The Nigerian government has emphasized its willingness to safeguard the country from both the swine influenza pandemic and environmental hazards. Regarding the pandemic threat, the government has placed a ban on imported pigs, and has demanded airports and seaports to scrutinize passengers and luggage to ensure that they are void of the virus. Regarding the environment, it has threatened to seize the operational licenses of multinational corporations disregarding the environment.
The swine influenza was first reported in Mexico on April 16 and has been confirmed to claim over hundreds lives, already. The deadly flu infection has the potential of resulting to a world wide pandemic and countries have been advised to take adequate measures to avoid its spread.
Speaking with State House Correspondents in Abuja yesterday, Mr. John Odey, Minister of Environment assured Nigerians that: "Government has dispatched experts to sea ports and airports to ensure that this measures are carried out."
The Director of Livestock and Pest Control, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, Dr. Junaid Maina, announced that the Federal Government has also placed an indefinite ban on the importation of pigs.
"As a delegate of the World Animal Health Organization, I have all information on the disease outbreak from every country in the world for checks and balances. Permits will only be given on condition that you are bringing animals from disease free countries," he added.
The non-compliance of operating oil companies and manufacturing industries in Nigeria over the years has resulted in oil spillage, environmental degradation and general environmental hazards which has affected the health of the Nigerian people.
The environment minister, Mr. Odey has warned that: "If these companies (oil and manufacturing) continue to pollute our environment in the cause of their operations in fragrant disregard to our environmental safety rules and regulations, government will have no option other than to withdraw their license. A situation where oil companies and manufacturing industries fragrantly fail to comply to government laid down environmental safety rules and regulations can no longer be tolerated."
Three national reference environmental laboratories are to be established in the country. The first has already been established in Kano, while the other two would be located in Port Harcourt and Lagos. "These laboratories will closely monitor all the effluent discharges to ensure that they meet the standards required of them.
Government has strengthened the national environmental standards and regulations enforcement agency as part of our renewed commitment to creating a better, safer and cleaner environment," Mr. Odey added.
While the country is taking steps to ensure that the socio-economic advantages of the oil and manufacturing companies do not compromise the health wealth of the country, many Nigerians are worried about the job scarcity and hardship that would follow should the government shut down the companies.