Dr Joseph Onoja, the Director of Technical Programmes, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) says lack of environmental policy enforcement has incapacitated Nigeria’s delivering of clean air.
Onoja said this in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
“Lack of enforcement and lots of violations, which are recorded yearly has incapacitated the regulations designed to ensure clean air,’’ he said.
The NCF boss said that there was a connection between air pollution and Respiratory Tract Infections (RTI) being witnessed across the globe.
“Air pollution goes beyond just the respiratory tract infections but affects other organs like the heart, causing blockage of the arteries and the brain and sometimes causing stroke,’’ Onoja said.
He said that air pollution had been estimated to kill over seven million people each year through complications from RTI, because the respiratory tract “is the channel by which oxygen passes into the bodies’’.
Onoja listed the major causes of air pollution in Nigeria by humans, saying “some of the causes include gases from cars and heavy-duty trucks exhaust, indiscriminate burning of garbage and burning of fossil fuel – mostly crude oil.’’
He called for enlightenment by stakeholders to reduce the rate of RTI caused by charcoal-induced cooking by women and children in the country.
“There are various government and private interventions on clean cooking stoves in the country, however, there are many dimensions to this as sometimes people are reluctant to embrace these methods.
“There is need to rethink and re-strategise on whatever clean stove initiative that has been done before so that not only will it be made available but the affected people will readily accept it.
“NCF is willing to work with the relevant authorities to ensure the enforcement of all environmental policies in Nigeria,” he said.
The NCF director advised leaders to have the requisite political will to transit Nigeria from fossil fuel economy to clean energy economy.
“We need the political will to do so because there have been regulations dating way back in time.
“But we continue to shift the goal post with its attendant effect on the environment and human health.
“Although, it will involve huge investments for immediate facilities to stop gas flaring even though it has greater economic, environmental and health benefits in the long run,” he said.
Onoja advised the private sector and individuals to key into the green/clean energy innovation to make it readily available and affordable for the people.
“This is fertile ground; it is an opportunity for corporate entities to invest their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds in.
“It cuts across the thematic areas of health, environment, human development and socio-economic well-being of the vulnerable population,” he said.