Small Island Develop
ing States (SIDs), Raise Your Voice Not The Sea Level.”
That was the theme and sub-theme respectively of this year’s World Environment Day (WED).
The World Environment Day was introduced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to draw global attention to the devastating impact of climate change on the environment.
For last year, the celebration had the theme; “Think, Eat, Save, Reduce Your Footprint,” while for this year. It is Small Island Developing States (SIDs).”
The significance of this year’s celebration was that attention was being focused on the environmental challenges confronting Small Island Nations, which are vulnerable to ocean surge.
Rivers State by its geographical location is a littoral state with small islands that are already feeling the effect of climate change.
Some of these islands in Rivers State are; Andoni, Bonny Okrika, Opobo and Kalabari among others.
The grand finale of the celebration in Rivers State which took place at the Alfred Diette Spiff Civic Centre was attended by corporate organisations and individuals.
Among the corporate organizations that attended the celebration included: the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), Indorama Nigeria Limited Nigeria Limited Natural Gas Liquefied (NLNG) and other international oil corporations (IOCs).
Also at the event were representatives of the Nigerian Environmental Society (NES), United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the National Orientation Agency (NOA).
Among personalities at the celebration include: Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, ably represented by the Commissioner for Employment Generation and Empowerment, Dr. Ipalibo Harry, Chairman, Rivers State House of Asssembly Committee on Environment, Hon. (Mrs) Victoria Nyeche, Professor Winston Bellgam, Dr Okikere Iragunima, Chief Medical Director, Rivers State Hospital Management Board, Dr Nyema Weli, Commissioner for Environment Rivers State and his health counterpart, Dr Sampson Parker, among others.
The Chairman, House of Assembly Committee on Environment, Hon. Mrs Victoria Nyeche, in her opening remark said that, the theme for the celebration must be localised to reflect the environmental realities facing the state.
Hon Nyeche, who was chairman of the occasion, regretted that the World Environment Day celebration had become a yearly ritual without definite steps being taken by the authorities to address problems highlighted during celebration.
According to her, the objective of the celebration will be defeated, if the government fails to address it.
She, however, said that, the issue of saving our environment from pollution must be seen as a collective effort by all as the government alone cannot do it.
“There must be a resolution to do something to improve the environment,” she said.
Hon. Nyeche said that the Rivers State House of Assembly has taken steps to improve the environment especially with the passage of the Rivers State Waste Management Bill into law and urged the State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to give his accent to the bill.
In his welcome address, the Commissioner for Environment, Dr Nyema Weli said that the theme was to call attention of the international community to threat of sub mergence of coastal communities across the world, following the rising sea level.
Dr Weli said that Rivers State was not immune from this threat as tidal erosion was threatening the existence of many riverine communities in the state.
The commissioner, who attributed this situation to the anti-environmental activities of man, said that, time has come for the enactment of policies and programmes to check man’s activities on the environment.
Acording to him, “we have contributed to the problem of green house gases.”
“This is the time to remind all to reduce our carbon emission and cherished processes that encourage us to dispose our waste properly.”
He said that the ministry has proposed a new Rivers State Environmentla Management Bill to ensure sustainable environment for the state.
The commissioner also advocated tree planting exercise across the state to check tidal and other forms of erosion while environmentally friendly electronic gadgets must be used by homes across the State.
The State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, who was represented by the State Commissioner for Employment Generation and Empowerment, Dr Ipalibo Harry, urged the Federal Government to treat the state as a special area in view of its vulnerability to ocean surge and other natural disasters.
Rt. Hon. Amaechi said that the state government has professionalised waste management system in the state, while increased budgetary allocation has been made to the Rivers State Minsitry of Environment.
He condemned the continous building on water right of ways by some residents of the State as well as the continous use of dynamites by fishermen.
The Governor urged Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) to wake up to their responsibilities of checking some anti-environmental practices in the state, such as the use of tyres to roast meat in abattoirs among others.
In his keynote address, Professor Winston Bellgam explained that Rivers State and the entire Niger Delta have peculiar environmental challenges that distinguishes them from the rest of the country.
Professor Bellgam said that time has come for the Nigerian government to put in place processes towards the development of the coastal areas.
A cross section of the people who attended the event said that the position of Hon. Victoria Nyeche, must be taken seriously in order to realise the objective of the celebration.
They also urged the government to give more attention to the problem of coastal communities as some of them would in the nearest future become extinct due to rising sea level.
It would be recalled that before the grand final, awareness campaign was carried out by the government in Bonny and Ngo, while a tree planting exercise was carried out at the Isaac Boro Park.
Don Traces Environmental Challenges To Poverty, Ignorance
Dean Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Calabar, Prof. Imo Ekpoh on Wednesday disclosed that Nigeria cannot solve its environmental challenges without solving the challenges of poverty and ignorance.
Ekpoh said this in an interview with The Tide source in Calabar.
The Prof. of climatology noted that as a nation we needed to carryout measures that would ensure that rural dwellers lived sustainably with the forests and not destroy them.
“Telling people who have been logging or burning bushes as a profession they learnt from their fathers to stop logging and burning bushes at the beginning of the farming season because you want to check greenhouse gases emission won’t work.
“This is because they will not understand, unless they are educated and given an alternative means of livelihood.
