By Lanre Oguntoyinbo:
The Federal Government has been called upon to stop treating Nigerians like animals in the parks.
In what looks like what Christian Association of Nigeria CAN should be doing but the charge was given by the Catholic church in the country which stressed that even animals have rights to good life.
Fr. Evaristus Bassey, the Director of Church and Society of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, who conveyed the church message on Friday while briefing newsmen in Calabar to mark the World Tourism Day, decried the deplorable condition of the nation’s roads and the ongoing deforestation of large reserves including water resources, adding that such would endanger economic growth in rural communities.
Fr. Bassey, who doubles as the Executive Secretary of Caritas Nigeria/JDPC, said this year’s World Tourism Day with the theme “Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future,” is aimed at promoting a friendly environment for the well being of especially the poor in our society.
He said: “The holy father, Pope Francis and the bishops of Nigeria enjoin all to inculcate environment friendly approaches in the exploitation and use of natural water resources, forest reserves, green belts, game reserves etc to enhance economic growth for the well- being of all especially the poor in our society today and for future generations.
Water always has a link with sanitation and sanitation has a link to health.“Deforestation is causing many water sources to dry up. Rivulets that were before now protected by a canopy of trees are now exposed to sun that quicken their dryness.
Provision of good drinking sources of water enhances the well being of citizens.“Neglected tropical diseases, many of which emerge from poor water sources are by so doing tackled as well through provision of adequate and accessible supply of potable water.
Some states have good water access per population. Many states still have very poor access especially in the rural areas. We anticipate the occasion tomorrow and call on government at all levels to initiate small water schemes in rural areas.”
Calling on the Federal Government to give special attention to communities that have limited their livelihoods because their forests have been declared national parks, forests or games reserves, Bassey said: “Government should stop treating the people of these areas as if they are part of the animals in the parks, even an animal has rights."
According to him, “since the vegetation contributes to the well-being of the planet, communities in national parks, for instance the three axis of the Cross River national park, should have their infrastructure developed as a matter of urgency.”
He decried the deplorable condition of the roads leading to Ekang and the border community with Cameroun, that passes through the Oban East axis of the Cross River National Park, saying: “It is impassable, and the people have been treated as if they were part of the flora and fauna.”
He, however, commended Governor Liyel Imoke for patching up certain sections of forest roads across the state.