The United Nations De
velopment Programme (UNDP) last year embarked on series of programmes to save the Niger Delta biodiversity resources from extinction.
The programme by the UNDP, no doubt is in line with the just concluded 2016 World Environment Day celebration.
It will be recalled that, the theme, for this year’s World Environment Day celebration was, “Fight Against Illegal Wildlife Trade” and the slogan is “Go Wild”.
The World Environment Day celebration was initiated by the United Nation (UN) to give a human face to environmental issues as well as empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development.
It will be noted that the theme for this year’s celebration follows the alarming rate of illegal wildlife trade across the world.
A release from the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) a copy obtained by The Tide, described wildlife trade as the commerce of products that are derived from non domesticated animals, eg plants usually extracted from their natural environment or raised under controlled conditions.
“It can involve the trade of living or dead individuals, tissues such as skins, bones or meat or other products”.
It must be noted that legal wildlife trade is regulated by the United Nations convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild fora and fara (CITES) with 170 member countries including Nigeria called parties.
Although illegal wildlife trade may not be common in the Niger Delta, but other environmental conditions have impacted negatively on the continuous existence of wildlife in Rivers State and other parts of the Niger Delta.
Available information obtained from civil society organizations indicates that environmental factors such as, oil pollution deforestation, bush burning and others have contributed to wildlife migration from the Niger Delta.
Some of the wildlife which are on the verge of extinction in the region are, the Niger Delta colobus, proco lobusepreni type of Red Monkey found in Nembe, Bayelsa State, the Hippopotamus, common in Bonny river but rarely seen these days, the Boa constrictor in Andoni and the Elephants also in Andoni.
Also on the verge of extinction are the Tortoise in Alode forest, Eleme, the Gorillas in Ogoni and even the periwinkles and the oyelsters.
The Commissioner for Environment, River State, Professor (Mrs) Roseline Konya, said that the state government will take some steps to preserve some of these wildlife from extinction. The commissioner, who delivered her address, during the celebration, said that government will also sensitise, various stakeholders, particularly, the public and private sector, the students, the teachers, the academia, the investors, civil society organisations (CSOs) non-governmental organisations the market women and men to make their input in the fight against illegal wildlife trade as stakeholders in one way or the other.
Professor Konya also said that, the government will evolve containment measures for the Elephants in the Andoni forest.
According to her, “in the Niger Delta and indeed Rivers State in areas like Oyoroketo, Illotombi Aywut, Obolo in Andoni local government area, elephants we are told move around in communities, sometimes ravaging crops of farmers.
“The ministry will collaborate with NGOs to contain these animals, attempting to preserve them” she said. The commissioner said that Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike has approved the relocation of the Port Harcourt Zoo from Trans/Amadi to Greater Port Harcourt, while the present location will be turned to amusement park.
The National Second Vice President of the Waste Management Society of Nigeria (WAMASON) Envoy Sodienye A. Abere, described the celebration as unique in view of its relationship with wildlife.
Envoy Sodienye said that all international and local laws designed to curb illegal wildlife trade be implemented especially in the Niger Delta to save wildlife in the region from extinction.
“This year’s motto, “Go Wild for Life” is apt. Yes we need to be wild (which is the original nature) to save life”, he said.
For the chairman, Environmental Management Association of Nigeria Rivers State chapter, Chief Sao Selako, the world has a duty to protect our environment wildlife for sustainability.
Other environmentalist sits who also commented on the issue described wildlife as a part of existence that must be protected, stressing that for this to be achieved, the leadership must muster enough political will to implement laws relating to wildlife conservation.
The move by the Rivers State Government to protect wildlife in the state is a commendable one and efforts must be made to ensure its success.
Flooding: Fear Grips Engenni Communities As Water Level Rises
Fear of an imminent flood disaster has gripped communities in Engenni kingdom of Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State, following the rising level of water in the Orashi River.
Sources from the area informed The Tide that some farmers in the area have begun the premature harvesting of their crops to avoid them being destroyed by the imminent flood disaster while other residents have begun moving their properties out of the area.
Public Relations Officer of Isua Community, Joinkrama told The Tide in a telephone interview that there is widespread fear among residents of communities in the kingdom.
Oka, who is also the principal of Joinkrama Boys school said farmers in the area have began the premature harvesting of crops, in anticipation of flood disaster, while other are relocating from their homes.
“What is happening now is that, there is panic in the communities especially those on the shores of the Orashi river and some people are engaging in premature harvesting of cassava and other crops”.
He said the situation is not only in Engenni kingdom, but Ekpeye communities on the shores of the Orashi river are experiencing similar situation.
Oku said, though there are designated Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in the area, the number of persons that will be affected will be too much for them.
He said, the solutions to this problem lies on the government finding a lasting solution to the problem.
