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ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION IN NIGERIA: ISSUES AND SOLUTIONS

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ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION IN NIGERIA: ISSUES AND SOLUTIONS

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ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION IN NIGERIA: ISSUES AND SOLUTIONS

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1   BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Nigeria, located in West Africa, has a total land area of 983,213 squarekilometres. Presently, its estimated population is over 150 million people(World Bank Population figures) yielding an average density of more than120persons per square kilometres.Industrial activities, in its modern forms, are relatively recent in the historyof Nigeria’s economic development. During the pre-colonial period,Nigeria featured considerable craft industry as modern factory activity wasthen not known.With the advent of the Second World War and its aftermath, the economyof Nigeria changed tremendously and there were demands from Europe forindustrial raw materials. With time, due to the low technological base,industrial development took on the assembly-type pattern of importsubstitution (Wikipedia, 2015). However, political self determination since 1960 did providethe opportunity for improving on its import substitution strategy as well asdeveloping its potentials for real industrial take off through capital goodsindustry.Prior to the discovery of crude oil in Oloibiri, Rivers State in 1956,agriculture (before 1970) was the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. Theoil boom witnessed in the 1970s led to a tremendous increase in industrialactivities. With financial resources available from oil and no developmentpolicy, unguided urbanization and industrialization took place. As desirableand necessary as this development was, it became an albatross not of itself but because of the lack of appropriate environmental protection policies toguide it.The result was the indiscriminate siting of industries, deforestation anddesertification, disregarding the need for environmental concern. Theprocess technology of some of these industries often resulted inunacceptable levels of toxic and dangerous industrial wastes and effluentemissions. These culminated in the degradation of the environment anddevastating ecological and human disasters.As a result of these, the need to combine industrial development andenvironmental protection arose. Acts of legislation for environmentalprotection, known as environmental laws, were then enacted.However, the researcher is seeking to provide an highlights on the various issues of environmental pollution and the challenges encountered in establishing aneffective environmental enforcement programme and the solutionsproffered by the government in tackling these problems (Wikipedia, 2015).

Oil is the primary base of Nigeria’s economy and is also the cause of major environmental and social problems in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.Over the years, oil exploration, production, and refinement in Nigeria hasresulted in various environmental and ecological problems that range fromoil spills, gas flares, habitat destruction, air and water pollution, and landdegradation. Also, a major cause of oil pollution in that same region is alsoto a great extent, from the activities of illegal oil bunkering and illegalrefineries operated indigenes and some highly placed individuals ingovernment. The chemical properties of spilled oil often affect theproductiveness of soil and pollute water bodies, thereby causing irreparabledamage to agricultural lands as well as aquatic bodies. Gas flaring is asignificant environmental and economic problem in and Nigeria emitsapproximately 70 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually (US EIA1999). This adversely affects the socio-economic actives of localcommunities, which is primarily based on fishing and farming (Egunjobi1993). It is estimated that in one region alone in the Niger Delta, flaring isstatistically likely to cause 49 premature deaths, 5000 respiratory illnessesamong children and some 120,000 asthma attacks and 8 additional causesof cancer each year (Environmental Rights Action and the Climate JusticeProgramme).

Another major environmental issue ravaging Nigeria is water pollution. According to Anukam (1997), the main source of water pollution inNigeria has to do with forestry activities. Deforestation and improper soiltillage practices increase the concentration of soil particles that make theirway into water bodies and in turn increases their sediment loads.. Thedischarge of industrial waste materials into bodies of water is another majorsource of pollution in Nigeria. Discharges from industries such aspetroleum, mining, iron and steel, pharmaceuticals, and textiles amongothers have increased the contents of sulfates and nitrates in water bodiesand has altered properties such as color and odor (Adelegan 2004). Thesemetals and other chemical substance increase the toxicity of water bodiesas well as soils. A large percentage of Nigerians derive most of theirdomestic and drinking water from ponds, stream, and shallow wells.Hence, water pollution is a major health concern that places the health of about 40 million people at risk of diseases such as cholera, dysentery,diarrhea, and typhoid (Anukam 1997, Adelegan 2004, Orubu 2006).

Domestic and industrial waste has also constituted a major source of environmental pollution in Nigeria. The improper disposal and ineffective management of municipal solidwaste and industrial waste creates major environmental and aesthetic problems in most of Nigeria’s urban areas. Due to overpopulation and thecreation of slums, most municipal areas currently generate more waste thanthey can manage (Ogbonna and Ekweozor, 2002). This has led to theaccumulation of waste heaps in “several areas, blocking motorways andmaking passage along alleys and pavements difficult” (Ajayi andIkporokpo 2005). The most common method of waste disposalin Nigeria iswaste transfer from one region to another andincineration. The firstinvolves the transfer of waste from a regionthat is considered to have ahigher aesthetic value to one that has a lower one. The waste incinerationmethod of waste disposal often results in air pollution due to the release of gases such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen,halogenated carbons, and other particulate matter.

There is need for government to enact and implement necessary environmental laws to control the issues of environmental pollution and this can be done by putting necessary environmental pollution enforcement structures in place to curb the spate of environmental pollution in Nigeria.

1.2   STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Irrespective of the numerous environmental laws enacted to protect theenvironment, environmental degradation has continued unabated. Oilspillage and gas flaring activities are still commonplace in Nigeria,especially in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Gas flaring has also continuedunabated irrespective of the Nigerian government’s directiveto end flaringby 2010 (Kalu, 2009). The Idoho oil spill incidence of 1997 spilled 40,000 barrels of crude oil intothe environment. It travelled all the way from AkwaIbom state to Lagosstate dispersing oil through the coastal states, up to the Lagos coast.According to the Department of Petroleum Resources, between 1997 and2001, Nigeria recorded a total number of 2,097 oil spill incidentsamounting to 1,947,600 barrels of crude oil. Thousands of barrels of oilhave been split into the environment through our oil pipelines and tanks inthe country.Enforcement of environmental regulations is still poor as industriescontinue to discharge untreated waste water into the environment. Heapsof refuse are always a constant sight to behold in Nigerian streets andmarkets.

Most recently, in December 2011, the SPDC’s Bonga offshoreplatform spilled about 40, 000 barrels of crude oil into Nigerian waters. OnJanuary 16 2012, a gas explosion occurred at the Finuwa oil field owned byChevron Nigeria Limited. The Nigerian government was shockingly silentabout these two incidents. This study however wants to identify the problems of environmental pollution and proffer solution to the issue.

1.3   OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The following are the objectives of this study:

  1. To identify the issues of environmental pollution in Nigeria.
  2. To analyze the impact of environmental pollution in Nigeria.
  3. To determine the solutions to the challenges of environmental pollution in Nigeria.

1.4   RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  1. What are the issues of environmental pollution in Nigeria?
  2. What is the impact of environmental pollution in Nigeria?
  3. What are the solutions to the challenges of environmental pollution in Nigeria?
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