Some environmentalists recently supported the Federal Government’s plans to lower permissible sulphur levels in imported fuels.
Two renowned environmentalists, Rev. Nnommo Bassey and Alagoa Morris, declared their support in separate interviews with The Tide in Yenagoa.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had on March 13 announced that starting from July it will cut down sulphur levels in imported petrol and diesel.
Mr Anibor Kragha, the NNPC’s chief operating officer of refineries and petrochemicals announced the development during a presentation to the African Refiners Association Conference.
The experts noted that the proposed regulation would reduce the emission of sulphur, a toxic element into the environment.
Bassey however, said that there was an urgent need for the country to speed up in the global race for cleaner fuels.
According to the environmentalist, the proposed sulphur content cut in fuels is coming behind a July 2017 target by the country as part of a United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) campaign.
“It is sad that we are lagging behind other countries and regions in producing or importing cleaner petroleum product.
“It has been clear over time that producers and importers would go for the cheapest products available in order to maximize profits.
“The lack of policy coherence between government agencies make this sort of situation inescapable, there should be collaboration and synergy among government agencies for the overall good of the country,” Bassey said.
He noted that the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) had set the fuel emission standards in 2017 but the Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR) failed to update its own specifications.
“When this type of lapse happens, the marketers and racketeers will take the cheap route and wouldn’t give a damn about the impact on the health of the people.
“It is regrettable that while the world is moving to cleaner energy, including shifting to electric cars, in Nigeria we are showing scant urgency in even making dirty energy a little bit less dirty.
“Unfortunately, even this little step may offer a platform for an increase in pump price of the products,” Bassey said.
Morris, Head of Field Operations at Environmental Rights Action and Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), noted that it was time to increase local refining capacity as Nigerian crude grades had very low sulphur content.
According to him, Nigeria crude is sought after by foreign refineries who refer to Nigerian crude streams as ‘sweet and light’ due to its ease of refining and very low sulphur content.
He said that it was an irony that Nigeria is exporting the fine, sweet crude to other countries and importing heavy, bitter products.
“Yes, if ours is sweet and light due to the low sulphur content, definitely, the imported one with so much sulphur should be seen as bitter and heavy product.
“And, even when the world is moving away from fossil fuels, we can still see that within the fossil fuel sources, the experts still recognise that the heavier crude oil products are more injurious to our health and the Climate Change phenomenon.
“Nigeria is still holding on tenaciously to this more harmful source of fossil fuel.
“It is, however, interesting to note that Ghana met up with the 2017 deadline and, very sad to know even in this; Nigeria is shifting the goal post as is the case with ending gas flaring in Nigeria.
“This is, despite all the efforts the Civil Society has put into advocacy in spite of scarce resources. Nigeria is like the custodian of the so-called `African Time,” Morris said.
He called on government to give more attention to renewable, cleaner energy and less to crude oil that has brought the country, especially the Niger Delta so much violent conflicts and environmental degradation.
“It would even be better to fix our refineries and stop importation of refined products as this makes more economic sense than what is currently obtainable due to the aggregate of negative consequences.
“And, as the Environmental Rights Action and Friends of the Earth would say, leave the oil in the soil, protect the environment because the environment is our life,” Morris said.
We’re Hopeful Of Passage Of Water Resources Bill -Minister
The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, has expressed hope over the passage of the National Water Resources Bill before the National Assembly.
Adamu expressed the optimism while answering questions on the sidelines of a two-day training for Water Resources Correspondents, Editors, and News Analysts in the Nigerian Water Sector’ with theme, ‘Reporting Water in its Perspective’.
The Tide source reports that the training is to build capacity of reporters on water resources sector by having deep knowledge of terminologies and issues in the water sector.
The Tide also recalls that the Bill, which was introduced in the 8th Assembly, caused outrage as some Nigerians interpreted the law as a power grab by the federal Government.
“It is part of our roadmap as far as I am concerned. We will continue to engage with the National Assembly, now that they have come back from recess, we hope to engage.
“At the same time, we are talking to all other antagonists to allay the fears to accommodate whatever apprehension. We are very confident that we’ll get that bill passed,” the minister said.
