Former Minister of Industry and past President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chief (Mrs) Nike Akande has said the time for Nigeria and its people to start protecting the environment in the real sense of it is now and not later.
She said this was highly important in the face of current and virulent environmental menace from air and water pollution to climate change that are threatening humans, animals and plants existence and sustainability in Nigeria and Africa by extension.
Akande made this observation as a keynote speaker at the 15th edition of the Annual Research Conference and fair organised by the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Akoka recently and connected virtually by many participants.
Speaking via recorded video on the theme of the programme, ‘Saving the earth,’ the former minister expressed worries over what she called “I don’t care attitude” by many to keep the environment healthy and habitable, adding that whereas human survival depends largely on safety of the environment.
She listed major environmental activities in Nigeria to include but not limited to air and water pollution, biodiversity loss, soil degradation, deforestation and climate change, saying each of these had grave consequences on human existence.
For example, she said that an estimated eight million death occurs yearly across the world including Nigeria due to indoor and outdoor air pollution from household cooking using coal, wood, and biomass stoves, dust from bad roads, burning of waste and vehicular emission, among others.
She also noted that about 40 per cent of world population equally faces chronic shortage of fresh water for daily needs just because most of the rivers have been polluted through human activities including dumping of industrial waste and coal mining.
While explaining the impact of climate change on agricultural development and food security as well as industrial sector particularly in Nigeria, Akande said the impact was huge on the country’s economy generally considering the strategic importance of particularly agriculture to economic output and employment generation in the country.
About deforestation, she said people must be discouraged from felling down trees without replacing them and that the country as a whole must be able to transit from fossil fuels economy to more environmental-friendly renewable energy economy as the former are not longer sustainable apart from being unfriendly to the environment.“So, we must all be environmental-conscious in our actions and activities for the betterment of all of us,” Akande said.
On their parts and speaking separately at the event, the Vice-Chancellor of UNILAG, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academic and Research, who also doubles as the Chairman of Central Reseach Committee of the programme, Prof Oluwole Familoni, said the university came up with the annual research conference and fair to bring together researchers in African countries for them to showcase their innovations and discoveries towards solving societal problems across fields.
They said the university initiated the programme 15 years ago during the administration of Late Professor Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe when he was the Vice-Chancellor and is able to sustain it till date.
According to Ogundipe, the programme has been bringing town and gown together to jointly provide solutions to human problems.
He said many solutions ranging from health-related issues, to pharmaceutical, engineering, sciences, humanity and social sciences had been provided through the programme yearly.
He pointed out that the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic though with serious effects on all sectors of the economy including education, the need for combination of electronic and physical classroom teaching and learning in schools is now a paramount.
He said UNILAG focused on saving the environment at this year conference to be able to show Nigeria and its people the effective way to protect the planet earth for the benefit of all.
He said everyone from young to old and across sexes and societal strata, either educated or illiterates would need to play his or her own part to keep the earth fit for all to live comfortably.
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