The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) held its annual fundraising dinner dubbed “Green Ball” with the theme “Restoring Mother Nature: New Deal for Nature and People” at the Grand Ball Room, Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

 

Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Director General of NCF in his introductory remark, stated: “The alarming conclusions on the seriousness of climate change and environmental degradation in Nigeria makes it necessary for NCF to redouble its efforts. Recent scientific reports from the United Nations and other international agencies show us that climate change and the decline in nature have reached the point where they threaten human existence. This is more so in Nigeria where awareness of environmental issues is quite low and where these issues rank low in priority in our private and national lives. Hence, the essence of our gathering to deliberate and raise fund to raise the bar in the conservation promotion.”  

 

The President, Board of Trustees, NCF, Izoma Philip Asiodu shared his observation about the state of the environment in Nigeria: “The nation is losing its forest at a fast rate. The savannah is disappearing, mangroves are being cleared, and pollution is everywhere. The report has it that Lagos and other coastal communities may be submerged under water in 2050 if the Federal Government does not take drastic steps.”

 

Present at the dinner were Minister (State) of Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor; Member, National Assembly, Honourable Samuel Onuigbo; DMD of Total E&P Ltd, Engr. Musa Ahmadu-Kida; National Executive Council members of NCF, representative of WWF, Mr. Seif Hamisi among others.

 

Guests were entertained by renowned songstress, Onyeka Onwenu who thrilled the audience with beautiful rendition of some of her evergreen hit tracks such as Iyogogo, Ekwe, and Dancing in the Sun. 

 

The Green Ball was powered by Chevron Nigeria Limited; Total E&P Nig. Ltd; Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG); Sokoto State Government; Federal Ministry of Environment; Keystone Bank Ltd; Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc; Nigerian Breweries Plc; Coca-cola Nigeria; Environmental Accord; Empak Nig Ltd, Shoprite Holding Ltd; OVH Energy Marketing  Plc; Seplat Petroleum Development Company Ltd; Arkleen Petroleum Ltd; Northwest Petroleum & Gas Ltd and other sponsors.

 

The top-notch event held on Saturday, 23rd November 2019 had earlier in the day, the 2-day business forum which brought together stakeholders across Nigeria and internationally rounded up. The Nigerian Business for Nature was a platform where officials and business leaders shared experiences and organisation’s best practices on the environment. Participants included government officials led by Minister of State for Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor, Heads of government’s MDA’s, representatives of corporate organisations, officials of WWF, RSPB and Birdlife International.

 

The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) has called on traditional leaders to use their revered institutions in charting a path for the protection and restoration of the nation’s environment.  NCF made this call at the 18th Chief S.L. Edu Memorial Lecture with the theme “The role of Traditional Leaders in Protecting and Restoring the Nigerian Environment” which took place on Thursday, 16th January 2020 at Bankers House, Victoria Island, Lagos. The Lecture was in collaboration with the family of Chief S.L. Edu and supported by Chevron Nigeria Limited. 

 

The Guest Lecturer, His Eminence, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto said that the human society should take care of the environment with every sense of responsibility as a caregiver because the environment has left its pristine state. He said “Desert encroachment is occurring at 600 meters per annum and the figures are rising daily. This has resulted in land losses and dwindling food production [at a time] when the population is growing” 

The Sultan of Sokoto declared that leaders of traditional societies are the major stakeholders in environmental preservation and their leadership is considered critical and indispensable to the whole system. He reiterated that the failure to manage the environment has led us into the present environmental disaster.

 

The Chairman of the occasion and the President, Board of Trustees, NCF, Izoma Philip Asiodu, in his opening remark, reminded that “At independence, Nigeria had 35% forest cover. Today, we have 4%. 

 

The Special Guest of Honour, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Governor of Lagos State who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat stressed the need to have a paradigm shift in our approach to treating the environment. He said “We must decide, as a people, how we want to live our lives. But, it is the intention of this government to lead the conversation. We must decide to leave a society better than we met it for the good of our children. If not, we have done a total disservice to them.” 

 

The Chief Host, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, the Director General of NCF, in his welcome address explained that NCF sets the tone for the year by organizing the lecture that explores issues of urgent importance and new area that should get attention on conservation in Nigeria.

 

Mr. Esimaje Brikinn, General Manager, Public Government and Policy Affairs, Chevron Nigeria Limited in his speech said the topic for this year’s lecture - was apt as it speaks to traditional leaders as active agents of behavioural change/ sustainable development and advocates of multi-stakeholder partnerships in support of the environment. “This is particularly critical and coming at a time when climate change has become of great concern to our environment and our existence. Chevron Nigeria Limited is glad to be associated with NCF’s enduring vision on nature and environmental protection”, he added, while noting Chevron’s 20-year partnership with NCF which has produced commendable projects geared towards conserving the environment and building Nigeria’s economy.

 

The event was also used to award research grants to two Ph.D. students who were selected out of 53 applicants. They are Elizabeth Shade Fadipe who is a Conservation Biologist from the University of Jos, and Mustapha Sani Bunza, studying conservation and biodiversity in the University of Ibadan. The award was presented by the Guest Lecturer.

 

In attendance were HRM, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the Ooni of Ife, who was represented by HRH, Oba Olalekan Fasesin, the Aladeokin of Oriade-Ife; HRH, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, the Alake of Egbaland; HRH, Oba Saheed Elegushi, the Elegushi of Ikateland; HRH, Oba Shefiu Olatunji Adewale, the Olu of Epe, Alhaji Ajagbemokeferi, the Chief Imam of Oriwu Central Mosque, Ikorodu and other traditional leaders. 

