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Govt Must Be Strict On Environmental Protection, Says Aregbesola

 

The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has urged government at all levels to take the issue of protection of the environment serious.
Aregbesola, thus, called on government at all levels to be more strict on the issue of environmental protection particularly matters of environmental impact of doing business.
He also advocated for the introduction of environmental protection and sustainable development as a distinct and compulsory course of study from primary to tertiary levels of education.
The Interior Minister spoke in Lagos on Monday, 7 June, 2021 at the commissioning of the new office complex of WordsWorth Environ Limited in Ikeja.
The Minister reiterated that protection of the environment is a duty for all hence, “we must all care for the earth so as to avoid the consequences of neglect and abuse of the environment”.
Aregbesola stated further that man has always and will always be dependent on earth, therefore all hands must be on deck to ensure adequate protection of the environment.
He explained further that the earth has been subjected to series of abuse which unfortunately has had dire consequences on man.
“Yet, the same earth has been subject to abuse and neglect, with dire consequences for the future of mankind. Anthropogenic activities have generated a lot of environmental challenges.
“These include but not limited to:oil spillage, global warming from fossil fuels, biodiversity loss, plastic pollution, deforestation, air pollution andoverfishing among others.
“The consequences include rise in sea levels and submergenceor threat of submergence of coaster cities. We don’t even need to stress this too much. Miles of Lagos coast have been lost in the last century and dramatically so in the last three decadesbefore our very eyes.
“Mammals, fishes, birds and other creatures have lost 70 per cent of their population due to oil spillage, deforestation, gaming and land, air and water pollution between 1970 and 2016, according to a recent WWF report. This is in addition to over 500 species that have become or on the brink of extinction. Every minute, forests the size of 20 football fields are cut down and never replaced, with the three countries most hit being Brazil (particularly the Amazon basin with the largest diversity of animals and plants on the earth), Republic of Congo and Indonesia,” the Minister said.
The Minister stated further that, “The earth is all we’ve got. The material composition of man is derived from the earth, from conception till death. All the inventions of man, for sustenance, convenience and recreation are all derived from the earth. Our biggest energy source, oil, is derived from the earth and as we begin the transition to renewable sources, we will still be dependent on the earth.
“The duty of environmental protection is for us all. It begins with picking litters through cutting our carbon footprints and introducing environmental protection and sustainable development as a distinct and compulsory course from primary to tertiary levels of education. Governments at all levels should also be more strict on environmental protection, especially matters of environmental impact of doing business.“
Read the full speech from the event below:
REMARKS BY THE MINISTER OF INTERIOR, OGBENI RAUF AREGBESOLA, AT THE COMMISSIONING OF WORDSWORTH ENVIRON LIMITED AT COMPANY’S CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS ON ALLEN AVENUE, IKEJA, LAGOS ON MONDAY JUNE 7, 2021
Protocols,
THE EARTH IS ALL WE’VE GOT
It gives me great pleasure to be at this event and be gathered with all these fine people on this special occasion. I must therefore thank the leadership and management of Wordsworth Environ Limited for the kind invitation to the commissioning of this impactful organisation and my designation as the Special Guest of Honour.
It is natural for us to take the earth for granted because we have always known it, just as we have always taken our parents, families, everything and the people we have always known for granted. Even God, we sometimes take Him for granted. While there could be mitigation for this error with God and humans, it is nearly impossible to avoid the consequences of neglect and abuse of the environment.
The earth is all we’ve got. The material composition of man is derived from the earth, from conception till death. All the inventions of man, for sustenance, convenience and recreation are all derived from the earth. Our biggest energy source, oil, is derived from the earth and as we begin the transition to renewable sources, we will still be dependent on the earth.
Yet, the same earth has been subject to abuse and neglect, with dire consequences for the future of mankind. Anthropogenic activities have generated a lot of environmental challenges. These include but not limited to:oil spillage, global warming from fossil fuels, biodiversity loss, plastic pollution, deforestation, air pollution andoverfishing among others.
The consequences include rise in sea levels and submergenceor threat of submergence of coaster cities. We don’t even need to stress this too much. Miles of Lagos coast have been lost in the last century and dramatically so in the last three decadesbefore our very eyes. Mammals, fishes, birds and other creatures have lost 70 per cent of their population due to oil spillage, deforestation, gaming and land, air and water pollution between 1970 and 2016, according to a recent WWF report. This is in addition to over 500 species that have become or on the brink of extinction. Every minute, forests the size of 20 football fields are cut down and never replaced, with the three countries most hit being Brazil (particularly the Amazon basin with the largest diversity of animals and plants on the earth), Republic of Congo and Indonesia.
According to WHO, 90 per cent of humans breathe polluted air and an estimated 4.2 to 7 million people will die every year due to air pollution. With the coronavirus in the past year, the figure has risen by a few millions. Rise in temperature, apart from melting icecaps and raising water level, it has also led to increase in bush fires, locust swarming, more microbial activities occasioning increase in infectious diseases and deaths. There is also reduction of freshwater to 3 per cent due to pollution, thus preventing 1.7 billion people on the planet from having access to safe water.
We cannot possibly exhaust the consequences of abuse of the environment in a day. But I must not fail to mention the fact that wars and conflicts have unimaginable consequences on the earth. Farmers are prevented from farming, leading to food shortage, famine and hunger. Bombs and other incendiary devices devastate huge expanse of land, seas and the air, making some of these places uninhabitable again. The mother of them all, nuclear weapons, in which there are enough stockpiles to wipe off humanity 50 times over, are just waiting in the wings. We pray that some crazies wont lay their hands on them.
Coming to our purpose of this gathering, oil spillage has made its ugly mark. The Ixtoc 1 oil spill of 1979 in the Gulf of Mexico remains the most devastating oil spill, with more that 3.3 million barrels of crude oil spilled in the ocean. The Amoco Cadiz (1978), Torrey Canyon (1967), Erika (1999) and Prestige (2002) were major headline grabbing oil spills that devastated the environment but in-between there were dozens of other but not less significant.
In Nigeria, according to NNPC, an average of 300 oil spills are recorded every year with an average of 2,300 cubic metres of oil spilled on land and water. However, 50 per cent of general oil spills are due to tanker and pipeline accidents. We are all familiar with rickety tankers catching fire and oil pipeline vandalism. Gas flaring and crude thefts and illegal refining are also factors that contribute to oil spillage in Nigeria.
This has resulted in destruction of the environment – flora and fauna, soil contamination making farming impossible and even fishing impossible, thereby taking away the means of livelihood of tens of thousands of people. The most worrisome consequence of oil spills is a 2016 study that established a direct causal linkage between oil spills and infant mortality, from conception to early childhood.
The emergence and operations of Wordsworth, a wholly indigenous company that specialises in environmental clean-up and related environmental protection activities, is therefore heart-warming. It is a thing of great joy for me to be at this commissioning therefore.
I must add that the duty of environmental protection is for us all. It begins with picking litters through cutting our carbon footprints and introducing environmental protection and sustainable development as a distinct and compulsory course from primary to tertiary levels of education. Governments at all levels should also be more strict on environmental protection, especially matters of environmental impact of doing business.
Once again, let me remind us that the earth is all we’ve got and the task of protecting it has to be borne by us all.
I congratulate Wordsworth for making the environment the focus of its business and wish it a resounding success. I urge other well-meaning Nigerians to follow suit.
I thank you all for your kind attention.
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola
Minister of Interior
Lagos

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