Two environment groups in Nigeria, the Bonny Environment Consultant Committee (BECC) and the Association of Environmental Lawyers of Nigeria, have decried the devastating impact of the massive dead fishes floating along the Bonny coastline in Rivers State which they say have destroyed economic lives of the inhabitants of the area, with a call for the provision of palliatives to them.
The groups which made their position known in separate interviews with The Tide in Port Harcourt said it was not enough to unravel the causes of the dead fishes on the coastline but that there was the need to provide palliatives to the people whose livelihoods have been adversely affected by the ugly incident.
The Chairman of Bonny Environment Consultant Committee, Prof. Sodeinye Abere, who described the incident as disturbing, said on confirming the veracity of the massive dead fishes on the Bonny coastline, his committee directed the people to stop harvesting, buying and eating fishes for now, thereby temporarily putting on hold their means of livelihoods.
According to him, “the stench of the dead fishes alone is very, very disturbing. Ordinarily, the coastline dwellers enjoy the cosy breeze that comes in and refreshes their bodies. It is no more the case. More than that, with the Coronavirus issue restricting people’s movement, again, the ordinary Bonny man can go behind of his house at the creek and fetch fish to subsist with, but he cannot do that any more. The economic load now would be so much on the ordinary natives.”
To cushion the effects of this seeming disruption of the people’s socio-economic wellbeing, Prof. Abere said there was the need to provide palliatives to them. “Palliative measures are also solicited because our people waiting to die of Coronavirus should be alive first”, he said.
He pointed out that there was also the need not to only investigate the circumstances surrounding the dead fishes but also the physiochemical properties of the water where the fishes live, stressing that if not properly handled, the situation can become a pandemic in Nigeria.
On his part, the President of the Association of Environmental Lawyers of Nigeria, Dr Samuel Chisa Dike said the body was disturbed by the development and urged the Federal Government to treat the issue the same way it is treating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dike, an Associate Professor of Energy and Environment Law at the Rivers State University, stressed the need for critical stakeholders to work together to address the issue.
“ You never can tell who has consumed this specie of fishes since one month now. And we want to be sure that government is sensitised about it, because there is the tendency to tell the people about the danger of consuming the fishes but another thing is what happens to their economic lives?”, he queried.
By: Donatus Ebi
Bushmeat Consumption Can Endanger Wildlife Preservation – NGO
WildAid, a non-governmental organisation, has advised against indiscriminate consumption of bushmeat to avert the extinction of some animals.
Mr Linus Unah, West Africa representative, WildAid, gave the advice in Lagos at the launch of its Campaign against Bushmeat Consumption.
Unah said that a report commissioned by WildAid in the last quarter of 2020 exposed widespread bushmeat consumption in Nigeria, especially across Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Calabar.
According to him, the reports say people consume bushmeat mainly because of its taste, cultural dictates and health benefits, while disregarding its potential links to zoonotic diseases, including COVID-19.
“We need to educate urban Nigerians, who typically live far away from forests where bushmeat is often harvested, about the risks of zoonotic diseases, the conservation impact of bushmeat trade and the fact that current wildlife laws prohibit the hunting and trade of several species,
“Faced with enormous threats including hunting for bushmeat, wildlife species in Nigeria have declined dramatically over the past 50 years.
“Today, Nigeria has fewer than 50 lions, 100 gorillas, 500 elephants and between 1,400 to 2,300 chimpanzees left in the wild.
“Between 2016 and 2019, over half of the Pangolin scales seized globally come from Nigeria.
“ The illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth 7 billion dollars and 23 billion dollars annually,’’ Unah said.
In his welcome speech, Dr Muhtari Aminu-Kano, the Director-General of Nigerian Conservation Foundation, thanked WildAid for choosing to partner NCF in the campaign against bushmeat.
Represented by Stephen Aina, Species Programme Coordinator, NCF, Aminu-Kano called for the conservation of wildlife to conserve balance in the eco-system.
In her Goodwill Message, Mrs Stephanie Linus, a Nigerian Veteran Actress, and also WildAid Bushmeat Campaign Ambassador, called for the collaboration of everyone in the campaign against indiscriminate consumption of bushmeat.
“We need to act now to protect our wildlife, “ Linus said.
Also, Dr Mark Ofua, a Wildlife Conservationist, expressed worry that protected species of wildlife are being endangered.
Ofua said it was disheartening to see the sale of protected species of wildlife sold in the open market.
He called on the law enforcement agencies to do the needful in this regard.
Earlier, Mr Peter Knights, CEO, WildAid, said the NGO had a mission to end the illegal wildlife trade everywhere.
