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CENTRE CALLS FOR INCREASED POLICY ORIENTED ANALYSES ON ENVIRONMENT AND CONFLICT IN THE NIGER DELTA—HEALTH OF MOTHER EARTH FOUNDATION, RIGHT LIVELIHOOD CAMPUS AND CCGS UNIPORT.

The Centre for Conflict and Gender Studies (CCGS) at the University of Port Harcourt has called for increased policy-oriented analyses of environment and conflict in the Niger Delta as a way of tackling social, economic, and political issues that easily lead to violence. This call was made during the Screening of No Where To Run To, The Climate and Environmental Crisis in Nigeria, on 18 September 2016. The programme was organized by the centre in collaboration with the Health of Mother Earth Foundation Benin City in furtherance of an existing partnership and activities of the Right Livelihood Campus at University of Port Harcourt. Environmental problems have become key in both academic and policy conversations around conflict today. The traditional approach, which focuses on security of states and less on environment and wellbeing of citizens among scholars in the field does not reach down to the real issues of daily life and struggles with survival. With ever increasing concerns about environment and livelihoods and the conditions that easily trigger tension, in countries endowed with natural resources such as those in Africa, the traditional approach has proved to be inadequate for explaining violent conflict. In the case of Nigeria, environmental problems resulting from activities of companies, community people, government and individuals have fed into the analysis of environment and conflict in the Niger Delta. The film was produced by Yar’Adua Foundation Abuja. Speaking during screening attended, by Master of Science and Post Graduate Diploma students in Peace and Conflict, the director of CCGS, Dr Fidelis Allen applauded the opportunity for students to interact with Right Livelihood Foundation Award recipient, Nimmo Bassey.

The RLC at University of Port Harcourt is now in its third year since signing a memorandum of understanding with the University of Port Harcourt. He charged governmental institutions not to neglect policy matters in confronting environmental problems. Oil related environmental problems are known triggers of grievances and conflict in the Niger Delta. “ Environmental problems are at the heart many conflicts in Nigeria today. This is why universities, and centres like ours ought do more in terms of preparing students for policy relevant analysis of conflict issues. I use this medium to call on relevant government agencies to be more policy-analysis driven in their approach to tackling conflicts in the Niger Delta, especially when it comes to environmental and wellbeing. We expose our students to these experiences with those working for the protection of environment in order to stem the tide of violent conflict in the region by regular guest lectures at the centre.

Alernative Laureate Right Livelihood Foundation Award recipient, and international environmentalist, Reverend Nnimmo Bassey was guest speaker at the programme and moderator of the film screening. Bassey is the second Nigerian recipient of the highly prized award after late Kenule Saro Wiwa, a play right and environmental activist who died in the hands of late General Sani Abacha, for organizing his Ogoni people, to demand environmental justice.

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