By Lovina Anthony
Despite the accolades the President, Mr Bola Tinubu received following the creation of 10 new Ministries, including the Ministry of Gas resources, Marine and Blue economy, an environment expert, Nnimmo Bassey has suggested some threats those two ministries portend to the environment.
Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief last Wednesday when President Tinubu assigned portfolios to the 45 Ministers-designate.
The introduction of Ministries of Marine and Blue Economy, as well as Gas Resources is a novel development in the history of Nigeria and some analysts noted that the Ministries would boost the economic development of Nigeria and create massive employment for the youths.
The World Bank described the Blue Economy as a sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.
Also, former vice president Yemi Osinbajo during the inauguration of the Expanded Committee on Sustainable Blue Economy in Nigeria on January 21, 2021, said the blue economy is a new frontier for economic development and a means of diversifying the economy through the use of resources from oceans, seas, rivers and lakes for the well- being of the people.
But, an environmentalist, Nnimmo Bassey, the Executive Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation in a statement by his Media/Communications Lead, Kome Odhomer said much should be worried than desired in the creation of the Ministries of Gas resources and the Marine and Blue economy.
He added that the Ministries could turn out to become monsters that would end up hunting the Nigerian environment sooner or later.
Bassey explained that creating a Ministry of Gas Resources would only give licence to the continuous gas emissions which are a major cause of climate change and the problems faced by the communities.
He further explained that the concept of Blue Economy, like the Green Economy, was aimed at massive exploitation and commodification of nature with dire consequences, stressing that developing the marine and blue economy sectors will lead to industrial fishing, pollution, habitat destruction, marine biotechnology, deep sea mining and other activities which he said are ecologically harmful.
Nnimmo regretted that the President failed to appoint a Minister of Environment despite the environmental hazards in the country but had to appoint himself as a Minister of petroleum.
According to him, “the 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 the Ministry of Marine Resources.
“However, 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, 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.
“We do not see a bright future for the Nigerian environment, people, and the 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.
“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 prioritising 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!
“It should also be noted that our inland water, coastal and marine environment have been subjected to violent exploitation that has led to the degradation that the environment suffers from; creating this ministry will lead to the intensification of such violent 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 legalise such pollution. Artisanal fishing will be no more as well.”
He advised the government to always consider the potential repercussions when setting priorities for energy policies, noting that finding the right balance between economic interests, environmental health, and social well-being was crucial.
Meanwhile, President Tinubu on Sunday approved the renaming of the Federal Ministry of Environment and Ecological Management as the Federal Ministry of Environment.