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Ministry of Gas Resources, Marine and Blue Economy: Threats to Nigerian environment

President Tinubu (file photo)

‘Not appointing a minister for environment sends a signal to Nigerians about the concern of the president to a sector that is so fundamental to their survival’

By Kome Odhomor

There are many signs to show that we need to be worried about the president’s new lineup of ministries.

Three of the announced ministries, the Ministry of Gas Resources, and the Ministry of Petroleum and the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy raise special concerns at this time of our history.

 It is shocking to see that the Environment has no minister. Not appointing a minister for environment sends a signal to Nigerians about the concern of the president to a sector that is so fundamental to their survival.

While we have continued to raise concerns about the degraded environment, creating a Ministry of Gas Resources would only give license to the continuous gas emissions which are a major cause of climate change and attendant problems faced by our communities.

By placing a special focus and promoting the gas industry, the Ministry of Gas will inexorably discourage the development of cleaner and more sustainable energy alternatives.

 This will further create a long-term dependency on fossil fuels, at a time when all efforts should be made to “depetrolize” our economy.

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The Executive Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nnimmo Bassey, states: “We do not see a bright future for the Nigerian environment, people, and economy with the President as minister of the twin petroleum ministries, and with the creation of a Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.

“The three ministries will pose unique problems for our aquatic ecosystems and will inevitably worsen the plight of communities whose interests are once more set to be sacrificed.”

Bassey added that title, “Marine and Blue Economy,” is tautological as the Blue Economy is practicable only in marine or aquatic ecosystems.

“The government may wish to rename the unit as Ministry of Marine Resources. The concept of Blue Economy, like the Green Economy, is aimed at massive exploitation and commodification of Nature with deleterious consequences.

Developing the marine and blue economy sectors will lead to industrial fishing, pollution, habitat destruction, marine biotechnology, deep sea mining and other activities that are ecologically harmful.

“With a hugely unpoliced continental shelf this focus will pose special threats to our communities and others in the entire Gulf of Guinea.”

HOMEF believes that by prioritizing gas, other renewable energy sources will be neglected. This lack of diversification will hinder a country’s ability to adapt to future energy demands.

 It portends continuous disruption of our ecosystems with attendant health and safety risks. At a time when health and environmental audits should be conducted in the oil field communities, the government is poised to ramp up the horrors.

This is unacceptable.

After taking so long to put together the cabinet, the announced set up raises many questions. While these may be addressed at the swearing in ceremony, it is hoped that the government will explain the erasure of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to Nigerians, and what appointing a coordinating minister for the Ministry of Health means.

It should also be noted that our inland water, coastal and marine environment has been subjected to violent exploitation that has led to the degradation that the environment suffer from; creating this ministry will lead to the intensification of such violet exploitation.

 Most adjacent communities and coastal communities where exploitation is taking place, there’s no portable water there as a result of pollution.

This ministry will legalize such pollution. Artisanal fishing will be no more as well.

HOMEF believes that it is important to carefully consider the potential repercussions when setting priorities for energy policies, as finding the right balance between economic interests, environmental health, and social well-being is crucial.

We all have a role in saving the environment.

Kome Odhomor is Media /Communications Lead, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Benin City, Edo State.

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