ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION IN NIGERIA: ISSUES AND SOLUTIONS
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Nigeria, located in West Africa, has a total land area of 983,213 square kilometres. Presently, its estimated population is over 150 million people (World Bank Population figures) yielding an average density of more than120persons per square kilometres. Industrial activities, in its modern forms, are relatively recent in the history of Nigeria’s economic development. During the pre-colonial period, Nigeria featured considerable craft industry as modern factory activity was then not known. With the advent of the Second World War and its aftermath, the economy of Nigeria changed tremendously and there were demands from Europe for industrial raw materials. With time, due to the low technological base, industrial development took on the assembly-type pattern of import substitution (Wikipedia, 2015). However, political self determination since 1960 did provide the opportunity for improving on its import substitution strategy as well as developing its potentials for real industrial take off through capital goods industry. Prior to the discovery of crude oil in Oloibiri, Rivers State in 1956,agriculture (before 1970) was the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. The oil boom witnessed in the 1970s led to a tremendous increase in industrial activities. With financial resources available from oil and no development policy, unguided urbanization and industrialization took place. As desirable and necessary as this development was, it became an albatross not of itself but because of the lack of appropriate environmental protection policies to guide it. The result was the indiscriminate siting of industries, deforestation and desertification, disregarding the need for environmental concern. The process technology of some of these industries often resulted in unacceptable levels of toxic and dangerous industrial wastes and effluent emissions. These culminated in the degradation of the environment and devastating ecological and human disasters.
As a result of these, the need to combine industrial development and environmental protection arose. Acts of legislation for environmental protection, known as environmental laws, were then enacted. However, the researcher is seeking to provide an highlights on the various issues of environmental pollution and the challenges encountered in establishing an effective environmental enforcement programme and the solutions proffered by the government in tackling these problems (Wikipedia, 2015).
Oil is the primary base of Nigeria’s economy and is also the cause of major environmental and social problems in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Over the years, oil exploration, production, and refinement in Nigeria has resulted in various environmental and ecological problems that range from oil spills, gas flares, habitat destruction, air and water pollution, and land degradation. Also, a major cause of oil pollution in that same region is also to a great extent, from the activities of illegal oil bunkering and illegal refineries operated indigenes and some highly placed individuals in government. The chemical properties of spilled oil often affect the productiveness of soil and pollute water bodies, thereby causing irreparable damage to agricultural lands as well as aquatic bodies.