Nigeria Needs Stringent Laws To Reduce Air Pollution, Says NCF DG

Vendors cover their nose as they walk through smoke emanating from the Olusosun dump site in Lagos, Nigeria (AFP)


Nigeria needs stringent anti-pollution laws to curb the release of dangerous air pollutants into the country’s breathing space, the Director General, National Conservation Foundation (NCF), Dr. Muhtari Aminu Kano has said.

The environmentalist worries that as human activities against the environment pique, Nigeria is at the risk of recording more deaths caused by air pollution if nothing is done to halt the release of the killer gases.

Kano who spoke at a programme organized by NCF to commemorate this year’s World Environment Day, themed: ‘Beat Air Pollution’, said more than 10% of the total deaths in the world have their root cause in air pollution.

He asked governments at all levels to take punitive measures to cut down on the dangerous emissions, which had continued to add to the challenge of climate change in and around the country.

“We can use efficient transport by enforcing a law that will ban vehicles that emit too much carbon monoxide. Such vehicles should not be on the road, thereby people will be forced to consider other options.

“You can create friendly way that people can move, by making it easier for people to ride bicycles in cities like Lagos. You can also make industries to pollute less by coming up with laws to curb air pollution,” Kano said.

Enumerating some causative factors of air pollution in Nigeria, Kano stated that more polluted air are being released in the country due to the lack of a proper recourse to safe agricultural practices, deforestation, fumes from vehicles; the heavy reliance on firewood and charcoal for cooking among Nigerian locals, as well as the worrisome power situation in the country that has made generator an household item among citizens.

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While bemoaning the frequent deaths caused by fumes emitted by the ubiquitous generators, he called on the government to fix the power problem in the country so as to stop Nigerians from seeking alternative solution in the fossil-powered generators, thereby cause more damages to humans and the environment.

Last Monday, no fewer than 10 wedding guests in an Imo community died in their sleep due to an inhaled fumes coming from a generator placed inside a building where they had slept. Also, 30 of the victims were reported to have been placed on life -support machines after becoming unconscious due to the fumes inhaled from the generator. “There wouldn’t have been any need for them to put on a generator if there’s stable power in the country. Our thought and prayers are with these victims of air pollution,” Kano said at the event while reacting to the tragic incident.

Similarly, while harping on the need to breath cleaner air, a representative of First City Monument Bank at the event, Mr Deji Olojo, said: “the Human Expsoure Model (HEM) chart reveals that the air we breathe in Nigeria is the deadliest in Africa and the fourth deadliest in the world with 150 deaths per every 1000 people. That’s not surprising considering our population size, the number of generating sets in the country and the number of vehicles we have on our roads, all emitting thick black smoke.”

He noted that according to the United Nations, 92% of the global population do not breathe in clean air, stating that the global economy loses $5 trillion yearly to problems stemming from air pollution.

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Olojo who lauded NCF for promoting actions and interventions targeted at producing more breathable clean air through the planting of tree and delivering on other environmental conservation initiatives said “it was no surprise that the cleanest air in Lagos is at the Lekki conservation centre.”

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'Dotun Akintomide's journalism works intersect business, environment, politics and developmental issues. Among a number of local and international publications, his work has appeared in the New York Times. He's a winner of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Award. Currently, the Online Editor at The New Diplomat, Akintomide has produced reports that uniquely spoke to Nigeria's experience on Climate Change issues. When Akintomide is not writing, volunteering or working on a media project, you can find him seeing beautiful sites like the sandy beaches that bedecked the Lagos coastline.


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