COVID-19 caused environmental challenges, unemployment – Kogi commissioner says
The Kogi state Commissioner for Environment, Chief Victor Omofaiye, on Monday, said that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic had led to environmental challenges and unemployment in the country.
Omofaiye disclosed this at a one-day workshop, organised by the Environment Media Correspondents Association of Nigeria (EMCAN), in Abuja.
He said that the pandemic had caused disruptions to many sectors, causing social, environmental crises, including unemployment, business closures, indiscriminate felling of trees, among others.
The commissioner noted that the workshop sas part of the association’s efforts to support government, towards boosting capacities and knowledge especially on addressing environmental issues, related to COVID-19.
According to him, the COVID-19 pandemic influenced significant global crisis and the greatest effects were being experienced by the poor, public and civil servants, including the private sector.
“In Nigeria, the COVlD-19 pandemic is affecting many economic sectors, social environmental crises such as the unemployment, closure of markets and factories, hunger, thereby increasing the poverty level.
“Increase in social violence, civil unrest, climate change, environmental degradation is currently affecting the entire world, without exception.
“It is very pertinent to note that the environment is very patient and absorbs both natural and anthropogenic activities, but never forgives as it gives back severely to the offender.
“Various anthropogenic activities of man have done more harm than good to the environment.
“Activities of man have resulted in numerous environmental problems that are bedevilling the world, especially developing economies.
“Another environmental effect of the COVlD-19 is the indiscriminate tree cutting, within residential areas and on the outskirts of the town for firewood purposes.
“The COVID-19 lockdown resulted in loss of jobs, income and closure of businesses which placed them in difficult financial situations that some are unable to afford gas or kerosene to use as fuel for cooking purposes.
“These activities have led to intense heat, stronger greenhouse effects resulting in climate change.
“It has also reduced the absorption of contaminants, reduced provision of ecosystem service, affected hydrological cycles and caused the depletion of medicinal and culinary trees”, Omofaiye said.
The commissioner urged state governments to ensure effective implementation of polluters- pay-principle on industries, as a measure to mitigate air pollution and boost revenues for states.
He explained that the polluter-pay-principle was a standard mechanism designed to monitor and control the level of air pollution in industries, by surcharging for gaseous pollutants emitted.
As for the media, the commissioner enjoined them to put more effort into enlightening the public on the implementation of laws on tree felling and other environmental issues.
Also speaking, Mr Rufus Agbebe, Director-General of the National Biosafety Agency, said relevant stakeholders should be holistically involved in security, economy, science and technology activities, to drive the new environmental sector.
“This is because the activities of man will continue to tamper with the natural environment, endowment by God.
“Our forests are gradually being depleted due to human needs, through indiscriminate tree cutting. So, the involvement of the stakeholders will curb these and boost control efforts”.
Agbabe disclosed that the Federal Government was making effort to ensure the protection of the people as well as the environment.