At 40, NCF rolls out the drum, honours conservators
As part of activities to mark its 40th anniversary, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) recently honoured eminent Nigerians and non-Nigerians (both dead and alive) who have made contributions to conservation in Nigeria.
Held at the Metropolitan Club, Kofo Abayomi, Lagos, the NCF celebrated individuals who subscribed to and embraced the idea of the conservation of nature and its resources with the aim of improving the quality of human life in both the present and the future.
Since its inception, NCF has remained committed to preserving the full range of Nigeria’s biodiversity, which includes species, ecosystems, and genetic biodiversity. It has remained resolute in promoting sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of the present and future generations and advocating actions that minimize pollution and wasteful utilisation of renewable resources.
The event, which was attended by crème de la crème in the society, was also used to call on authorities to save the Lekki Conservation Centre, which is being threatened by ocean surges.
Those who were awarded posthumously at the event include Chief Anofi Salawu Guobadia, Chief Shafi Edu, Isa Kaita, Francesca Emmanuel, Ahmed Joda, Ade Alakija, prof. Emmanuel Obot, Romeo Barberopoulos, Hamzat Ahmad and General Mobolaji Johnson. Former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku and General Theophilus Tanjuma were bestowed with the Special Recognition Award.
Speaking on the significance of the anniversary, Chairman National Executive Council, NCF, Ede Dafinone said: “40 years in the life of any organisation is something to celebrate. If you go down history, you will find that there are a lot of organisations that have been international successes that drop off after 20 to 30 years. So, for a group of people to come together and go from strength to strength, 40 years is something to celebrate. We’re also not just celebrating 40 years; we are poised to grow even faster. We will train and recruit a new generation to take over.”
On the challenges facing the centre, he said: “Our regular intervention around the Lekki Conservation Centre has shown that the coastline has moved over the last eight years by 126 metres. In the next three to four years, the coastline will move again by another 40 metres; the water will flow towards the expressway, which will cover many homes constructed along that axis. So, we bring this to the attention of the Lagos State government.
“We know also that it is a Federal Government issue, but the Lagos State government is the first to feel the impact. We hope something will be done quickly.
“Government has not been idle on this issue. If you go to the bar beach axis, towards the chevron axis of the Lekki water shoreline, you will see that the state government has constructed drawings, that is little islands of stones of about 200 meters that have protected the shoreline against erosion. The problem is that where the drawing has stopped, the erosion continues. So, further drawings are required to stop that erosion. The governments are aware of the problem, but maybe not the speed of the erosion that is happening currently.”
On what is being done to build more conservation centres across the country, he said: “We have Nature Center at Finimal Nature Park. Also, we have a new centre in Abuja of about 450 hectares and we continue to talk to different state governments to open up new centres across the country.”
On the plan to sustain the LCC, Director General (DG), NCF, Dr. Joseph Onoja said: “The Estates, people’s livelihoods are being threatened and that is why we are bringing it to the attention of everyone. So, it is not just about the centre, but also about human beings living in that area. The centre is threatened but there are communities before the centre so, it’s important that we intervene before it’s too late, to avoid people being displaced.”
On why little is done by Nigerians to protect endangered species, he said: “When the importance of something is not known, abuse is inevitable. So, by the time we know the importance of these things in our environment, it will help us to be able to be careful about how we handle them. Nature has put the species in place to help us. If we destroy them, we will eventually destroy ourselves, because we will not be able to live a conducive life without these animals. For instance, if the owls are not around, there will be a lot of snakes around us; if there are no vultures, there will be diseases all over the place. So, all of these species are for our own good.
“Our message to Nigerians is that everyone needs to understand that we are not apart from nature, we are part of it. So, whatever we do in our own little way, we should contribute to nature conservation. We should plant trees during our birthdays,” he charged.