Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt
Stakeholders in the Niger Delta have been charged to protect the environment by tackling the challenge of pollution and reversing the environmental degradation in the region.
Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr. Efiong Akwa, gave the advice yesterday, during a meeting of the Niger Delta Environment Consultative Forum, hosted by the commission in Port Harcourt.
Akwa stated that NDDC would not relent in the quest to find solution to the environmental challenge in the region.
Represented by his Special Assistant, Technical, Engr. Ubongabasi James, Akwa said environmental degradation was an issue that affected everyone, irrespective of socio-economic status. He called for a collaborative approach to the environmental degradation issue.
James explained, “The forum will serve as an avenue for the rejuvenation of our degraded environment and restoration of our ecosystems.
“This is yet another strategic milestone in the commission’s quest to bequeath an environment devoid of all manners of pollution and the restoration of our degraded ecosystem coming from oil exploration and exploitation activities in the Niger Delta region.”
He disclosed that NDDC had consistently sought for solutions to environmental degradation in the region.
“We must strive harder after this forum to restore our environment for the sustainability of the Niger Delta region,” he added.
In his address, NDDC Director, Environmental Protection and Control, Onuoha Obeka, stated that the commission was aware of the United Nations Declaration of “A Decade of Ecosystem Restoration.” Obeka stressed that the commission was seeking ways to halt environmental degradation and improve environmental health practices in the Niger Delta.
He stated that recent research revealed that there was an increase in the level of heavy metals in the soil in the Niger Delta.
According to him, “These metals are carcinogenic and, therefore, harmful to plant and animal life…
“The effect of traces of these metals, which are known to be carcinogens, in our plant and animal protein cannot be over overemphasised. It is with this understanding and in fulfilment of our mandate enshrined in the NDDC Act 2000, that we have thought it wise to seek your collaboration in finding solutions to the environment question of the Niger Delta region.”
The lead consultant for the forum, Dr. Justin Akankali, said the goal of the programme was to find sustainable and long-term solutions to the challenge of environmental degradation and pollution in the Niger Delta.