 

Also in attendance were Alhaji Ahmed Joda, member NCF BoT; Mrs. Yetunde Emanuel, member, NCF BoT; Chief Ede Dafinone, Chairman, National Executive Council, NCF; Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi, Chairman LUFASI Park; HRH, Erelu Abiola Dosunmu, Mrs. Olivette Smith who represented the US Consulate General; Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, Vice-Chancellor of Lagos State University, represented by Mr. Abiodun Denloye; NCF council members; representatives of Access Bank Nigeria Plc; Heritage Bank Ltd; Enville Environmental Consultants Ltd; Ecobank of Nigeria Ltd; Ampak Nigeria Ltd; Xtylenspec Ltd; Krestonouc Ltd; Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources; Lekki Estates Residents and Stakeholders Association (LERSA); Imo State Zoological Garden, Imo State; Women in Nature Conservation Organisation; Vulnerable Women Liberation Empowerment Organisation; lecturers and students of tertiary institutions.

 

 

 

 

 

The Minister of State for the Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor, announced that Finima Nature Park will be known globally as a Ramsar Site of International importance.

 

The Minister who was represented by Mr. Sikiru Oladele Tiamiyu, Director of Forestry, Federal Ministry of Environment made this known as Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) in collaboration with Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) commemorated the 2020 World Wetlands Day (WWD) in Bonny Island, River State on Monday, 3rd February, 2020.

 

She said, “I am deeply honoured to inform you that the Honourable Minister of Environment has endorsed the instrument for designation of Finima Nature Park as Ramsar Site of International Importance.”

 

This endorsement will make Finima Nature Park the 12th Ramsar Site in Nigeria and 3rd in the Niger Delta.

 

This year’s theme “Wetlands and Biodiversity”, was used to highlight the need to protect wetlands and biodiversity they inhabit. Estimates show that biodiversity is declining globally, with wetlands disappearing three times faster than forests. Consequently, this year underlines the need to protect wetlands biodiversity and urgently address its loss.

 

In her welcome address, Mrs. Eyono Fatai-Williams, General Manager, External Relations & Sustainable Development, NLNG explains that the company earnestly identifies with the global aspiration to promote a healthy ecosystem where humans and other living things can co-exist with our operations. This sinks into the vision of NCF of ‘where people prosper while living in harmony with nature.’

 

She stated further that Finima Nature Park, 1000 hectares in size was established in 1999 as a good representation of the Niger Delta ecology, for conservation, recreational activities, research and study purposes.

 

She said, “Beyond being home to numerous wildlife species including dwarf crocodiles, troops of the Mona Monkey, African Fish Eagles and African Grey parrots, to mention a few; the Nature Park is part of company’s  contribution to national and global conservation goals in line with Rio Agenda 21, Ramsar Convention, and Convention on Biological Diversity”

 

In his speech, Chief Ede Dafinone, Chairman, NCF National Executive Council, revealed that Nigeria’s wetlands are important to the wellbeing of the people and the environment. They provide critical safeguards from natural disasters including droughts and floods, in addition to providing a home to an array of biodiversity. It provides an opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of wetlands, and how the decline of wetlands and biodiversity can be addressed. Nigeria has numerous wetlands, including the Niger Delta, which is Africa’s largest wetland. These wetlands are important for water supply, agriculture and recreation and other ecosystem services. However, in recent times, these wetlands have come under intense pressure due to human activities. 

 

In his speech, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Director General of NCF, said that NCF is commemorating WWD at many centres by creating awareness among the community people, school pupils and other stakeholders. 

 

He added that the government and the people are not attaching much importance to wetlands again and we are fast losing them to unsustainable developments in the form of housing and infrastructure. This is revealed in the way they sand fill wetlands areas. He said, “Instead of us leaving wetlands to perform its ecological, economic and hydrological functions, we are channelling, canalising and damming all the available wetlands around”. He reiterated that wetlands are not waste lands but wealth lands.

 

Meanwhile, in his speech, Mr. Goke Korede, Manager of Operations, NLNG, stated that Industry records show that our operations have helped reduce the nation’s flare status from 65% when we started operations in 1999 to less than 20% today. This is a huge contribution towards ensuring a healthy environment in the Niger Delta region, the nation and world at large. Today, the Finima Nature Park stands not only as a natural habitat to some of the exceptional flora and fauna that are endemic only to Bonny Island; but also as an ecotourism hotspot with over 23,000 visitors to the park in 2019.

The commemoration continued with a tour of the park being led by the Project Manager of the Park, Mr. Gogo Brown, accompanied by other tour guides to give nature interpretation as they journey along. 

 

A huge whale bone was sighted and other animal species being conserved. The event ended with tree planting exercise within the park. The species planted was Cleistopholis patens, commonly called salt and oil tree. 

 

 

Finima Nature Park (FNP) is a 1000 hectares swamp forest area managed on behalf of NLNG by Nigerian Conservation Foundation in the last one decade. In 2019, NCF profiled the Nature Park towards State and international recognition- as the only Rivers State Natural Conservation Environment and International Wetlands of Education Centre by Wetlands Link International respectively. 

 

Also in attendance were Chief (Mrs.) Cordelia Agboti, NCF Council Member; Dr. Joseph Onoja, NCF Director of Technical Programmes; Mr. Solomon Adefolu, FNP Project Coordinator; Mr. Ogheneochuko Odibo, Special Assistant to the Minister of State; Mrs. Sikeade Egbuwalo, CBD National Focal Point; Professor Sodienye Abere, Brand Ambassador of Finima Nature Park; Mrs. Eucharia Ezeani, General Manager, Human Resources, NLNG; Mr. Gbenga Oluwaniyi, General Manager, Finance; Comrade Jude Ozenua, PENGASSAN Chairman, NLNG Chapter among others.