By Brave Dickson
An expert on toxicology has scored Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and President Muhammadu Buhari zero on toxic management, saying that the state and country are filthy and that Nigerian rulers do not care about their citizens’ health.
The expert who is a lecturer of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Dr Zelinjo Igweze said corruption has engulfed governance in the country to the extent that nobody cares about the life-threatening effects of the toxic environment while citing soots in Rivers State as a case study.
The expert said: “Because corruption has eaten deep into the Nigerian system, a lot of things have gone wrong. We have to start keeping our environment clean. What about the soot in Rivers State? Nobody is talking, the consequence of inhaling it is too bad, but everybody is going about his or her business looking for money. Nobody knows what will happen to the environment and unborn children in years to come.”
Dr Igweze frowned at the influx of radioactive products from overseas into the country under the watch of the federal government without taking the health of the environment and citizens into consideration, adding that the country has weak regulations on toxic waste.
According to her: “Nigerian environment is generally dirty, and the government doesn’t bother. The waste disposal attitude of the state and federal government is zero and regulations here are very poor. Even from the imported foods, we don’t know what is happening. There is a lot of radioactive fall out in Europe; they still manufacture those things and send them to us. We take and complain about a lot of diseases.”
She, therefore, urged both the state and the federal government to be alive to their responsibility of prioritizing the health of the citizens as posterity would judge them based on how they protect the health of the environment and citizens.
“I am advising the governments to take responsibility and care for their citizens. Do everything within their powers to make sure citizens’ health is protected. The governments have the means and powers and can make the right policies. They should think about their citizens, and that is the core essence of leadership. Dr Igweze said.”
Toxic chemicals, especially from carbon monoxides and other sources, are a significant threat to current and future generations. For these reasons, other countries have shifted their chemical practices to a more sustainable model. Global data have indicated a rapid growing pressure on the Nigerian environment as a result of toxic chemicals and wastes.
Weak national legislations, lack of political will and inferior technologies all make some countries like Nigeria vulnerable to toxic hazards. While developed countries strengthen their environmental and health legislation, some developing countries like Nigeria still struggle with problems that are not considered an issue in the developed world any more. An example is lead in paint, which still poses a threat to children in most developing countries. Many still struggle with stockpiles of obsolete and banned pesticides that pollute their soil, water and food, threatening the health of people and wildlife.
Besides already known toxic chemicals, thousands of new ones are introduced to the market every year and are not regulated by existing chemical conventions or by national legislation. Many of these chemicals potentially cause harm to the health of the environment and citizens. According to the World Health Organization, lead exposure alone causes severe mental disabilities in 600,000 children annually. Children across the globe play with toys made of toxic plastics and lead, adding that some countries still depend on pesticides that can harm children’s brains and result in cancer.