In a bid to ameliorate the adverse effects of crude oil pollution activities on crop farms, relevant stakeholders have been urged to establish comprehensive scientific rehabilitation programme centres in Rivers State.
Speaking during the 47th inaugural lecture series of the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (IAUE), Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt, recently, titled: ‘Crude Oil Pollution, Crop Production and Farmers’ Welfare In Rivers State’, the inaugural guest lecturer, and Professor of Agricultural Production and Environmental Economics, Prof ThankGod Peter Ojimba stressed the need to establish rehabilitation centres in the State.
Ojimba while describing the inaugural lecture as apt, added that establishing such rehabilitation centres in the State would go a long way in addressing crude oil pollution as well its negative effects on crops.
He explained that the acquisition of crop farms from peasant farmers in Rivers State for crude oil exploration, exploitation and production activities has deprived crop farmers of tangible areas of land, resulting to loss of farmlands and output, hence, impoverishing the peasant crop farmers.
The Professor emphasised that the inadequate pattern of handling oil pollution issues by multinational oil companies in the State had caused more hardship on crop farmers than blessings.
Ojimba added that there is need to intensify the dissemination of benefits, from rehabilitation programmes as well as educating crop farmers on best practices and functional measures to adopt in case of unavoidable crude spillage.
He said commensurate fine should be paid to owners of farmlands without delay or denial, adding that this would help these farmers look for alternative means of livelihood instead of dying in abject poverty as a result of the oil spill.
“Adequate list of all farmlands affected by crude oil pollution should be compiled and commensurate amount of compensations paid by oil companies responsible for the acquisition of land affected to the owners of such farmlands promptly in line with economic trends in the country after the correct evaluation of land and crop areas lost have been ascertained by experts.
“If compensations are paid promptly to farmers affected by crude oil pollution, they will seek alternative means of livelihood by diversifying their resources and sources of income to seek for greater off-farm income.
“This would in turn create less dependency on crop farming in crude oil pollution-prone areas will help reduce the tension, conflicts, violence, protests poverty and hardship, agitation of resource control between the host communities and the multinational oil companies and the government, among others,” he said.
He recommended that educating farmers on best practices as well as functional measures to adopt whenever oil spillage occurs would help in protecting farm crops against crude oil pollution.
On his part, the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Okechuku Onuchuku stated that oil production and hydrocarbon activities in the society had actually increased the poverty level of the people.
Onuchuku explained that the inaugural guest lecturer had presented an empirical view of developing a model that would address the crude oil pollution using crop production as a dependent variable and crude oil production as an expiring variable.
“The result shows very clearly that crude oil production has actually affected our crop production negatively because of its negative impact on farmlands and aquatic life.
“You know, when there is oil spill, you will find aquatic life very difficult as the fishes which is our food and a major source of income will die, thereby bringing untold hardship on the people in the State,” Vice Chancellor said.
By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana
Education: UNICEF Raises Fresh Concern Over Learning Crisis In Nigeria
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has raised a fresh concern over the learning crisis Nigeria is currently grappling with, urging stakeholders, particularly the government at all levels to, as a matter of priority, take stronger actions and commitments towards addressing the challenge.
The global agency noted that the crisis, particularly at the basic education level is stalling meaningful development in the country and globally by extension.
The Education Specialist, UNICEF Nigeria, Yetunde Oluwatosin, raised the concern at a two-day media dialogue organised by UNICEF Nigeria in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency, Lagos State, and the Edo State Universal Basic Education Board, recently.
The workshop with newsmen from print, broadcast and online media from the South-West region as participants, has “Turning the Tide on Nigeria’s Learning Crisis” as its theme.
Making a presentation and quoting from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), Oluwatosin disclosed that 73 per cent of Nigeria’s children, aged 10 years below, with the majority in the North and from the poorest families and in rural communities, were struggling to read or comprehend simple text, while an alarming nine out of every 10 children (90%) in sub-Saharan Africa generally were also confronting with learning difficulty.
She also noted that while only one out of 14 children between ages seven and 14 years could demonstrate fundamental skills, only 25 per cent have numeracy skills capable of solving simple mathematical problems.
Oluwatosin equally pointed out that although up to 73 per cent of Nigeria’s youths were literate, only seven per cent possessed the necessary ICT skills required for the digital economy while just eight per cent of children from the poorest families attend school compared to 78 per cent of their peers from the richest homes.
She said all these conditions, among others, are widening the inequality gaps between the children from the poorest homes and those from the richest families and also between those living in urban and rural communities.
She therefore recommended that the trend would need to be reversed otherwise it would be difficult to lift many children and young adults in the country out of extreme poverty and also out of criminal activities.
She, however, attributed the crises to a number of factors including limited infrastructure, inadequate funding, gender parity, shortage of qualified teachers, poor delivery system, and insufficient learning data and materials, among others.
She emphasised UNICEF’s efforts in filling the gap in a way it can including provision of learning materials for over 1.8 million children between 2018 and 2022 and further plans to reach another 4.8 million children primarily in the North, by 2027.
NUT Reacts To Threat By RSG On Penalisation Of Public Schools Principals, Head Teachers
Threat by the Commissioner, Rivers State Ministry of Education, Prof Chinedu Mmom to sack Head Teachers and Principals who contravene government policies on free education has generated more reactions.
Chairman of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in Rivers State, Mr Collins Echikpu has said the principals in public schools are facing challenges that are drastically affecting the smooth running of the school administration due to lack of payment of impress by the ministry.
Echikpu clarified that some of the levies collected from parents through their wards in these public schools were used in the day to day running of the school activities.
The NUT chairman called on the state government to implement the promotion of teachers, so as to improve their efficiency and effective service delivery.
“We expect the state government to do the needful by implementing the promotion of teachers so as to encourage them to efficiently and effectively discharge their duties as expected”, Collins said.
Meanwhile, some Head Teachers in the public schools in Rivers State are calling for proper management of teachers in the state.
Some of the Head Teachers who spoke during a meeting with the Commissioner for Education in Rivers State, said lack of proper management of teachers in the public schools is responsible for the challenges facing the education sector in the state.
RSG Set To Penalise Public Schools Extorting Students
Rivers State Ministry of Education has warned principals in public schools against extortion of fees from parents whose wards are in the public schools in the state.
Commissioner for Education in Rivers State, Professor Chinedu Mmom issued the warning during a meeting with Principals of public schools held in Port Harcourt, last Wednesday.
Mmom regretted that despite efforts by the current administration to provide education at zero cost for students in the state, some principals in the public schools have devised ways to extort money from parents.
“Despite efforts by the current administration, some of the public schools are still bent on frustrating efforts put in by this administration to achieve zero extortion and free education in the state,” he said.
He cautioned school principals against sabotaging the efforts of government as anyone caught would face the full wrath of the law.
By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana
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