Prof. Emmanuel Asuquo Obot was a Professor of Botany, a renowned Orchid Specialist with expertise in use of Geographical Information System (GIS) applications. Until his demise, he was the Executive Director of Nigeria’s premier and foremost conservation NGO, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), former Chairman of BirdLife’s Council for the Africa Partnership (CAP), Co – Chair, IUCN Commission on Environmental Economic and Social Policy (CEESP), Member, IUCN Working Group on Extractive Industry and Biodiversity (WGEIB), and Member, IUCN Orchid Survival Group.
His unparalleled experiences in protected area management; biodiversity conservation and related research; forest resources policy and management; natural resources policy advocacy; community based conservation management; and wetland resources management span over 3 decades. Prof. Obot’s impeccable biological research ability and effort earned him honours citation in the rare butterfly subspecies - Acraea oreas oboti – named after him.
He worked for over 30 years in design and implementation of demonstration projects to elucidate strategies for environmentally sustainable community based development processes that guarantees access rights and secure land tenure to local people as well as development and application of participatory renewable natural resources management tools with local people living around protected areas in Nigeria. This led to development of a “governance” structure that allow communities living in close proximity to National Park have a stake and contribute to the management of the Parks as well as facilitating communities towards sustainable development through conservation of renewable natural resources while maintaining ecosystem functions, realizing biodiversity trade value and developing their own resource use and management plans.
He led the NCF team to facilitate the development of Natural Resource Management Plans and Sustainable Community Development strategies for targeted communities in the Niger Delta region towards the promotion of a paradigm shift among Niger Delta Communities and Governments from oil and gas to sustainable management of renewable natural resources towards poverty reduction through the realization of the trade value of biodiversity.
His professional experiences traversed a wide array of employment records. He was Professor of Botany and Dean, Faculty of Science, Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) from 1991 to 1994. Prof. Obot was the Biological Research Coordinator of Okwangwo Programme, Cross River National Park, Nigeria from 1994 to 1998. Between 1987 and 1989, he was Senior Lecturer, River’s State University of Science and Technology. He was also Research Officer at the National Institute for Freshwater Fisheries Research from 1979 to 1989 where he began his career in biological research interfaced with environmental management.
He championed the re-engineering of community based projects by developing models that strongly encourage ownership of natural resources management by stakeholder communities. The Buru Model that is now replicated in other parts of Nigeria albeit with an adaptive approach is one example of such models.
Prof. Obot also, in 1984, developed a computer based model for the management and utilization of the aquatic macrophyte, Echinochloa stagnina (that invaded Lake Kainji) as dry season livestock fodder for nomadic livestock that otherwise lose weight and form due to inadequate feed during the usually long dry season associated with semi arid areas of Nigeria. Today, the results of this work is of direct benefit to people because the harvesting, drying and sale of Echinochloa “hay” based on the models is a full time occupation of a section of the population of villages around Lake Kainji especially in Birnin Yauri.
Apparently well versed with the use of mathematics in biology, Professor Obot has published several mathematical models; the most significant being:
A model for Estimating the optimum tree density for maximum herbaceous production in the guinea savanna of Nigeria. (Journal of Arid Environments. 14, 267-273.)
Logging and forest recovery: A modelling approach to the question of Gap Dynamics. (Roan 1 (1) 16 – 23)
Recently, he successfully sponsored three motions at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Congress in October 2008, namely: Motion 108 – Establishing 1% earth profit fund and sustaining government conservation fund; Motion 122 – Establishing IUCN Extractive Responsibility Initiative; Motion 127 – Establishing Citizen Advisory Council for large scale extractive industry project.
His work (in collaboration with others) in oil and gas issues has helped to draw the attention of stakeholders to the unacceptable levels of hydrocarbon pollution in the Niger Delta, Nigeria; producing, so far, the most comprehensive oil spill map for Nigeria. This work concluded that 9 – 13 million barrels of crude oil has been spilled in the Niger Delta within the last fifty years. This is equivalent to 50 x the well popularised Exxon Valdez spill
or 1 “Exxon Valdez per year for a period of 50 years”
His recent work on climate change is summarised in the following publications:
Ayeni, J. S. O., Obot, E. A. and Mbagwu, I. G. (1995). The impact on energy development of recent changes in the macrophytic vegetation of Lake Kainji: A consequence of climate change. In: Umolu, J. C. (ed.) Global Climate Change. Impact on Energy Development. Damtech Nigeria Limited.
Obot, E. A. (2008c). Climate Change: Generating Carbon Credit from Renewable Natural Resources Projects. Invited paper presented at the Cross River State Stakeholders’ Summit on the environment. Calabar, 25th – 28th June 2008.
Obot, E. A. (2008b). Climate Change, Global Warming and Sustainable Development: Challenges and Opportunities for Nigeria. Keynote Address to the Workshop on Climate Change: Awareness and Challenges, 21st – 22nd August 2008. DevNet.
Obot, E. A. (2008a). Climate Change and Coastal Areas of Nigeria: Vulnerability and Adaptation. Workshop on the Challenges of Climate Change for Nigeria. NISER, Ibadan. 29 – 30th April 2008.
Global Warming: Nigeria under attack. Film documentary. Heinrich Boll Stiftung, Nigeria (2008).
Prof Obot was a Fellow, Botanical Society of Nigeria, Member, Forestry Association of Nigeria, Member, Environmental Society of Nigeria, and President: Ecological Society of Nigeria.
Born 11 April 1952, married to Emma Obot, an Educationist. Blessed with four children
Utip Emmanuel Obot - Daughter.
Asuquo Akpan Obot – Son.
Kendu Emmanuel Obot - Son.
Daniel Emmanuel Obot – Son.
May his soul rest in perfect peace.