WARRI – The Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action / Friends of the Earth ( ERA / FoEN), Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo has said treating environmental issues as ethnic rather than national issues has been a major barrier in tackling the ernomous environmental problems facing the country.
Dr. Ojo who stated this at an ERA / FoEN organised training for journalists in Warri , stressed the need for journalists to engage in indept reporting of the environment so as to enable stakeholders identify, pursue and exhaustively tackle the mammoth environmental issues affecting the country.
The environmental rights activist said that there are a lot of diverse environmental issues across Nigeria that are under reported.
“We must note the Nigerian environment is in a parlous state. From the north, to the middle belt down to the southern states, there are environmental issues that are not exhaustively treated. Issues that make headlines most times are off key.” He said.
According to him, different regions in the country, have their peculiar environmental challenges.
He identified some of them to include desertification in the northern part of Nigeria, gully erosion in the eastern part of Nigeria, the shrinking Lake Chad, Oil pollution in the Niger Delta, gas flaring, oil spill, flooding , deforestation among others.
“The case of the Niger Delta where oil pollution has left toxic footprints on community lands, rivers, streams and the attendant impacts on livelihoods is well known. The ecocide in Ogoniland which has become the emblem of pollution has not been adequately captured and the reality not exhaustively presented to the Nigerian people. Here in Warri, oil ravages are evident in Jesse, Iwherekan and other communities that suffer oil spills and gas flares.” Ojo noted.
According Dr.Ojo, action must be taken to mitigate the hardship environmental degradation brings especially with the present economic recession in Nigeria.
” ERA/FoEN has proposed a National Basic Income Scheme (NaBIS) for the unemployed to unlock potentials buried away for lack of access to opportunities created by the environmental crisis listed above and mis-governance. Think of what a social security of a monthly stipend would offer to teeming unemployed in this time of recession and oil slump”. He said .
Dr. Tunde Akanni, Journalism lecturer at the Lagos State University, spoke on Investigative Journalism and Exploring the Freedom of Information Act in Investigative Journalism while Veteran Journalist, Osedebamen Isibor, Editor, Nigerian Pilot Newspaper dwelt on Engaging Corporation/Government officials, finding and protecting sources, vulnerable people and potential legal issues as well as Checking facts / Interview methods.
Philip Jakpor, ERA/FoEN Head , Media and Campaign, led the interactive session on the Hanhikivi Nuclear Power plants twists.
The three days training which was funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland was aimed broadening the horizon of journalists on investigative environmental reporting, took place at the Golden Tulip Hotel , Effurun with journalists drawn from both local and national media houses.