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Celebrating OAU Institute of Ecology @ 40

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By Mercy Kelani

Environmental problems in Nigeria should be addressed to stop climate disaster.

According to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Nigeria is ranked as one of the top 10 countries, across the globe, threatened by climate disaster. The report stated that over 2 million people were affected by the flooding that occurred towards the end of 2022. It was also revealed that, by 2040, 69 percent — 5.4 billion — of the world’s population would live in countries challenged by water stress. The first Ecology Threat Report (ETR) of the Institute for Economics and Peace published in 2022 revealed this.

ETR identified priority global threats including food insecurity, floods, cyclones, rising temperatures, water scarcity, droughts, sea level rise and high population growth. The majority of the environmental problems challenging Nigeria also happen in second-world countries across the world. The highest challenges show in desertification, agricultural land degradation, flooding, air, waste, water and industrial pollution, and increasing population growth rate. A 2022 report by the World Bank says that “exposure to a particulate matter pollution in Lagos is responsible for 30,000 premature deaths, half of them children under one year old, and cause up to 350,000 lower acute respiratory diseases”.

IEES, founded in July 1982, first of its kind in West Africa.

Recently, the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Institute of Ecology and Environmental Studies (IEES) in Ile-Ife, Osun State, celebrated its 40th anniversary. Prof. Anthony Imevbore, pioneer director of IEES, conducted a lecture titled “Ecology and the Nigerian Society”, during the commemoration. Prof. Imevbore is also the current Pro-Chancellor and chairman of governing council of Joseph Ayo Babalola University (JABU) in Ikeji-Arakeji, Osun State. He is an expert in ecology and environment and has been in charge of consultancy for different local and international organizations.

The Institute of Ecology and Environmental Studies, OAU Ile-Ife was established in July 1982 majorly for postgraduate studies and research in environmental control and management in Nigeria; it is regarded as the first of its kind in West Africa. The Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Adebayo Bamire, affirmed that the Institute has focused on its goal of training additional manpower, with fervency and commitment, to achieve the purpose for its establishment. This statement is backed by the graduation of about 500 outstanding graduates.

There is a need for provision of research facilities.

This institute runs various programmes and has won the one hundred thousand US dollars Seeding Lab Instrumental Access equipment donation. It is the first Nigerian institute that is responsible for prevention an proffering solutions to environmental challenges through research, public sensitization and training. To ensure sustenance of these achievements, the acting director of IEES OAU Ile-Ife, Dr. Aderonke Okoya, urged major stakeholders to contribute to providing research facilities to improve projects that will proffer solutions to environmental challenges in the country.

An alumni of the institute and the chairman of the international conference, Prof. Joshua Olowoyo, expressed discontent at the insufficient funding of the institute. He advised the government on ways through which they can support the research; one of these ways is through provision of regional laboratories that are perfectly loaded with modern facilities which will foster progress in the field. Although the changes in the 1989 National Policy on Environment compared to the 2021 Climate Change Act shows that Nigeria has improved in its environmental governance, there is more work to be done.

Funding for family planning is necessary for population management.

To improve sustainable development in Nigeria, Prof. Imevbore recommended that poverty eradication, policy integration and improved governance, intensification of reforestation and afforestation, ecological education and behavioral changes are ensured. Also, to achieve a successful population management, he emphasized on three major necessities; they include adequate funding for family planning, effective communication, and political will. He stressed that achieving sustainability has to be a collective responsibility. Everyone is regarded as an ecologist and is expected to contribute their quota towards attaining a balanced ecosystem.

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