Knights noted that the organisation had worked successfully in East Africa in the areas of wildlife conservation.
Expert Cautions FCT Residents Against Indiscriminate Refuse Dumping
Society for the Promotion of People‘s Right, an NGO, has urged FCT residents to stop indiscriminate dumping of refuse to promote environmental health in the area.
President of the society, Mr Williams Osaze, an environmental expert made this known in an interview with The Tide source in Abuja.
He said the organisation had noticed the indiscriminate dumping of refuse along the road sides, gutters and open places by some residents.
According to him, the NGO has observed that refuse heaps generated in homes, markets, shopping areas and other public places are supposed to be collected by the appropriate agencies.
“I know too well that there are some agencies that are in charge of collection of waste in various areas in the FCT, but people are dumping their waste indiscriminately, instead of using them.
“Meanwhile, some of these waste collectors are not being monitored appropriately; sometimes they fail to discharge their duties the way it ought to be.
“I also noticed that even when the waste is collected in the available dilapidated trucks; it usually ends up being littered on the streets to the discomfort of other road users,’’ he said.
Osaze said that the indiscriminate dumping of refuse could lead to environmental threats, thereby causing spread of diseases to people and health challenge.
He called on government agencies to collaborate with other relevant stakeholders to sensitise people on the negative effect of indiscriminate dumping of refuse.
Others, Osaze said include cutting of trees and other activities that could lead to environmental challenges in the area.
The president said that the collaboration would also help to address the deteriorating conditions of waste management in the environment.
He said that there was the need for the FCT authorities to empower the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency, (AEPB) and other local councils to enable them deliver effectively on their mandates.
Osaze also advised that the authority should embark on proactive measures that would address waste management by repairing all collection vehicles, provision of additional waste bins to minimise indiscriminate dumping.
He said, “As well as engaging other relevant stakeholders for strong sensitisation in other to mobilise the residents to lend a helping hand in waste management.
“Also, to ensure that all drainages are constructed while those damaged should be repaired, provision of permanent landfill sites for refusal is also part of the measures.
Osaze advised the authority to strengthen the capacities of local governments through adequate and continue release of funds in waste management activities.
The president said that Public Private Partnership (PPA) on waste management would go a long way in tackling the problem.
He added that supporting those agencies in the sector to help develop policies on environmental and waste management was also one of the proactive measures to address the threats.
“I am hopefully believed that if these ideas are being implemented by the government, the FCT environs will be transformed and look attractive,’’ he also said.
Monarch Hails Wike Over Promise To Sandfill,Reclaim Lands
The Amanyanabo of Abonnema, King Disrael Gbobo Bob-Manuel, has commended Governor Nyesom Wike for directing the immediate sandfilling and reclamations of more lands for Abonnema Community.
King Bob-Manuel who said this in an interview with newsmen over the weekend while reacting to the commissioning of the Abonnema Ring Road project, said the move would not only expand the community’s land mass, but create opportunities for further development of the community.
The monarch said the newly commissioned Ring Road project was very essential as it would serve as an alternative route in and out of the densely populated Island.
According to him, Abonnema is cosmopolitan and home to all Nigerians and people who come in and out of the town for one business or the other and also sometimes get stuck in traffic gridlock due to the narrowness of the only entry and exit road, adding that with the ring road project and a connecting bridge, the situation is now a thing of the past.
He also said the road would serve both Abonnema and Obonoma Communities which share common boundaries.
King Bob-Manuel further said Governor Wike has distinguished himself among his peers as a man who came prepared for the job as his massive infrastructural development, has continued to attract wide commendations from far and near.
The first class monarch also commended Governor Wike for the on-going inauguration of projects across the state, describing them as dividends of focused and visionary leadership.
He also dismissed claims that the governor was only concentrating projects in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas, wondering if Abonnema was part of the two LGAs as claimed.
The mnarch urged Rivers people to continue to support the administration of Governor Wike, noting that it was Biblical for citizens to support and pray for their leaders.
Governor Wike, had earlier said during the commissioning, that it was not the length of the ring road that mattered, but its importance to the people.
He stated that the ring road would now serve as an alternative route in and out of Abonnema and Obonoma towns.
Wike also announced that the adjoining mangrove will be dredged to provide land for the people of Abonnema and Obonoma that they can use for future development.
“Having done this, the next thing for us to do is sand-filling so that they can have land to build on. I know how important land is to them.
“I therefore direct the Special Adviser on Special Projects to meet with the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) to make sure we award a contract of sand-filling of Abonnema-Obonoma areas.”
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