Nigeria Pollution: Jonathan Blasts Oil Firms
Pollution: Jonathan Blasts Oil Firms *
Says New National Environmental Policy Underway
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday in Abuja, took a swipe at the oil corporations operating in Nigeria, claiming that their operations have adverse effects on the country's environment and food production, reports AkanimoReports.
Jonathan who was speaking while declaring open a national conference on the politics of hunger organised by Environmental Rights Action (ERA), an environmental justice organisation, said, ''i will be the first to agree that environmental pollution, including those from the oil sector has grossly impacted our capacity to produce the foods that we need''
AkanimoReports says the president who was represented by his Special Assistant on International
Relations, Ken Saro-Wiwa jnr, added, ''while oil produces national wealth, it has paradoxically also caused human misery among our people. Government is determined to ensure a clean national environment from Calabar to Lagos, from Sokoto to Maiduguri and indeed everywhere in this land''.
President Jonathan said he firmly believes that the environment is the life of the people, pointing out, ''government will unfold a clear environmental agenda that will ensure that Nigerians have a safe and satisfactory environment in which to live in a healthy and productive manner''.
Continuing, he said the change the country desires will not be top down, but bottom up. ''The foundation must be solid for a house to stand. I am a grassroots person and i have confidence that working with civil society groups, including small-scale farmers, producers and consumers is not an option but an imperative.
According to him, ''it is important that hunger is understood as being not only the absence of food critically the lack the lack of access to food. This is the crux of the politics of hunger . Hunger has been used as a tool for political manipulations and the time has come for this to be rejected. Today there are one
billion people who go to bed hungry in the world. About the same number are known to be obese. Hunger and obesity, especially the type that emanates from malnutrition, are ills that must be fought. Government pledges not to relent in this''.
The president said the hunger isue ''must be examined without recourse to manipulation of facts. It is an issue that we have to confront without ignoring local knowledge and nastional memory....Discussions flowing from this conference
will help government regenerate a once viable sector and help come up with a roadmap that will ensure that this great country of ours can meet the food needs
of its population and ensure food sovereignty instead of depending on corporations and foreign countries who will place heavy burden on our people and greatly impact the environment and livelihoods''.
In his welcome address, the Executive Director of ERA, Nnimmo Bassey, said hunger has become a [political tool for manipulation of citizens, with devastating impacts on the poor.
''We note that African countries have really been open to manipulation by international financial institutions as well as aid and development agencies. Such bodies draft policy directions and foist them on African countries including Nigeria. We are forever domesticating policies that are of dubious benefit to our agriculture or poverty combarting needs'', he said.
According to Bassey, the idea of fighting hunger has become big business, pointing out that food aid, with the connotation of philanthropy, has become nothing short of big business and a tool for crass manipulation and intimidation of those who are adjudged to be hungry.