Akpokodje Charts Pathways To Sustainable Dev In N'Delta

By Otikor Samuel


Sustainable  development  in  the  Niger  Delta could only be achieved when there is  a paradigm shift f rom  t he  current   s ect oral   and  pi ecemeal f u n d i n g   a p p r o a c h   t o   a   mu l t i - s e c t o r a l ,   we l l coordinated  and  integrated  approach  with  a  clear vision.  The  vision  must  be  laced  with practical development  roadmap  and  planned  within specified timeframe.

This was the position canvassed by Professor Enuvie Akpokodje of the Department of Geology, Faculty of Science, while delivering the 15  V aledictory Lecture of the  University entitled, A  Sustainable Niger Delta:Still Possible Only If… at Ebitimi Banigo Auditorium on  August 24, 2020. The Lecture was streamed online as  part  of  COVID-19  preventive  protocols. “A sustainable Niger Delta is still possible only if the intervention  approach  optimises  short,  medium and long-term  goals  as  integrated  components  of  the overall 'umbrella' strategic plan aimed at addressing socio-economic  and  environmental  challenges  of  the Niger  Delta  in  the  context  of  sustainability  and sustainable  development,”  Professor  Akpokodje  said.
The  15th   Valedictory  Lecturer  stated  that  a  sustainable Niger  Delta  would  be  based  on  a  collaborative strategic  planning,  adding  that  the  implementation would involve strong cooperation among the levels of government ,   bus i nes s ,   communi t i es   and  other relevant  stakeholders. 

Pro f e s s o r  Akpo ko dj e   no t e d  t ha t   t he   i s s ue   o f sustainable  management  of  earth's  finite  natural resources  poses  serious  challenges  to  human  society  in the  21st   century,  pointing  out  that  environmental sustainability  and  human  health  are  under  serious threat  in  the  Niger  Delta  region  due  to  oil  and  gas exploitation. 
He stated  the  need  to  address  the  fundamental  issue  of environmental  degradation  and  how  to  sustain  the livelihood  of people in  the local  areas who constitute over  60%  of  persons  that  rel y  on  the  natural environment for existence. Professor  Akpokodje also empha s i s e d  t he   ne e d  f o r  t he   a ppo i nt me nt   o f compet ent   i ndi vi dual s  t o  manage  i nt ervent i on agencies,   arguing  that  appointments  to  critical 
development  agencies  should  not  be  made based  on political  patronage  and  group  interest.

Akpokodje, who retired  as a Professor  of Engineering and  Environmental  Geology,  served  the  University  for forty-four  years. He joined the University in  1976 as Graduate  Assistant.In his reaction, the  Acting Vice Chancellor , Professor Stephen  Okodudu,  described  the  Lecture  as  a  rich harvest of 44 years of active service. The Acting Vice Chancellor stated the need to incorporate the issue of sustainability into academic curricula to transmit the  knowledge  of  sustainable  development  to  the  next generation.

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