The Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Efiong Akwa, has said that the commission was committed to restoring the ecosystem of the Niger Delta for the benefit of the people of the Niger Delta region.
Akwa, who spoke during a special programme in commemoration of this year’s World Environment Day, in Port Harcourt, said the NDDC was ready to work with other stakeholders in the region to achieve this feat.
Akwa, who was represented by his Special Adviser Technical, Ubong James, said that COVID-19 is a reminder of the harm that could happen if protection of the environment is not taken seriously.
“It is expected that by the year 2050, 95 percent of the earth’s land will be degraded if nothing is done to restore the ecosystem. If we are to reverse this ecological crisis and restore the ecosystem for the future generation, we must begin now by bridging the gap between rhetoric and reality and turn pledges into immediate action,” Akwa said.
He said one of NDDC’s mandates is to proffer lasting solution to the socio-economic difficulties in the Niger Delta region and turn it into “a region that is economically regenerative and politically peaceful.”
He assured that the NDDC Directorate of Environment Protection and Control would always ensure that its activities were carried out in an environmentally friendly manner by carrying out sensitization activities, identification of oil spill sites, heavy metal locations and potential erosion sites.
He said the commission conducts Environmental Impact Assessment, which is essentially conducted in most of our major projects before they are awarded and executed in line with the EIA Act of 1992 supervised by the Federal Ministry of Environment.
The NDDC Director, Environment Protection and Control, Engr. Onuoha Obeka, observed that ecosystem restoration simply meant preventing, halting and reversing the damage caused by environmental degradation.
He said that this year’s World Environment Day kicked off the UN decade on Ecosystem Restoration; a global mission to revive billions of hectares from forests to farmlands, noting: “Only with healthy ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counter climate change and stop the collapse of biodiversity.”
Obeka affirmed that it would require collaborative efforts of government institutions, corporate organisations, individuals and communities to make a reasonable impact in halting the rapid loss and conserving the existing ecosystem.
He said that massive education and awareness creation was essential to complement laudable plans such as the one created by UNDP through the Global Environment Facility (EGF) for restoration of biodiversity in the Niger Delta.
Obeka commended the Federal Government initiative on the Ogoni Cleanup. He said efforts to protect the ecosystem should include planning environmentally sustainable project implementation, engaging in afforestation projects, such as green field, mangrove forest restoration, shoreline protection and land reclamation, biodiversity conservation, stoppage of oil spills and gas flaring, regulating artisanal refinery activities as a means of curbing the black soot menace, clean water, sanitation and carbon sequestration to stem the tide of greenhouse gas emission.
In a paper titled, “Ecosystem Restoration: The Way Forward for the Niger Delta Region,” a professor of Fisheries, University of Port Harcourt, Nenibarini Zabbey, said that the task of restoring the ecosystem entailed a multi-stakeholder initiative.
He called on the NDDC to sponsor scholars in ecological engineering to help in carrying out studies that would inform appropriate laws and policies for the protection of the environment.
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