near…

Published

on

Years ago, the immediate past National Coordinator of the Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS In Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Victor Omoshehin, expressed fear over the ability of Nigeria to meet the United Nations’ “Vision 2030” of eliminating HIV in the country.
His fear stemmed first from the fact that Nigeria relies more on international donor agencies in terms of finance for HIV/AIDS-related programmes, and also the seeming inability of the Federal and State Governments to take up the responsibility of fully financing HIV/AIDS programmes. 
There was also the gradual withdrawal of their finances by such international donor agencies that were of the belief that, given the length of period they had spearheaded HIV/AIDS preventive programmes in the country, government at various levels should have been in position to own-up the processes.
Omoshehin summed up his fear thus: “If the Government of Change will not increase the domestic funding for HIV, then Nigeria cannot own up to the responsibility of achieving the Vision 90:90:90 by 2030 and we cannot end AIDS by 2030”.
During a visit to Nigeria from 7th to 10th of February, 2016, the then Executive Director of the United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS), Michel Sidibé, met with Nigeria’s Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, and urged the Federal Government to increase its support for the Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Week, with the aim that all pregnant women are tested for HIV by the end of 2016, and all women who test HIV-positive have immediate access to antiretroviral therapy.
The Vice President told Sidibé, during the meeting, that Nigeria was making huge budget allocations for social investment programmes, in part, to increase access to health care and help end the AIDS epidemic. 
How much this amounts to, and to what extent such budget was truly executed on the purpose it is meant for was not clearly stated. This was in the face of widespread allegations of non-accountability of funds allocated to the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
One question that readily comes to mind at this juncture is if anything else has been done towards changing the narrative for the better, especially in the light of the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic which many believe has distracted attention from HIV.  
In a recent interview with newsmen, the Director-general of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Mr. Gambo Gumel Aliyu, stated that the focus on Covid-19 has not affected the mandate of NACA in its quest to check the HIV/AIDS trend in Nigeria.  
According to him, “NACA has been up and doing in the fight against HIV/AIDS by implementing our mandate. We have done extremely well during the pandemic and have recorded huge results we had never recorded before. We are passionate and optimistic to achieve our mission to the letter”.    
While noting that HIV/AIDS in Nigeria is largely funded by international donor agencies, Aliyu explained that “Nigeria is contributing less than 10 per cent at the moment, and this contribution is what we are increasing on an incremental basis every year.    
“We have this agreement with them (donor agencies) that, every year, we shall take an additional 50,000 people living with HIV/AIDS from the total number they are treating to add to our number,” he said. 
On June 8, 2021, the United Nations’ General Assembly held a high-level meeting on AIDS in which United Nations member-states adopted a set of new and ambitious targets with a pledge to end all inequalities faced by communities and people affected by HIV towards ending AIDS.
Towards this end, they agreed to reduce the annual number of new HIV infections to under 370, 000 and AIDS-related deaths to 250, 000, eliminate new HIV infections among children, end paediatric AIDS and eliminate all forms of HIV-related discrimination by 2025. They also committed to providing life-saving HIV treatment to 34 million people by 2025.
It is believed that if the international community reaches the targets, 3.6 million new HIV-infections and 1.7 million AIDS-related deaths will be prevented by 2030. To achieve this, the political declaration calls on countries to provide 95% of all people at risk of acquiring HIV within all epidemiologically relevant groups, age groups and geographic settings with access to people-centered and effective HIV combination prevention options. 
It also calls on countries to ensure that 95% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 95% of people who know their status to be on HIV treatment, and 95% of people on HIV treatment to be virally suppressed. 
This target, 95:95:95, is an improvement from the previous ambitious target of 90:90:90, but has the same goal of either eliminating HIV, or reducing its spread to the barest minimum.
The question is what does this mean for Nigeria, knowing that towards the previous target of 90:90:90 the country’s efforts at meeting the target took a nosedive at some point in terms of funding, especially after international donor agencies started reducing their funding, leading to gradual pulling out.
Already, several HIV/AIDS programmes aimed at checking its trend have either gone moribund, or ignored because donor agencies no longer sponsor them. This is in the face of rampant allegations of deep-rooted fraud by way of diversion of monies meant for HIV/AIDS interventionist activities amounting to billions of Naira.
Meanwhile, the NACA DG last October stated that Nigeria needed the sum of $2.4 billion to control the spread of HIV in the country for the next three years. He explained that the amount is an estimation needed “to reach where we have targeted to be”.
According to him, the amount will enable Nigeria “to achieve the 95-95-95 initiative of the United Nations, where 95 per cent of people living with HIV know their HIV status; 95 per cent of people who know their status are on treatment; while 95 per cent of people are on treatment with suppressed viral loads, and we are on track”. 
He noted that “United States Government alone is investing, this year, over $400,000,000, global fund is investing over a $100,000,000 this year and the government of Nigeria is contributing its part”. 
Explaining Nigeria’s contributions further, Aliyu said “over the last one year, the Nigerian government invested about a $100,000,000, and 50, 000,000 persons are needed to be tested annually, but now the figure has been reduced because, when we did the estimation, we never knew we would identify such a huge number over the last 20 months. 
“So, with that projection, we may need to reduce the number and test below 50,000,000 persons to reach the range of 1,800,000 to 1,900,000; because, right now, we have 1,500,000. 
“Remember the annual incremental number is 50,000 to 60,000 every year. In the last two years, we identified 350,000, which is more than five times the number we identified every year”, he said.
With this, the NACA boss says the Agency is on its way to attaining its target to end HIV/AIDS by 2030.
“It is very feasible”, he said, adding that “We are not mincing words. In 18 months we have identified an additional 350,000 on treatment. In another 18 months, if we identify another 350,000 persons, we are done: we have reached the control level. 
“Once you reach the level, that is the first step. You have to reach the control level first, that is the condition. We have to control HIV first before we can end it. So, the control level is supposed to happen in 2025, but here in Nigeria we are very hopeful that this control level target will happen in 2022”, he said.

