Prof. Kayode Oyesiku, the President, Association of Nigerian Geographers (ANG) on Monday urged federal and state governments to pay close attention to geography being a strong foundation of human environment.
Oyesiku made the call during the opening ceremony of the 59th annual conference of the association at the University of Ibadan.
The conference has its theme: “Geography and Sustainable National Development”.
According to him, lack of understanding of strategic importance of geography has led to its relegation to the background of national discuss.
He said that the association had made significant stride in the development of the country, particularly in population growth and its effect on the spatial spread and development of regions.
“Geographers in this country have significantly been the pioneer of urban development, regional planning and more importantly, supporting the development of the quantitative tools for spatial analysis.
“Also it has contributed to digital presentation of information for commerce, business, safety, and firefighting and refuse management,’’ he said.
He said that the major challenges was the ability to highlight the extent to which the subject of geography and how geographers could make more meaningful contributions to the development of the country.
“We should not forget to also sustain the drive toward getting back geography as a subject that has been sandwiched within some part of social studies at secondary school level,” he said.
Oyesiku said that while other countries were investing in the development of geography as a course from elementary schools, Nigeria had opted to relegate the discipline as a subject to the background.
“We are becoming a country producing youths and elders without knowledge of basic locations,” he said.
He decried the fact that many youths could not give answers to some of the questions on the exact locations of some states due to poor knowledge of geography during job interviews.
“We cannot go on like this as the development of our youths and future generations are very unsustainable hence geographers must be partners in the sustainable development of the country,” he said.
Malam Kabir Yari, of UN Habitat said the theme was relevant and appropriate in the light of global and national attention which was currently focusing on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the Global 2030 Agenda.
He said that there was a four-fold increase of the national population within a period of 50 years, according to the National Report on Habitat 111, which led to increased demand and consumption of resources with adverse impacts on the urban environment.
“The SDGs are a universal blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
“They addressed global challenges including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice,’’ he said.
The SDGs emphasises the integrated nature of components of sustainable development namely economic, social and environmental.
The Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Akin Mabogunje said that the relationship between geography and the SDGs was based solely on the economic wellbeing of Nigeria and the world at large.
He urged geographers to acquire knowledge in public administration to achieve sustainable development.
Mabogunje decried that an important subject as geography, which had greatly affected the development process and population growth of the country, should not be removed from the nation’s educational curriculum.
He recommended that the subject be made compulsory both at the primary and secondary levels to build more geographers that would be able to tackle future environmental issues, especially during disasters.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a cash price of N100, 000 was given to Zamani College, Kaduna by the association for producing Miss Awubaka Zenab as the winner of a geography school quiz competition it organised.