He further stated that it was wrong for a section of Nigerians to completely criticize and condemn the whole Bill instead of pointing out areas that needs to be reconsidered.
“It doesn’t make sense if you have problem with the Bill; identify the key issue or problem if there is need for amendment instead to completely condemn just because of one or two items you are not satisfied with.
“In the National Assembly, you have public hearing, and we will still go back,” the minister said.
Community Residents Flay Dumping Of Sachets, Bottles In Drainages
Some residents of Eneka Community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State have condemned the indiscriminate dumping of water sachets and bottles in drainages and along the road in the community.
Speaking in an interview with The Tide in the community, they said the situation is not only an eyesore but responsible for incessant flooding being witnessed in the community.
Mr Chibuike Adim, indigene of Rumuoji Eneka condemned the practice, adding that it is this practice that blocked the gutters and caused flashed flooding in some areas in the community.
Adim called on the state government to save the community from the practice by constituting the tax force to check this habit.
He also said those who engaged in this practice are not only uneducated but also foolish, stressing that such people must be dealt with according to the law.
Also speaking, Miss Patience Odum also condemned the practice but added that there is no designated refuse dump site in the community.
Odum also urged for the provision of refuse receptacle in the area while the Rivers State Waste Management agency (RIWAMA) should also monitor the activities of the people.
Also speaking, Miss Alice Nsikak, a student of Rivers State University said the practice has become a big problem to the community as the entire drainages are blocked.
She stressed the need for sensitisation of the residence against the practice.
Nsikak also called on government to improve the method of refuse collection by providing waste bin to homes on the streets.
According to her, “people could be asked to pay little amount of money every month”, adding that the proposal will check the menace as well as check flash flooding in the community.
Also speaking with The Tide, Mr Ndubuise Ogom confirmed that dumping of plastic materials, refuge and pure water sachets in the drains is a very common practice in Eneka and also felt very bad about this practice.
This practice, added, must be stopped by government by promulgating laws to punish offenders. This if done, will prevent people taking part in such practice. He suggested, a fine of N1000 be slammad on those dumping refuge and plastic containers in the gutter.
By: Oribim Nyanaa Ibama, Elendu Obochi Esther & Inimgba Favour Victor
UNESCO Laments Impending Collapse Of Biodiversity …Says Human Survival At Risk
The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has raised alarm at the unprecedented speed which biodiversity is collapsing globally.
The Director-General of UNESCO Ms Audrey Azoulay, expressed this concern at the UNESCO 33rd session of the the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB-ICC) Programme in Abuja.
Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on earth at all its levels, from genes to ecosystems, and can encompass the evolutionary, ecological, and cultural processes that sustain
The director-general said that with the impending collapse, not only was human survival at risk, but also the beauty and the diversity of the world.
She said that the collapse was from the treetops to the ocean depths and from vertebrates to invertebrates, adding that no species was spared.
“This is the spirit driving UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme. It is what makes it so pioneering and so valuable.
“We all have to stand on the earth itself and go with her at her pace. With this impending collapse, not only is human survival at risk, but also the beauty, the diversity of the world.
“But this collapse is not inevitable: there is still time to make peace with the planet,” she said.
According to her, there is the conviction that we can re-forge our relationship with nature, that we can reconcile development and environmental protection.
“We must harness the power of education to rebuild our relationship with nature. UNESCO is fully mobilised to ensure that the environment becomes a key curriculum component by 2025.
“This is in line with the commitment made by the 80th governments we gathered at the Berlin conference last May.
UNESCO, a custodian of knowledge and know-how concerning biodiversity, has been developing concrete solutions to environmental challenges for over 50 years through the MAB programme and its network of protected sites, covering nearly six per cent of the planet.
With 714 biosphere reserves in 129 countries, including transboundary sites, UNESCO seeks to reconcile humans and nature and demonstrate that it is possible to use biodiversity sustainably while fostering its conservation.
The Minister of State for Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor, said that the world was facing planetary crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.
According to her, this global loss of biodiversity is threatening the security of the world’s food supplies and the livelihoods of millions of people including indigenous people and local communities, especially in the African region.
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