By: Sogbeba Dokubo

Continue Reading

Issues

Planting Trees To Save The Earth

Published

on

As an annual event, World Earth Day is celebrated to demonstrate support for environmental protection from degradation and experts say if the Earth has to be restored, humans must begin to plant as many trees as possible.
Until quite recently, it was common for people to plant trees as symbols of events; for instance, planting of orange or coconut trees in the name of a child, after its birth.
Marking the 2021 Earth Day celebration recently, the Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Port Harcourt, Professor Prince Mmom, said efforts at saving the trees is a race for the survival of the human race. With the theme: “Save The Trees, Save Humanity” organised by the Junior Chamber International (JCI), the varsity don said the Earth’s trees and forests are critical components of the world’s biodiversity as many forests are more biodiverse than others.
He pointed out that forests cover 31 per cent of the global land area and added that the total forest area is 4.06 billion hectares, which is approximately 50 x 100m per person.
Mmom explained that since 1990, it is estimated that 420 million hectares of forests have been lost through conversion to other land uses even though the rate of deforestation has decreased over the past three decades. According to him, between 2015 and 2020, the rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year, down from 16 million in the ‘90s and he said inhabitants on Earth risked losing basic life support systems rapidly on a daily basis.
The don maintained that the Global Tree Search database reports the existence of 60,082 tree species but that more than 1400 trees were assessed as critically endangered and in urgent need of conservation action. As at December 2019, he said, a total of 20,334 tree species had been included in the IUCN Red list of threatened species of which 8056 were assessed as globally threatened and, therefore, became vulnerable.
Emphasising the values of trees, he said from the existence of man on Earth, trees have furnished human beings with two of life’s essentials such as food and oxygen. As human beings evolved, he insisted that trees have provided additional necessities such as shelter, medicine and tools. His words: “Today, their value continues to increase and more benefits of trees are being discovered as their role expands to satisfy the needs created by our modern lifestyles”.
Mmom averred that trees are form an important part of every community as it concerns aesthetics and as he puts it: “we gather under the cool shade they provide during outdoor activities with family and friends”. He said that spiritually, they are beautiful and majestic, pleasant, relaxed, comfortable-feeling, inspirational, provide mental health and emphasised that many people plant trees as living memories of life-changing events.
The former Director, Centre for Disaster Risk Management, pointed out that trees are source of raw materials for industrial uses which generate income and eco-tourism potentials and added that they provide livelihoods that are essential for sustainable food production and medicines.
“Trees and forests are homes for the earth’s terrestrial bio-diversity”, he opined and said that the values of trees cannot be overemphasised as they contribute to their environment by providing oxygen and improving air quality.
He stated that Earth’s function of conserving water, preserving soil cannot be overlooked as shade from trees slows water evaporation and added that as trees transpire, they increase atmospheric moisture.
“They support wildlife, conserve soil and prevent erosion and nutrient loss; they are storehouses of large amounts of carbon, absorb carbon dioxide (Co2), removing and storing the carbon while releasing oxygen back into the air”, he explained.
In continental United States, the professor pointed out that non-federal forests store an estimated 38.6 billion metric tons of carbon which makes the climate to ameliorate. He regretted that rapid decimation of trees and forests is a threat to the survival of humanity even as he advised that human beings must take bold steps to reverse the trend for the benefit of present and future generations. As he puts it: “We must reduce the rate of deforestation.  We must plant more trees, cut one, plant ten and plant at least 100 trees a year”.
 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are doing more to create awareness on the need for people to plant more trees since one of the reasons is to secure the Earth especially with the soot all over the environment as a result of illegal refining of petroleum products.
