Environmental activists have urged the Federal Government to urgently declare a state of emergency on the environment to check climate change, environmental degradation, diseases and deaths.They made the call on the sidelines of the World Environment Day, which is marked on June 5 every year.

Speaking to newsmen during a public awareness campaign organised by Cleaner Neighbourhood Initiative (CNI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and civil society groups in Awka, Anambra State yesterday, Gloria Obuekwe, described air pollution as a silent killer.

Obuekwe said the event was organised to boost global awareness and action towards protecting the environment from further degradation, adding that bush burning, smoking vehicles, indiscriminate dumping of refuse and open defecation, were some of the most common sources of air pollution.

She listed the negative effects of air pollution to include lung cancer, asthma, chest pain, heart problem, headache, bad odour, eye irritation, cancer and deaths.She stressed that private and public policy initiators, executors and regulators owe it a duty to develop proactive measures to combat air pollution and other factors responsible for environmental degradation through collaborative efforts to share practical solutions and strategies for successful and efficient implementation.

Besides, the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David Boyd, said about seven million people die prematurely every year from air pollution.Boyd in his message to celebrate the 2019 World Environmental Day (WED) with the theme: Air Pollution, noted that failing to ensure clean air is a violation of rights to life, health and well-being, as well as the right to live in a healthy environment.

“More than six billion people, one-third of who are children, regularly inhale polluted air that puts their life, health and wellbeing at risk. Air pollution is a silent, invisible and prolific killer responsible for the premature deaths of seven million people yearly, disproportionately affecting women, children and poor communities,” he stated.

Also a new global study, State of Global Air 2019 (SOGA2019), affirmed that air pollution is the fifth highest cause of death among all health risks, ranking below smoking, insisting that each year, more people die from air pollution related disease than from accidents or malaria.

Also, Nnimmo Bassey and Alagoa Morris have berated the Niger Delta governors for the neglect of oil community environment by Niger Delta governors.Bassey alleged that governors of the Niger Delta region were not deploying the oil derivation revenue for the benefit of the environment and the people.

Morris, who is Head of Field Operations at Environment Rights Action, said the 2019 WED focusing on air pollution holding in China dwelled on unrestrained gas flaring in the Niger Delta with massive release of greenhouse gases that trigger climate change.

Meanwhile, another environmentalist, Egbemuyiwa Olatunji has said air pollution kills seven million persons globally, insisting that Nigeria was the fourth worst country in terms of managing air pollution globally. Olatunji, who spoke in Abeokuta, Ogun State yesterday, also said 72 per cent of Nigerians are exposed to air pollution daily by cooking with solid fuels.


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