Port Harcourt – Mrs Ibim Semenitari, the acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has said that urgent steps have to be taken to save the Niger Delta environment.
A statement issued by the Commission`s Head of Corporate Affairs, Mr Chijioke Amu-Nnadi in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, said that Semenitari made the call at the launch of NDDC-sponsored tree planting in Port Harcourt.
The programme is part of activities by the commission to mark the 2016 World Environment Day, which comes up on June 5, the statement said.
Semenitari said the 2016 celebration was significant as it would coincide with President Muhammadu Buhari’s expected launch of the clean-up of oil spills in Ogoniland, Rivers, on Thursday.
“We all owe future generations a responsibility to preserve biodiversity of the Niger Delta by becoming agents of change, who will make positive impacts on our environment and planet.
“The theme of 2016 World Environment Day is “Illegal Trade in Wildlife” – which has eroded earth’s precious biodiversity and robbed us of our natural heritage and threatened extinction of species.
“Tackling the scourge of illegal trade in wildlife requires concerted action because illicit business of wildlife has damaged the environment, livelihoods, communities and security.
“There is need for the people to change their habits and behaviour because if we change our altitudes, demand for illegal wildlife products would fall,” she said.
Semenitari added that killing and smuggling of wildlife was hazardous to the environment as it undermined economies and ecosystems; fuelled organised crime and encouraged corruption and insecurity across countries.
She called on vandals to have a rethink before destroying oil and gas installations, saying that spills from petroleum facilities further polluted the environment.
Semenitari said “our ecosystem is our wealth, and protection of our environment should be the collective responsibility of all who live and do business in the region.’’
On his part, Prof. Lawrence Ezemonye, the President of Nigeria Environmental Society, said that the group was committed to protection, development and sustenance of the environment.