Recently in Port Harcourt, Journalists for Sustainable Development in Nigeria (JSDN) flagged- off ceremony of the 2021 Tree Planting Campaign exercise with the theme: “Tree Planting Awareness Campaign: Combating Climate Change Through Sustainable Tree Planting Exercise”.
At the event, the Executive Director of JSDN, Pastor Parry Benson, appealed to those who felled trees in the name of harvest without replacement to stop as that was responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer, which is currently causing a serious threat to the health of humans on Earth.
He appealed to the Rivers State Government and other relevant authorities to set up taskforce that will be responsible for prohibition of felling of trees in order to tackle reckless cutting down of trees.
The Chairperson, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Rivers State chapter, Susan Serekara-Nwikhana, during this year’s flag-off of the 2021 tree planting exercise, urged people to plant trees in their surroundings if they wish to live longer on Earth.
An environmental engineer, Monday Amos, said, the Earth is for man and therefore human beings have to explore and exploit the earth and its resources to survive. He said that the result of exploitation on the Earth currently is the climate change, pollution and extinction of biodiversity that are due to the activities of man.
The activities of man on Earth, he said, are affecting humanity and this has given rise to how to solve the threat posed by the activities.
“But the Earth cannot remain the way it was created. As long as man dwells on Earth, activities carried out for man’s survival cannot be ignored. When people occupy a particular space definitely there will be a change in that environment”, he maintained. 
In the olden days as well as present day, man needed certain things to survive on Earth. Humans need firewood which is got from trees for cooking. Charcoal got from fire is used for ironing when used with charcoal iron. The smoke from burning firewood changes the atmosphere.  
So, because of these, experts say there is the need to explore sustainably instead of getting to the point of exploitation. Exploitation may take the Earth beyond its caring capacity to the extent that cannot replenish itself. The issue of climate change is due to extreme exploitation of the Earth, changes in activities in Earth – changes in period of rainfall, a little from the exact period as well as dry season and harmattan not taking place when they should.
Carbon dioxide is produced from activities of man, such as burning of petroleum products, gas and firewood. This, in the long-run, can affect the human system. In the Niger Delta area, according to experts, refining of petroleum products by throwing a lot of Co2 into the air and gas flaring heat up the system.  Economic activities by man contribute in damaging the Earth, environment and the eco-system. Yes, the activities are necessary for life to be sustained but the resources got from the Earth must be explored to achieve economic growth. 
So, sustainable development advocates that humans can achieve and explore the resources of the environment to achieve the economic growth without damaging the environment. This is the reason for advocating for renewable energies by many countries of the world to put a stop to the exploitation of the Earth.
For us to restore the Earth as much as we can, humans must plant trees to stop deforestation.  When trees grow, they form shade that stops Co2 in the atmosphere from eating the Earth.
Agricultural practises such as farming, hunting and fishing help man to survive in life but they have to be done sustainably. If humans have to restore the Earth, the locally operated refineries must be put to a stop because of black soot. Black soot is the implication of human activity on Earth. Since World Earth Day is an international activity; it is high time international best practices were put in place in refining. 
A chemical engineer, Titus Nbah, said modular refineries must be established in the Niger Delta region since locally operated refineries part of the problems affecting the Earth. Gas can be injected into the soil using the available technologies instead of flaring.  
He said Nigeria should domesticate some of the enabling laws which have been signed. Pupils should be educated from the kindergarten on laws guiding the rules on restoring the Earth. Since the essence of World Earth Day is to re-echo man’s commitment to the environment, the end product should be change of behaviour and policies that will restore the Earth.

By: Eunice Choko-Kayode

Continue Reading

Trending