He said the constant dredging of the Orashi river is necessary to ensure constant flows of water to the sea, while the adjorning creeks should also be dredged.
He mentioned the creeks to be dredged as that of Joinkrama Mbiama and Okarki.
“The government should open up the creeks at Okarki, Joinkrama and Mbiama for water to flow into the sea.
“Government should also embark on the construction of embankment, “The Orashi river is becoming shallow, Government should dredge it” he said.
The educationist who described the 2018 flooding as the worst however expressed the hope that the situation this year will be different. Oku said the frequency of flooding in the Engenni Kingdom and other parts of the state has supported the theory of climate change, stressing that since 1969, when he experienced the first flood disaster in the Kingdom, its frequency is now raising serious concern among the people.
Safe Water, Sanitation: W’Bank To Invest $350m In Nigeria
Federal Government says World Bank will invest 350 million dollars to support the Partnership of Expanded Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) programme in Nigeria.
The Minister of Water Resources, said this at the National Mr Sulieman Adamu, Stakeholders’ Consultation workshop on Nigeria Rural WASH Project last Thursday in Abuja.
“The World Bank has graciously considered our request and preparing a project in support of the PEWASH programme in the country.
“This is with an investment worth 350 million dollars to deliver sustainable and safe water and sanitation to millions of Nigerians and to support our efforts to end open defecation.
“I sincerely thank the Work Bank for this effort and hope this will open the gate for more supports from our esteemed development,” he said.
Adamu said that the consultation workshop was also aimed at discussing modalities for the implementation of the proposed Nigeria Sustainable Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project to be supported by the World Bank.
He said the workshop was to review and fashion out modalities necessary for the taking off and the full implementation of the project.
The minister however said that states were expected to meet certain criteria to be qualified and to be ready to receive the support of the proposed project.
He said that these criteria were not anything new, rather the same requirements were necessary for adequate preparation and smooth implementation of the project.
“Mr President during inauguration of the National Action Plan for the Revitalisation of the WASH Sector in November 2018 directed that Federal Government support to state governments would be contingent upon their willingness to implement the National Action Plan.
“State governments must therefore be ready to make both political and financial commitment that will be needed for the project being prepared with the World Bank, ”he said.
The minister while unveiling a report on the “Nigeria Rural WASH Services Access and Sustainability Report” said the report provides an assessment of the current rate of WASH services in the country.
He said that the report had evaluated some of the basic drivers underpinning rates and undertook a comprehensive review of the various modalities of WASH provision in the rural Nigeria, among others.
Adamu therefore reiterated commitment to the Clean Nigeria, Use the Toilet campaign to stop open defecation in the country by 2025.
Mr Rachid Benmessaoud, the World Bank’s representative said that low access to Water supply, Sanitation and Hygiene services (WASH) was a major reason for this poor performance.
“Lack of WASH services has led to high infant mortality, deteriorates lifelong health and reduces educational attainment that has in turn diminished labour productivity.
“The World Bank is proud to offer continued support as you embark on implementing the National Action Plan for the Revitalisation of Nigeria’s WASH sector.
“That is why this year, at the request of your government, our team has begun preparing a new 350 million dollars lending operation in support of rural communities and small towns,” he said.
He said that the project seeks to increase access to water, sanitation and hygiene services and strengthen capacity for service delivery.
Benmessaoud said that with the collaboration of all in the implementation of the Action Plan, the federal, state and local governments, development partners, stakeholders, Nigeria ” can make the impossible possible”.
Rivers Communities Want Govt, NDDC To Tackle Bad Road
Residents of Igbo Etche and other communities in Etche Local Government Area have called on the Rivers State Government and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to come to their aid following the deplorable conditions of the Rumuokwurushi/Igbo Etche road.
The road constructed in 2016 by the Rivers State Government is in deplorable state, thereby making movement of persons and goods from Etche Local Government Area, the South East and other parts of the country to Port Harcourt, the state capital difficult.
A cross section of the people who spoke with The Tide pleaded with the Rivers State Government to consider the road for reconstruction.
They noted that the poor condition of the road is making it difficult for people living in the area to maintain contact with other parts of the State.
A resident Mr. Chika Onyebuenyi said, life is becoming difficult for the thousands of residents of the area due to the poor condition of the road.
He said, the road is now the gateway to the South East region of the country stressing that motorists coming from Aba and other parts of the South East now ply the Igbo Etche road because of the bad condition of the Aba/Port Harcourt express way.
Also speaking, another resident Favour Aimatu said man hours are being lost daily on the road due to its terrible state.
He said the situation has become a big security risk as criminals use the bad spots on the road to harrass innocent passengers.
On his part Hyke Onyenwe pleaded with the State Government to come to the aid of the people by fixing bad spots on the road.
Mr. Ifeanyi John, another resident decried the poor condition of the road and called for urgent intervention.
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