AN ADDRESS BY PROFESSOR CHIGOZIE C. ASIABAKA, ksm, jp,
VICE-CHANCELLOR, FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, OWERRI AT THE 201 3 WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY CELEBRATION IN THE UNIVERSITY ON THURSDAY, JUNE 27, 2013
I am delighted to welcome you all to this special event, the 2013 World Environment Day, holding in our University today under the auspices of our Centre for Women, Gender and Development Studies (CWG&DS).
Particularly, I welcome to our campus and acknowledge with profound gratitude the presence of our special guests at today's occasion. These include Barrister Emma Ekweremba, Honourable Commissioner for Petroleum and Environment, Imo State, Professor A. I. Ihekoronye, the Keynote Lecturer, a distinguished academic, an erudite scholar, a colleague and friend of inestimable value and Professor Emeritus of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Mr. A. Ebisike, the Registrar, Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria, Abuja.
I recognize also the dignified presence of my Principal Officers, Deans, Directors, Heads of Departments/Units, Coordinators, Executives of Trade Unions on Campus, the President and Executive of Students Union Government, staff and students of our great University. Your unpretentious support, willing and sustained company have been immeasurable sources of inspiration and encouragement to me in my capacity as Chief Host of these unique events. I salute you all.
I thank, commend and congratulate the Director, Centre for Women, Gender and Development Studies, Dr Mrs Ihuoma P. Asiabaka and President, FUTO Women Association and her dedicated and resourceful team for mobilizing the University community to be part of this year's World Environment Day Celebration which commenced in earnest yesterday with sanitation exercise, clearing of the filth and the planting of flowers and ornamental trees within and around the University environment. Your faithful contributions towards the realization of our Quest for Excellence are enormous and most commendable. I urge you to keep up the good work.
Today's event is part of a global annual celebration instituted by the United Nations in 1 972. World Environment Day (WED) was promulgated as a special day to draw deserved attention to and create awareness on the environment which has much to do with the existence and survival of mankind on this planet earth. It is an indisputable fact that man's activities one way or the other affect the environment. The land we till for agriculture, the waste we dispose, the canals we build for irrigation, the drains we construct, the vehicles we drive on the roads, the industries and factories we establish, the petroleum products we exploit, the trees we fell, the animals we rear, the houses we build either for accommodation or for business, the boreholes we drill, the generators that provide us with power, and other innumerable activities of man impact positively or negatively on our cherished environment.
Indeed, the environment affects and influences all aspects of human life, physically, biologically, socially, mentally, spiritually and financially. Changes in the environment have far reaching implications and consequences on mankind, some beneficially and others detrimentally. This is why climate change which is now a global phenomenon is attracting much interest and huge investment from responsible governments across the globe to mitigate and address their unpleasant consequences.
The general impact and adverse effect of climate change on the environment, health, productivity and overall wellbeing of the world population are becoming grievous and unbearable. The problem leads amongst others to staple food shortages, economic decline, displacement and dislocation of human population, large scale migration, health hazards, loss of material resources and above all massive loss of precious lives.
Such vicissitudes of life could result from incidence of flood, draught, desert encroachment, earthquakes, landslides, and other disastrous climatic conditions that could be unleashed on humanity at little or no notice at all. This stark reality has made the theme of the 201 3 World Environment Day Celebration: Think-Eat-Save both apt and germane in our contemporary times. I have no doubt that our Guest Speaker has all it takes to dissect, drill and thrill us on this rather uncommon and unusual theme. Our guest I am sure has enough to dish out to this distinguished audience that at the end we will have more than enough to think about, eat and be able to save, especially for the uncertain rainy days. The lecture promises to advance good tips and create the necessary awareness on the vulnerability of the environment and how to mitigate some natural disasters arising from some environmental or climate change.
Emerging national and global reports precariously indicate that no nation, including ours, is immune or exempted from the devastating effects of changes in environmental conditions. Therefore, as a developing country, our best bet is to increase public awareness and knowledge on how to reduce possible circumstances that can pre-dispose our citizens to severe and disastrous environmental conditions. This is more so against the fact that our mechanism for disaster control/reduction and emergency preparedness appear, to all and intents and purposes, rudimentary in this part of the world.
Ours is a technological University with a school wholly dedicated to studies on environmental issues. It is therefore our due responsibility and mandate to create the needed fora and avenue such as this where important ideas and information could be generated on how best to handle issues that directly or indirectly affect our environment. In practical demonstration of our strategic role as champions on environmental matters, my administration considered it an aberration for the University to continue to operate in an unfriendly, hostile and life threatening environment surrounded by overgrown bushes that habour dangerous animals and reptiles.
This informed the decision of our administration to accord some priority to the creation of healthy environment through deliberate effort in the clearance of overgrown bushes, grassing of the lawns and pathways, opening up of the blocked drains, massive landscaping work on campus, repainting of buildings, planting and regular maintenance of flowers and ornamental trees, installation and improvement of lighting facilities throughout the University campus. All these measures, I am pleased to observe, are impacting wonderfully on our corporate drive for excellence in the University.
On this optimistic note, ladies and gentlemen, it is my honour and privilege to formally declare the 201 3 World Environment Day Celebration in our University open. Thank you and God bless us all.