The Environment & Bioresources thematic group of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund’s Research and Development Standing Committee, RDSC, has described Nigeria’s environmental challenges as multifaceted, saying that tackling these challenges requires a multifaceted approach.
The Lead Presenter of the group, Prof. Ibrahim Abdulrazak stated this while making a virtual presentation of his paper on the theme: ‘Institutionalisation of Research and Development in Nigeria’s Environment and Bioresources Development.
Mr Abdulrazak, who is an Associate Professor at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, said the Nigerian environment is bedevilled with challenges such as land, air and water pollution; erosion and land degradation.
He said: “Some of these challenges arise from the rapid overpopulation. Look at Lagos for example, even take Abuja which is starting to boom, even Kano, Ibadan.
“The more people you have, the more resources, the more space they need and the more they generate waste. This waste includes land, air, water pollution, it includes erosion, land degradation.
“In the Sahara, Sahel region, desert encroachment occurs. And if you go down south where oil is being explored, there are oil spills, black soot in many cities like Port Harcourt.
“If you come down to the middle belt, the impact of flooding is extremely high. All these things have an impact on health, on education because children can’t go to school because there are no access roads due to floods.
“Mining in Zamfara a few years ago, there were stories of poisoning. That is a very serious environmental degradation, a negative consequence mining has on children on their mental health and metabolism in general. Even now, some of the security challenges faced in the region are not entirely unconnected to mining.”
Speaking further, Mr Abdulrazak emphasised the need to constantly conduct researches in order to find sustainable ways of solving these challenges.
He said: “As our population grows, the size of our land does not increase, so you have to find a way to manage the resources you have within the space you live in without causing too much damage to the environment because if you allow the damage to happen, the environment can destroy you and your bioresources.
“That is why you constantly have to conduct research, be innovative to ensure you find sustainable ways of solving problems and these are daily problems that are related to everything from transportation, education, infrastructure, farming, health and every aspect because the consumable materials, the plastics, the drugs you produce eventually impact on the environment.”
While speaking on the need for a paradigm shift, the lead presenter, therefore, called for the institutionalization of Research and Development in the country, lamenting that “there is that absence of a Research and Development ecosystem” in the country.
“We recommend the establishment of the National Research Foundation. This center should confront the challenges of climate change in the society, vulnerabilities and disruptions within our food system so that it will be formulating Research and Development products using the multi-stakeholder approach through science and innovation so that as you generate technology you adopt them, refine them and commercialize them based on the knowledge that is well informed towards improving livelihoods and making Nigeria’s economy more viable, more competitive in a sustainable manner,” Mr Abdulrazak added.