Environmental actors should not be deceived by the loud noise made across the country to mark this year’s World Environment Day.
In reality, the country is barking more than it bites at how to curb worsening environmental degradation, while the annual official commemoration of the day has become a most ineffective routine. Halting environmental destruction requires greater commitments in policy formulation and implementation, and the initiatives deserve consideration by all levels of government.
As expected, a number of states marked World Environment Day by hosting talk shows or organizing tree planting activities. Although these are part of supporting the environment and life, they are deficient for lack of necessary follow-up to their logical end. As a result, rivers are drying up, puddles are polluted, the desert is expanding rapidly, forests are thinning out, oil exploration is ending farming and fishing activities, and the stench of pollution and the misuse of the environment takes hold everywhere.
This year’s World Environment Day, whose theme is “One Earth”, provides a platform to raise awareness and rally stakeholders, including governments, cities, businesses, organizations and individuals, to intensify actions to protect and restore the planet.
Unfortunately, the environment is a largely neglected issue in Nigeria. Nevertheless, in Edo State, the government has launched a campaign to restore the ecosystem and preserve the environment by embarking on tree planting in the Beninese metropolis and other places, including Oredo Girls Secondary School in Benin City. This involves the Edo Ministry of Environment and Sustainability Commissioner Jonathan Lawani urging all state stakeholders to support the government’s efforts to engender environmental sustainability, ensuring a healthier and more sustainable state. clean for all citizens.
His words are instructive: “There is no other land than the one you and I protect. We all know the exchanges between plants and animals in terms of carbon dioxide and oxygen without which we would not be alive. We need a good environment for our trees which in turn will help us synchronize carbon dioxide and give us oxygen to live. It is our collective responsibility to protect our environment and our planet.
In Lagos, the US Consulate and other groups celebrated the Day with school children as the Lagos State government seeks to take action against environmental degradation and pollution.
The Acting Consul General of the United States (United States), Brandon Hudspeth, participated in a tree planting event with students from St. Savior School, Ebute Metta, Lagos along with the Director General of Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA). “Planting trees is one of the most important things we can do to help keep the planet healthy,” Dr Fasawe noted.
In Cross River State, experts have expressed fear of the climate crisis as loggers deplete forests. Stakeholders have warned that logging in the state poses a threat to sustainable forest management, as more than 91,000 tons of timber leave the state each year due to illegal logging. Environmental experts fear that with reckless logging in the forests, within the next 10 years the state will have no more forests.
Essentially, World Environment Day is simply used by government officials to give nice keynote speeches and repeat the same environmental problems plaguing the country without providing a solution. The country was unable to present an environmental breakthrough for its ceremonies. Deforestation has taken on an alarming dimension and has canceled annual tree-planting exercises to contain the threat. Firewood and lumber merchants continue to unrestrainedly ravage the now fragile vegetation cover of the entire country.
There has been no reduction in the massive annual floods that swallow lives and properties in different parts of the country every year. What has been done to contain the endemic gully erosion that is ravaging parts of the southern states; or the rapid and pervasive desertification that has virtually engulfed the entire northern landscape from the fringes of the Sahara Desert in the north to the Niger-Benue Depression?
What about the unbridled poaching of wildlife and its thriving bushmeat industry frequented mostly by the elite? Nigeria’s membership of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) makes no sense, as no biodiversity is protected in the country.
Virtually all of the country’s zoos in Ibadan, Jos, Enugu, Maiduguri, Owerri, etc. that flourished in the 70s and 80s are on the verge of extinction. The unfortunate animals were either starved to death or exposed to poaching. The catalog of woes plaguing the environment is numerous and includes the virtually extinct Lake Chad which has become the subject of international diplomatic discussions by government and multilateral agencies.
It is time for governments at all levels to commit to concrete actions to stem these endemic problems, beyond the fanfare of celebrating World Environment Day each year. The country should aim, for example, to celebrate a successful environmental issue being resolved at this important global event. Otherwise, it’s pure hypocrisy that every year on June 5, state and federal authorities go to the capitals to plant tree seedlings that are immediately forgotten as soon as everyone leaves the premises.
Blessed with being outside the natural regions plagued by hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis that ravage other climates, Nigeria should avoid man-made disasters occasioned by poor governance, greed and avarice. The devastation of the country’s trees and forests by greedy timber merchants in defiance of environmental protection laws must be consciously stopped.