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.