“Today, many of our rural communities take bush burning as a way of life and when village A, B, and C continue to burn the forests, it becomes a major challenge contributing to global warming, he maintained.
Ekpoh stated that the major factor that was enhancing global warming was the amount of greenhouse gases such as carbon-(iv)-oxide, methane, nitrous-oxide and chlorofluorocarbons released daily into the atmosphere.
He said that preindustrial level of atmospheric carbon-(iv)-oxide was in the region of 280 parts per million but at present, it was over 400 parts per million.
He added that if not for the efforts of some communities like Cross River in planting trees, it would have risen to 500 parts per million.
“Planting of trees is important because it helps in the absorption of carbon-(iv)oxide which escapes into the atmosphere from different sources and enhancing global warming.
“Global warming brings with it surprises because earth’s atmosphere becomes unstable, making it difficult for scientists to predict.
“This is why you see massive flooding in China, storms in America and bush fires at the same time, some other countries are witnessing draught and even Nigeria is not left out with the effects of desert encroachment and other disasters.
“As a nation we need to start enforcing the use of catalytic converters in our vehicles and factories and also provide an alternative and safe means of survival for our people, if we must save our environment,” he asserted.
Traders Blame Flooding In Mile One Market On Lack Of Drainage Facilities
Traders at the popular Mile one Market in the Port Harcourt City Local Government Area of Rivers State have blamed the incessant in the market to lack of drainage facilities.
A cross section of traders who spoke to The Tide in an interview said the market need good drainages to enable easy flow of water whenever it rains.
They also call on the government to put in place polices that will check indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the market.
Speaking in an interview, Mr Adekunle Alabi, a meatseller said the market needs good drainage system to ensure the flow of water dring rainfalls.
“According to him, whenever it rains, flood passes through the railway, if there is good drainage, the water would just flow out”.
Also speaking, a woman who gave her name as a fisherman’s wife called on the government to ensure that the market is regularly adding that most traders have developed the habit of dumping refuse in gutters in the maket.
According to her, this refuse always block the water from flowing out during rainfall.
She said, the situation is affecting traders adversely.
“Some people carry dirty and dump inside the gutter, so the water does not see road to pass, and it cause flood everywhere.
“That is why we are suffering in this market” she said.
Also speaking, another trader, Mrs Betty Silas said the gutter needs to be cleaned up regularly to ensure that there is easy flow of water.
The most important thing, the gutters are not deep enough, so when it rains it causes flood in the market” she said.
For Mr Ezekiel Solomon, the cause of the flooding in the market is due to lack of sanitation, stressing that a Thursday weekly sanitation exercise should be enforced, to ensure that no debris blocking the gutter.
Also speaking, Mrs Abigail Chukwudi call on the government to enforce regular sanitation exercise to compel some traders to always clean their stalls.
Another trader, Mr Oliver the also call for the regular visit of sanitation officials in the market to ensure compliance in the weekly sanitation exercise.
By: Elendu-Obochi Esther Inmgba Favour Victor & Oribim Nyanaa Ibama
Gas Leakage Destroys Properties At College
Authorities of the Federal College of Education (Technical Omoku say a gas leakage which occurred at the permanent site of the college has destroyed properties worth millions of naira.
According to a press release emailed to the reporter, the incident brings to three, the number of gas leakage witnessed so far within the last four years in the college.
The release signed by the institution’s Public Relations Officer, Prince Charles Amadike, said the leakage which occurred last Friday emanated from a high pressure gas pipeline 95 bar allegedly belonging to the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas which runs through the college’s permanent site.
It said though no life was lost, the ugly incident apart from posing health and environmental hazard has destroyed many properties including farms, fish ponds, students’ demonstration farms as well as degradation of the college’s environment therefore may cause the College to shut down as staff and students have deserted the campus for fear of explosion.
The release also said that the permanent site of the college houses the instiution’s Directorate of Degree Programme in affiliation with University of Nigeria Nsukka and University of Uyo, students hostels, many schools of study, laboratories, water factory, directorates, departments, units, staff offices, games village as well as fish ponds, etc. with thousands of staff, students and traders residing within the area.
Meanwhile, some students who spoke at the scene of the incident threatened to stage a peaceful demonstration if the companies that laid pipelines through the college did not find lasting solutions to the reoccurring oil and gas spillage in the college. According to them, the school was not safe for learning as a result of such ugly incidents.
Also speaking at the scene of the incident, the Provost of the college, Dr Emmanuel Ikenyiri, accompanied by some members of the Management of the college appealed to the affected company to come and stop the gas leakage which is still on as at the time of filing this report. He also appealed to government at all levels, multinational companies, corporate bodies as well as philanthropic organizations and individuals to come to the aid of the college which is the only gederal tertiary institution in Orashi region of Rivers State outside Port Harcourt, as frequent oil or gas spillage in an academic institution is a risk on human lives, lamenting that apart from the destruction of college’s valuables and other aquatic lives, staff, students and visitors to the school could not breath well because the gas has saturated the area.
While thanking God that no life was lost as a result of the incident, he also commended the staff, students and farmers for their peaceful approach and urged them to remain calm as the management had concluded plans to contact the affected company.
By: John Bibor
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