MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES IN NIGERIA
By Adesokan Adedamola
Osun State, Nigeria
In recent years, attention has taken a turn towards the emergence of environmental issues which include pollution, congestions, desertification, dumping of industrial waste, deforestation, erosion, soil degradation and climate change. Whose effect has surged majorly because of human actions and inactions majorly caused by industrialisation and population. To further provide a solid backing, a discourse has been drawn from the interdisciplinary pool of resources sourced from all sciences to show the direct humans interact with the immediate environment. This term was first drawn from the work of Lawrence Buell. These issues are not independent of the increment in the world population and according to the U.S Census Bureau, Nigeria population would be around 450 million by 2050. This is a thing to be worried about. As of now, the country has been revamped majorly by air pollution, water pollution, desertification, industrial waste, oil spills, deforestation and erosion.
Nigeria is an oil-rich country with about 95 of its wealth pulled from it and export 65% of her total revenue. There are some parts of the country called "the Niger-Delta" which is where all the oils are being extracted. They get a large share of the revenue but at the expense of their lands. The oil that spills on farmlands prevents water absorption by the soil which chokes off plants' lives. This means the people habituating these areas where oil are extracted cannot engage in any agricultural activities.
This is so bad that even 5 meters away from land surface oil is found. This has crippled a lot of activities in that area and the environment has suffered greatly from this industrial activity. A lot of ways has been suggested which include Berms/Trenches, Bioremediation, In-situ Burning, Manual Recovery, Monitoring, Sorbents or Wildlife Clean-up. In that part of the country (Nigeria), animals are also greatly disadvantaged as so many of them find the environment toxic for them. The water is contaminated, the green grass is poisonous. Some rare animals that are found mainly there has virtually gone into extinction. According to the Nigerian government, more than 7,000 oil spills between 1970 and 2000 and could take over 25 years to clean up the entire region. The Niger-Delta comprises of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.
This is another major 'pandemic' in the ecosystem management in Nigeria. Individuals, corporate bodies and government cut down trees, level bushes and refuse to replant. According to the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) that Nigeria has lost 96% of its forest to deforestation with 11.1% alarming rate per annum. A nation blessed with such a vast land and rich in biological resources are battling this 'curable disease'. It is one of the nations endowed with the richest biodiversity in the world.
Also, Nigeria was left with twelve (12) strict nature reserves, twenty-eight (28) game reserves, four hundred and forty-five (445) forest reserves and eight (8) national parksat the point of independence but today they are virtually nowhere to be found. Forest habitats are being destroyed while the bushes are set on fire. Animals are being killed carelessly, trees are being cut down recklessly and the country is on the verge of running out of some supposed common animals. This has affected the environment and has caused a lot of mayhem to people's houses, buildings and all. This careless actions of the people have caused the loss of biodiversity (that implies that organisms that might be useful over time are being destroyed), impacted the hydrological cycle (the forest during rainfall intercepts and absorb the energy of the raindrop and that directly affect the velocity when it hits the surface of the earth thereby reducing it.
INDUSTRIAL AND SOLID WASTE
This is almost certainly predictable because the country (Nigeria) has a very huge population to its name. It has about 200 million population which makes her the most populous state in Africa. As she houses the largest market place in Africa, it has a lot of multi-international companies' residing in the country. These companies specialisation span across manufacturing firms, automobile companies, recycling industry, oil companies and shores and big engines are used at each of these companies and beyond. This automatically translates to people moving from their home countries to settling here to make ends meet and the indigenes also move from their rural areas to urban centres and they include Lagos, Abuja, Rivers, Bayelsa, and Ogun and so on. This directly congests the urban areas and leading to various life-threatening activities.
The more materials are used the more they are disposed which automatically contaminate the air, water and environment. This contributes to the contamination of the environment which causes harm to lives and property. The companies during production contaminate the air through puffs of smoke thereby contaminating the air and another problem is the siting of the companies in the neighbourhood where people lives.
As they pollute the air and contaminate the water. Individuals to do their own at the other end. The people of these cities dump their sewage waste, dirt away from designated points and this often leads to flooding and those that were taken away from the shores of the neighbourhood are dumped on waterways thereby causing erosion too.
RESOLVING THE ISSUES OF ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY IN NIGERIA
National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) put the illiteracy level at 30% of the whole population. This is such a bad figure as this consequentially wreck all efforts to revamp and educate the citizen, but then it is not unfixable. The first step towards ensuring the sustainability of the ecosystem is to educate the citizen on the economic and biological effect of burning bush and cutting down trees without replacement, dumping of refuse on waterways, proper sewage disposal and so on. The need for NOA (National Orientation Agency) to embark on wide dispersal of information to the populace in languages they understand. Another way is to ensure strict compliance by making firm rules and measures to protect it.