Expedite action on Ogoni clean-up NGO charges FG, Shell

Adebayo Obajemu

A non governmental organisation, NGO, ‘Our Tomorrow,’ has called on the Federal Government and Shell Exploration Company of Nigeria to expedite action on the Ogoni clean-up project in line with the directive of the United Nations Development Programme.

This, according to the NGO, is to restore to the people of the Ogoniland the ability to engage in productive activities, including fishing and farming in their lands.

The call is coming on the heels of the NGO’s recent fact-finding mission to the Ogoniland with a view to ascertaining the level of environmental pollution and the extent to which all the parties involved in the cleanup of Ogoniland has gone.

Speaking at the launch of the NGO in Lagos, Director, Our Tomorrow, Prince Emeka Obasi junior, said the organisation is set up with a view to rallying Nigeria youths in particular, and the continent in general and other stakeholders to rise up to challenge of confronting the growing environmental threats posed by corporate entities.

He stated that climate change and its effects on the planet has long worried policy and decision makers across the globe, environmental rights activists and ordinary people.

He stressed that in Nigeria, the issue of climate change is tied to the adverse effects of environmental pollution caused by oil exploration and drilling in the Niger Delta.

The Nigerian born British undergraduate, said the NGO is anchored on three broad objectives of waking African youths up to the reality of the existential threat climate change poses to their future; sensitising African leaders, both at the government, corporate and non-governmental levels, to heed the clarion call for sustained action against climate change, and mobilizing resources, both material and human, to campaign and create sustained awareness of Africans, especially the youths, on the need to be actively involved in the battle to save the environment for their future and for future generations.

“The organization last week went on fact-finding mission to the Ogoniland with a view to ascertaining the level of environmental pollution and the extent to which all the parties involved in the cleanup of Ogoniland has gone,” he said.

He therefore charged all the parties involved in the clean-up exercise to expedite action to help boost the people’s economic activities.

He highlighted the mammoth the threat climate change poses to the continued survival of Nigeria and other parts of Africa, but noted that he was confident that the youths have all it takes to avert the looming climate crisis, hence his decision to take up the responsibility of mobilizing action in this regard.

“Already, Africa is confronted by the twin challenge of insecurity and poverty, but climate change now threatens the continent’s very existence,” he said.

“But I am also optimistic about the future of our continent. I look at the numbers; the millions of young Africans doing exploits globally, and particularly at the fact that a vast majority of the population of Africa are young people, and my heart is gladdened.

“Yes, the challenge of climate change is enormous, but I’m confident that we have what it takes as youths of Africa to galvanize action towards averting the climate crisis that now stare us in the face, which is why I am writing to you today.”

Obasi noted that like Lagos, many cities in Africa, and indeed the continent in general, is under serious threat, highlighting already manifesting examples such as draught which is threatening food security and fueling security crisis.

“Lagos is a coastal city with a population of 24 million and is predicted to see 90cm of sea level rise by 2100 as a result of global warming. According to certain scientific projections, Lagos could become uninhabitable by the end of this century as sea levels rise,” Obasi said.

“It is, however, heartwarming that the state is already taking action to ensure that this potential disaster is averted. Not long ago, the the Lagos State government unveiled a five-year Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2020-2025. The goal, as stated by Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of the state, is to achieve an emission-neutral city by 2050.

“But the case of Lagos state is not unique. It typifies the acute environmental problems facing many parts of Nigeria. There is increasing desertification in the North, which has had very huge impact on security in the country; erosion in the East; oil spillage in the South/South, among others. The scenario is similar in other parts of Africa. Global warming is expected to melt Africa’s remaining glaciers in the next few decades, and the reduction in water essential to agricultural production will create food insecurity, poverty, and population displacement.

“Agriculture, which remains heavily dependent on rainfall, is critical to Africa’s economic growth, thus, climate change could potentially destabilize local markets, increase food insecurity, limit economic growth, escalate insecurity and increase risk for agriculture sector investors. Without doubt, for Africa to survive, sustained action must be taken beginning from today.

“In this, our generation has a very critical role to play, because as we say in Nigeria, the youths are the leaders of tomorrow. If we analyse that saying well, it makes a lot of sense. Of course, the future belongs to the younger generation – it is their inheritance – but as an old African saying has it, the young shall grow.

“The question I ask is, when the young must have grown, then what happens? The expectation is that when the young grow they will inherit the Earth. My worry is in what shape that Earth will be.

“So, it is important that young people become involved in the global effort to ensure that the Earth is in fit and proper condition to make a worthwhile inheritance. Therefore, the effort to improve the environment should be championed by the youths because the world of tomorrow belongs to us.

“Whereas it is true that today belongs to our fathers and mothers, tomorrow belongs to the children; to us, and what we do today will surely determine the fate of our tomorrow and the fate of those coming after us. Therefore, I have resolved to contribute my own quota towards the global push to create a more sustainable, safer, cleaner and healthier environment for the future by setting up an NGO, ‘Our Tomorrow.’”

He noted that the NGO “will become an active player in the climate change ecosystem and I am committed to getting the youths of Africa to commit to this noble endeavour.”