Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
STAKEHOLDERS in the Niger Delta have urged the Federal Government to declare state of emergency on the environment of the oil rich region.
This call was made in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, during the 2017 International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament tagged, ‘Sustainability Academy on Re-source Democracy/Conflict’ organised by the Centre for Conflict and Gender Studies, University of Port Harcourt and the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF).
The stakeholders who graced the event stated that human lives and the environment are in danger of extinction if noting urgent was done.
Speaking, the coordinator of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, said, “The violence in the case of the environment misbehaviour is so serious that the Federal Government should declare emergency on the environment of the Niger Delta.
Bassey, who is an environmental activist, also expressed worries over delays in the commencement of the implementation of the United Nation’s Environmental Programme report on Ogoni and other impacted communities in Niger Delta.
He said: “Women are the victims of all source of violence in our environment and in our nation. In the Niger Delta, every pollution affects our women primarily. It affects their reproductive health, source of food and water supply.”
He disclosed that the HYPREP has endorsed the work plan for the commencement of the process and that the plan has also assented to it, but wondered what was causing the delay.
“August is coming and that will be the 6th anniversary of the UNEP report definitely we shall have seen something more on the ground. The process is slow and painful something needs to be done to prove to us that something is really going on.
“Something needs to be done that will proof to us that work is really going on. Personally I expected to see alternative water supply for communities that are condemned to depend on obviously and clearly polluted water.
“Now the governing body of HYPREP has just endorsed the work plan and the board of trustee has also seen the work plan.
Bassey lauded the ongoing disarmament by government, but stated that women would be the appropriate channel through which the process would be achieved.
He said, “The disarmament by the government is very laudable, but what women are doing in Rumuekpe community in Emohua Local Government Area by constituting women prayer group between 2005 and 2010 is what other people should learn from.
“This is because women are in at the grassroots while the government is in their office and the women are the ones impacted. So women talk to the people of their community the message goes down quickly.”
However, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Ndowa Lale called the inclusion of women in process of making policies that affect them and children.
Prof. Lale said: “Government must make a conscious effort and put in place affirmative policies where women must be part of the policies in conflict resolution and management. Men cannot sit all by themselves and make decisions and policies that affect both women and children.
Meanwhile, one of the quest speakers, Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo, former ambassador to Ethiopia, noted women have been an integral part of disarmament, adding that every form of violence affects women.
Toyo said, “Today there are more arms in the country than we have ever seen in the past. You cannot be calling for peace and allowing people to carry arms, you need to put the two together and work towards the enablement of peace.
“ And I think women’s role in seeing their communities broken down, seeing their children die from violent crimes and so on points to the fact that they are the ones suffering from the conflict.”