Environment is one of the key components of human existence on earth; as such the need to create a friendly atmosphere becomes a paramount factor.

    This was some of the issues emphasised at a community dialogue, “Fish, not oil” put together by the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) on Monday at the FishNet Community Dialogue, Makoko, Yaba, to awareness on environmental pollution on some of the riverine areas within the community and other parts of the States in Nigeria.

    The dialogue which had in attendance traditional leaders, members of fishermen in Makoko  community and stakeholders, recommended various means through which government can safeguard coastal environment.

    In one of the remarks by the Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Mr. Nnimmo Bassey, he stated that a large chunk of Nigerians are mainly into the fishing profession and the idea of polluting the riverine or coastal area in Makoko by emitting chemicals, toxic waste products and oil spillage on it has had disastrous effects.

    “Today, up to 6.5 million Nigerians are engaged in fishing. Most of these fisher’s folks live on riverine communities along our 850km coastline – without public utilities, no schools, no health centres. Is that situation different here in Makoko? Was it different at Otodogbame before the bulldozers set in April 2017 and set hopes and dreams on fire? Was it any different in Makoko before the fishers folks were forcibly displaced in July 1990 and exclusive neighbourhoods emerged from swamps?

    “The emission of chemicals and oil spillage in some of the riverine and coastal areas has contributed to the massive decrease in fishing activities within the Makoko communities, something that needs drastic solutions in order to prevent an impending environmental pollution that could pose great danger to human beings in future.

    “Government should also understand that there is need for us to be careful on how we dredge and sand-fill some of the coastal areas all in the name of creating a special housing section without thinking of the danger

    “Today we are examining the state of our environment and the gifts of nature around us. We are looking back at what living and fishing here was like some decades ago. We are also looking at the situation today, noting the changes that have taken place, identifying those factors that brought about the changes. Finally, we will prepare an action plan by which we hope to recover our ecological heritage and preserve same for future generations.

    Spills from companies within the Niger Delta and Lagos appears to have been highlighted as some of the major factor responsible for the death of marine life, and threathening human existance.

    There was also call for government to respect nature considering the fact that the effect of climate change is impacting the country.

    In the words of the general leader of the youth in Makoko community, Oshemede David popularly known as ‘gbogbo boys’, he revealed that government should create an action plan that helps the growth and development of the community.

    “We are in an era where we need to protect our environment from eclipsing due to human activities that has caused great danger to our existence. Fishing which has always being our key profession in Makoko may become a thing of the past due to dredging and sand-filling activities going on most of our water ways.

    “We are appealing to government to look inward by way of stopping dredging and other forms of activities that poses danger to our environment. With this, maybe some of the fishes will return back and we will enjoy what we are known best for in Makoko community.”

    Traditional leaders and members of fishermen in the community also asked government to support  them with equipment such as life jacket, fishing net, exclusive fishing machine and more.

    They also lamented the poor returns they derive in terms of cash from the business due to the high rate of dredging and sand-filling of water within the community, which directly or indirectly drives away fish species.

    There is no doubt that the environment just like human beings must be carefully tampered with in order to avoid causing immense damage. And so, there was a joint call for government to encourage and maintain the ecosystem properly so as to protect the future of the next generations from total extinction.

    By Augustine Akhilomen