As the collapse in oil prices has forced a commensurate decline in Federal allocations, States in Nigeria have started looking beyond oil by diversifying their economies to focus on agriculture and other non-oil exports.
Towards this end, the Akwa Ibom State government has underscored the importance of research centres living up to their expectations in churning out new ideas and innovations to meet up with the changing time. And in line with the vision of the Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel’s policy of developing the agricultural sector for food sufficiency, the Ministry of Agriculture, has solicited for collaboration with research centres.
Speaking at the maiden seminar organized by the Centre for Wetlands and Waste Management Studies (CWWMS), University of Uyo (UNIUYO), Akwa Ibom State on Tuesday, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Mathew Nathan Ekaette, tasked research centres to come up with innovations to improve the agric sector. Represented by the Director in-charge of Fisheries, Mr. Uwe Bassey, the Commissioner said government would spare no effort in collaborating with CWWMS and other research institutes on ideas to develop the sector.
The Director of the Centre, Prof. Gabriel Umoh, explained that the seminar tagged: “Critical Pathways to Sustainable Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) in Nigerian Wetlands Communities”, became imperative because of the critical nature of water to human development.
He explained that the mission of the centre “is to promote the protection, conservation and sustainability of wetlands, their resources and biodiversity through research, information exchange and allied activities”.
Umoh, a professor of Agricultural and Development Economics, therefore, extended his hands of fellowship to the government, organizations and agencies to partner the centre with a view delving into critical areas of research to enhance societal and human capacity development. The Resource person, Dr. Emmanuel Akpabio, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Geography and Natural Resources, UNIUYO, underscored the importance of water in the development of any country. “Water is the anchor point of development of every country. Any country short of water is prone to underdevelopment…”, he stressed and tasked government on efficient water engineering and management especially in wetlands communities.
He lamented that wetland communities are prone to toxic waste dumps and other unhygienic social behaviours of pose serious risk factors on the riverine dwellers and advocated for proper regulatory framework to curb the trend. “Government should be actively involved in water management”, he charged and advised the wetland dwellers to also imbibe efficient sanitation culture to avoid epidemic of water borne diseases. Drawn from the Federal and State Ministries of Environment; Akwa Ibom Rural Water and Sanitation Agency (AKRWASAN) and others also made cases for a holistic action plan to create efficient network of water resources for the wetland communities.