Biochemist enjoins Academia to address Environmental Pollution in Nigeria
Members of the academia, both within and beyond Covenant University, have been urged to explore opportunities by advancing proposals and projects that can provide simple solutions to identified environmental pollution issues in Nigeria.
The Guest Speaker, Mr. Gbolahan Asejeje, a biochemist with Chevron Nigeria, Lagos Office, gave this advice during his presentation titled ‘The Biochemist and Environmental Pollution Control’ at a recent Town and Gown Seminar of the Department of Biochemistry, Covenant.
Mr. Asejeje, who pointed out the need for Nigeria to begin to act on the level of pollution in its environment, stated that, The Pure Earth, an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to eliminating life-threatening pollution in the developing world, had listed Nigeria as one of the most polluted countries in the world in its annual list of some of the world's worst polluted places (Top Ten Of The Dirty Thirty – A project of the Blacksmith Institute Sep 2007).
While stating that Biochemistry was concerned with the chemical processes within living organisms, and dealt with the structures, functions and interactions of biological macromolecules at the cellular and sub-cellular levels, the Guest Speaker noted that the knowledge of Biochemistry and Ecology was necessary for a better appreciation of survival and adaptation of life. He explained that Ecology studied the relationship among organisms and their physical surroundings, and interrelationship or pattern of relations of organisms and their environments (soil, water, and air).
“The interaction of organisms and their environment has been broadly defined by biochemical-based techniques and molecular-based techniques; thus, the chemistry of life in environmental study cannot be overemphasized,” he added.
Mr. Asejeje listed the most polluting industries as Lead-Acid Battery Recycling, Industrial Mining and ore processing, lead smelting, tannery operations, artisanal small-scale gold mining, industrial/municipal dumpsites, industrial estates, chemical manufacturing, product manufacturing, and dye industry.
All the listed industries, he said, existed in Nigeria to some degree, albeit illegally, e.g. mining activities in most middle belt and further northern states – the Zamfara State example of lead poisoning in 2010. He added that the meat and dairy industries were poised to surpass the oil industry as the world's worst polluters, according to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and GRAIN.
Earlier in her opening remarks, the Head, Department of Biochemistry, Professor Olubanke Ogunlana, described the Guest Speaker as an erudite scholar with proven competency in his field, and someone worth hearing. She thanked him for presenting a great opportunity for learning to the students by honouring the invitation to speak.
Professor Ogunlana advised the students to pay attention and make sure they put into practice all they were to learn as it would be of great help to them both now and in the future. She also appreciated the University Management for creating the auspicious platform and commended the students, faculty and staff of the department for helping to make the event a success.