The Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), a non-governmental organization, has raised concerns regarding the establishment of new ministries, namely the Ministries of Gas Resources and Marine and Blue Economy. HOMEF believes that President Bola Tinubu’s decision in this regard could pose a significant environmental threat to oil field communities.
In a statement released in Port Harcourt on Sunday, HOMEF expressed the hope that President Tinubu would provide an explanation to the Nigerian populace regarding the scrapping of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
The absence of a Minister for the Ministry of Environment was also a cause for concern for HOMEF, as it sends a troubling message about the President’s commitment to a sector crucial for the well-being of the nation.
According to Reverend Nnimmo Bassey, the executive director of HOMEF, the creation of the Ministry of Gas Resources could potentially exacerbate issues related to continuous gas emissions, a major contributor to climate change and the associated challenges faced by communities.
HOMEF further argued that focusing on the gas industry, as promoted by the Ministry of Gas Resources, could deter the development of cleaner and more sustainable energy alternatives. This could result in a prolonged dependency on fossil fuels, contrary to the current global trend towards reducing such dependencies.
Expressing skepticism about the future of Nigeria’s environment, people, and economy under the leadership of the President as the head of twin petroleum ministries, and with the addition of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, HOMEF highlighted the unique problems these ministries could pose to aquatic ecosystems and the communities reliant on them.
Furthermore, HOMEF criticized the terminology “Marine and Blue Economy” as tautological, suggesting that it should be renamed as the Ministry of Marine Resources. They argued that the Blue Economy concept, like the Green Economy, could lead to the extensive exploitation and commodification of nature, resulting in detrimental consequences.
HOMEF cautioned that the development of marine and blue economy sectors could lead to industrial fishing, pollution, habitat destruction, marine biotechnology, deep-sea mining, and other ecologically harmful activities. They expressed concern about the lack of regulation in Nigeria’s continental shelf and the potential threats this focus could pose to coastal communities and the Gulf of Guinea as a whole.
The organization stressed the importance of diversifying energy sources beyond gas and expressed concerns that this lack of diversification could hinder the country’s ability to adapt to future energy demands, continuing to disrupt ecosystems and endangering public health and safety.
In conclusion, HOMEF found the government’s priorities and policy decisions in these areas unacceptable and called for a careful consideration of potential repercussions, emphasizing the need to strike a balance between economic interests, environmental health, and social well-being when setting energy policies.