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RSG, 2017 And The Environment

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Our Environment, Our
Heritage: Environmental Sustainability: A Right For All.” That was the theme of the Port Harcourt Environmental Summit held this year. The summit was organised by the Rivers State House of Assembly Committee on Environment in collaboration with the executive arm of the government.
The conference theme was a summation of the policy thrust of the present administration in the environment sector. It would be recalled that before the inception of the present administration, major streets and roads in Port Harcourt city and its environs were littered with garbage Aside from the issue of garbage across the streets and roads of Port Harcourt and its environs, several creeks crisscrossing the city were blocked with debris.
This situation was largely responsible for the series of flood disasters which affected parts of Port Harcourt and its environs last year. It would be noted that in the year under review, the administration initiated series of programmes to return Port Harcourt to its Garden City status.
The monthly environmental sanitation exercise which was abandoned by previous administrations was reviewed and made more active.
The exercise has not only instilled the culture of cleanliness among residents of the state, but has also restored Port Harcourt to its Garden City status.
Moreover, Governor Nyesom Wike has also ensured that the monthly environmental sanitation exercise is not held only in the state capital, but also across the state.
It would be recalled that through the effort of the present administration, the heaps of refuse which litter virtually all parts of Oyigbo Local Government Area were cleared. The area was declared as the dirtiest local government council in the state.
The present administration in the out-gone year embarked on series of road constructions and rehabilitations across the city of Port Harcourt and the 23 local government areas, thereby improving the aesthetic condition of not only Port Harcourt and its environs but headquarters of the 23 local government areas.
In the year under review, the administration embarked on series of sensitisation campaigns in market places and strategic locations against some bad environmental practices such as, the indiscriminate dumping of refuse into gutters and drainages.
The burning of tyres, the indiscriminate pasting of posters on walls in the city and its environs as well as the illegal oil bunkering which was acknowledged to be a major contributor to the black soot incident witnessed across the state were also tackled. The state government took proactive measures to check the incidence of the black soot.
A taskforce on the black soot was constituted by the government to unravel the causes of the phenomenon and proffer solutions.
The taskforce made up of the Commissioner for Environment, Prof (Mrs) Roseline Konya, immediate past Commissioner for Information/Communications, Dr Austin Tam George and the immediate past Commissioner for Special Duties, Government House now Commissioner for Special Duties, Emeka I. Onowu, immediately swung into action, thereby checking the effects of the soot on the people.
The government also embarked on the dredging of the Ntawogba creek of which work was on-going at the time of filing the report.
The Tide also learnt that in the year under review, the government embarked on tree planting campaigns across the state.
The Ministry of Environment embarked on series of litigations against multinational companies for violating the environmental laws and regulations of the state, while series of conflicts between the companies and their host communities were resolved. Sources within the Ministry of Environment also informed The Tide that the series of flood awareness campaigns carried out by the ministry led to the intervention of the state government in the flood ravaged Eneka community.
Also in the year under review, the government, through the Ministry of Environment issued a stop work order against dredging companies along the Woji bridge while regular dredging inspection exercises have been embarked upon by the ministry within the period under review.
The government, through the Ministries of Special Duties and Environment also donated relief materials to persons affected by the flood incident especially those in the Eneka axis of the city.
Governor Wike has also shown his concern for the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report on the clean-up of Ogoniland, through series of actions.
The state government was not only involved in the flag off of the clean-up by Vice President Yemi Osibanjo but has at various fora harped on the need for the Federal Government to expedite work on the clean-up exercise.
The Nigerian Environmental Society (NES) also held its annual scientific conference in Port Harcourt in which the state government was fully represented.
Reviewing the out-gone year in a telephone interview with The Tide, the state Commissioner for Environment, Prof. (Mrs) Roseline Konya said that the year had been very challenging as people were not obeying environmental laws of the state.
Konya said that despite this challenge, the government has done well in the area of flood control, the black soot and general environmental cleanliness. She said that for the new year, the administration would improve on sanitation exercise, build more public conveniences across the state as well as complete the scrap- to- wealth project at Kira in Tai Local Government Area.
Similarly, an Environmentalist, Prince William Chinwo, described the out-gone year as one that has seen landmarks in environmental activities.
Prince Chinwo told The Tide in an interview that the ongoing dredging of the Ntawogba creek was a major achievement by the administration in its bid to rid the city of incessant flooding .
He also commended the administration for the series of campaigns against the dumping of refuse into gutters and stressed the need for the situation to be sustained in the new year.
Several environmentalists also commended the government for its effort in tackling environmental challenges in the out-gone year.
This is why the efforts must be sustained to ensure a cleaner environment for Rivers people in the new year.

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We’re Hopeful Of Passage Of Water Resources Bill -Minister

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The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, has expressed hope over the passage of the National Water Resources Bill before the National Assembly.
Adamu expressed the optimism while answering questions on the sidelines of a two-day training for Water Resources Correspondents, Editors, and News Analysts in the Nigerian Water Sector’  with theme, ‘Reporting Water in its Perspective’.
The Tide source reports that the training is to build capacity of reporters on water resources sector by having deep knowledge of terminologies and issues in the water sector.
The Tide also recalls that the Bill, which was introduced in the 8th Assembly, caused outrage as some Nigerians interpreted the law as a power grab by the federal Government.
“It is part of our roadmap as far as I am concerned. We will continue to engage with the National Assembly, now that they have come back from recess, we hope to engage.
“At the same time, we are talking to all other antagonists to allay the fears to accommodate whatever apprehension. We are very confident that we’ll get that bill passed,” the minister said.
He further stated that it was wrong for a section of Nigerians to completely criticize and condemn the whole Bill instead of pointing out areas that needs to be reconsidered.
“It doesn’t make sense if you have problem with the Bill; identify the key issue or problem if there is need for amendment instead to completely condemn just because of one or two items you are not satisfied with.
“In the National Assembly, you have public hearing, and we will still go back,” the minister said.

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Community Residents Flay Dumping Of Sachets, Bottles In Drainages

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Some residents of Eneka Community in Obio/Akpor  Local Government Area of Rivers State have condemned the indiscriminate dumping of water sachets and bottles in drainages and along the road in the community.
Speaking in an interview with The Tide in the community, they said the situation is not only an eyesore but responsible for incessant flooding being witnessed in the community.
Mr Chibuike Adim, indigene of Rumuoji Eneka condemned the practice, adding that it is this practice that blocked the gutters and caused flashed flooding in some areas in the community.
Adim called on the state government to save the community from the practice by constituting the tax force to check this habit.
He also said those who engaged in this practice are not only uneducated but also foolish, stressing that such people must be dealt with according to the law.
Also speaking, Miss Patience Odum also condemned the practice but added that there is no designated refuse dump site in the community.
Odum also urged for the provision of refuse receptacle in the area while the Rivers State Waste Management agency (RIWAMA) should also monitor the activities of the people.
Also speaking, Miss Alice Nsikak, a student of Rivers State University said the practice has become a big problem to the community as the entire drainages are blocked.
She stressed the need for sensitisation of the residence against the practice.
Nsikak also called on government to improve the method of refuse collection by providing waste bin to homes on the streets.
According to her, “people could be asked to pay little amount of money every month”, adding that the proposal will check the menace as well as check flash flooding in the community.
Also speaking with The Tide, Mr Ndubuise Ogom confirmed that dumping of plastic materials, refuge and pure water sachets in the drains is a very common practice in Eneka and also felt very bad about this practice.
This practice, added, must be stopped by government by promulgating laws to punish offenders. This if done, will prevent people taking part in such practice. He suggested, a fine of N1000 be slammad on those dumping refuge and plastic containers in the gutter.

By: Oribim Nyanaa Ibama, Elendu Obochi Esther & Inimgba Favour Victor

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UNESCO Laments Impending Collapse Of Biodiversity …Says Human Survival At Risk

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The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has raised alarm at the unprecedented speed which biodiversity is collapsing globally.
The Director-General of UNESCO Ms Audrey Azoulay, expressed this concern at the UNESCO 33rd session of the the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB-ICC) Programme in Abuja.
Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on earth at all its levels, from genes to ecosystems, and can encompass the evolutionary, ecological, and cultural processes that sustain
The director-general said that with the impending collapse, not only was human survival at risk, but also the beauty and the diversity of the world.
She said that the collapse was from the treetops to the ocean depths and from vertebrates to invertebrates, adding that no species was spared.
“This is the spirit driving UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme. It is what makes it so pioneering and so valuable.
“We all have to stand on the earth itself and go with her at her pace. With this impending collapse, not only is human survival at risk, but also the beauty, the diversity of the world.
“But this collapse is not inevitable: there is still time to make peace with the planet,” she said.
According to her, there is the conviction that we can re-forge our relationship with nature, that we can reconcile development and environmental protection.
“We must harness the power of education to rebuild our relationship with nature. UNESCO is fully mobilised to ensure that the environment becomes a key curriculum component by 2025.
“This is in line with the commitment made by the 80th governments we gathered at the Berlin conference last May.
UNESCO, a custodian of knowledge and know-how concerning biodiversity, has been developing concrete solutions to environmental challenges for over 50 years through the MAB programme and its network of protected sites, covering nearly six per cent of the planet.
With 714 biosphere reserves in 129 countries, including transboundary sites, UNESCO seeks to reconcile humans and nature and demonstrate that it is possible to use biodiversity sustainably while fostering its conservation.
The Minister of State for Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor, said that the world was facing planetary crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.
According to her, this global loss of biodiversity is threatening the security of the world’s food supplies and the livelihoods of millions of people including indigenous people and local communities, especially in the African region.

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