Some environmentalists have called on the government and other stakeholders in the environment to start aggressive campaigns to change the public attitude and behaviour toward the use and disposal of plastics in Nigeria.
They proffered solutions to plastic pollution in line with the theme of the 2018 World Environment Day: “Beat Plastic Pollution’’.
The Senior Programme Officer, Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Initiative, Mr Richard Inyamkume, said that the government and citizens should evolve practical strategies that would reduce the menace of plastic waste in communities.
Inyamkume said that other methods of tackling the environmental issue involved public activism and legislation.
“I believe in change of attitude as it can increase public consciousness about the impact of plastics on the environment while prompting alternative considerations for the use of plastics in the country.
A campaign against improper plastic waste disposal can begin in the home-setting before going into the streets; it should make high impact and encourage plastics reuse, recycling and substitution,’’ he said.
Inyamkume, however, underscored the need for the citizens to understand their specific roles in the campaign for a plastic-free environment.
He noted that they should also be encouraged to organise regular community cleanup activities to clear plastic waste.
“Besides, government and policy makers ought to review national legislation and policies so as to discourage the production of single-use disposable plastic materials, while encouraging the production and importation of environment-friendly products.
“Plastic pollution occurs where plastic materials are indiscriminately dumped in an area in such a way that it begins to impact negatively on the ecosystem,’’ he said.
He said that the global community was planning to achieve clean, sustainable and pollution-free cities by 2030 and as such, efforts were underway to address plastic pollution.
“In Nigeria, plastic pollution has increased over time due to the proliferation of plastics producing factories and a corresponding increase in the demand for plastic materials by the public.
“These increases have come with attendant environmental consequences such as plastic pollution, mostly in urban and commercial areas, and there has not been enough public awareness or sensitisation on the proper methods of disposing plastics.
“What usually constitutes plastic pollution includes but is not limited to single-use plastics such as plastic bags, water bottles, straws, cups, utensils, dry cleaning bags, take-away containers or disposable plastic materials,’’ he said.
The environmentalist said that if not properly managed, plastic waste could affect life on land and in oceans or rivers.
Inyamkume said that Nigeria should to join the global crusade to end plastic pollution because of its hazards to the environment.
In his view, Mr David Michael, the Executive Director, Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation, a non-governmental organisation, called for a total ban on single-use plastics if they could not be re-used or recycled.
“We are advocating for a total ban of single use of plastics in Nigeria because plastics do not decay; they remain in the soil, river and ocean for years,’’ he said.
Michael urged producers of plastic packages to use biodegradable materials such as paper bags and leaf to package consumable products.
He said that his organisation organised the neighbourhood clean-up in Jabi community, in collaboration with the Government Secondary School students in the FCT, to sensitise them to the need to control plastic waste in the country.
“Plastics here in the Jabi community run off to Jabi Lake. If you see the quantity of plastics in Jabi Lake, you will never believe it.
“That is why we chose this community that is very close to the Jabi Lake because all the wastes of the residents overflow to the lake; we want the students to understand that it is important to dispose waste safely.
Clara Okpala, a student of Government Secondary School, Jabi, underscored the need to ban the production and utilisation of single-use plastics, observing that waste could harm and kill fishes and other marine creatures.
Martins Obi, another student of the school, said that plastic waste often blocked water channels, thereby causing floods which displaced people from their homes.
Oyedepo Joshua, a student and member of Eco-Club in Government Science and Technical College, Garki, said that the re-use of plastics through environmental creative arts would assist in the efforts to reduce plastic pollution in the country.
Joshua, who used plastic bottles to create a chair, said that the re-use of plastics would assist in the efforts to address plastic pollution in the country.
Vincent Davies, a student of Model Secondary School, Maitama, said that indiscriminate dumping of used nylon and plastics had been rampant on the school premises, calling for the erection of waste-bin stands to promote healthy environment.
Expressing concern about water pollution, the Head of Reservoir and Production Department, FCT Water Board Lower Usuma Dam, Mr Sunday Agbontaen, said that pollutants coming from Mpape community had increased the cost of water treatment.
Agbontaen said pollutants in the water attracted toxins which were dangerous to human health, observing that the dam’s facilities had the capacity to screen the solid pollutants and disinfect the water for human consumption.
“When the water comes in, even at the catchment area up the Mpape zone, we monitor the water quality; we also monitor non-water quality to know the type of treatment the water will go through.
“So, in the treatment process, we will be able to understand that this amount of pollutant is higher in the water.
“We need the number of chemicals to treat it in accordance to World Health Organisation and Nigeria Standard Organisation,’’ he said.
The dam official said that a new plant would be designed to address the emerging pollutants such as plastics, steels and other pollutant substances.
In efforts at checking pollution, the Minister of State for Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Jibril, said that the Federal Government was developing a national plastic waste recycling programme to establish plastic waste recycling plants across the country in partnership with state governments.
“At present, a total of eight plants have already been completed and handed over to the states while 18 others are at various stages of completion.
“In addition, the Federal Government is also collaborating with state governments to establish plastic waste recycling plants under the community-based waste management programme in the ministry.
“Therefore, two plants have been completed in Ilorin, one in Lokoja, while work on another is ongoing in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State,’’ he said.
Jibril advised officials of Food and Beverages Companies Alliance and some waste management stakeholders to implement the Extended Producer Responsibility policy.
He explained that the policy was designed to promote the integration of environmental costs associated with goods throughout their life cycles into the market price of the products.
Jibril also said that the implementation of the policy would go a long way in supporting efforts to clean the environment and make it pollution free.
He urged food and beverages companies to set aside a certain percentage of their profits for a campaign to sensitise Nigerians to the need to collect and recycle plastics and plastic bottles.
The minister urged the companies to encourage the recycling of plastic bottles and devise strategies that would motivate consumers to return the used bottles for recycling.
Also, the Director, Public Affairs and Communications, West Africa Business Unit, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Mr Clem Ugorji, said that Food and Beverages Companies Alliance was working to create a framework that would ensure effective collection and recycling of bottles.
Ugorji said that the alliance was working to become Extended Producer Responsibility-compliant, while making it mandatory for all food and beverages companies to discharge their social corporate responsibility.
In the same vein, the National President, Waste Management Society of Nigeria, Prof. Oladele Osibanjo, said that the society was collaborating with the alliance to organise a workshop to proffer solutions to the menace of plastic pollution in the country.
Osibanjo, who said that the workshop would be held in Lagos, said that it would attract relevant stakeholders in the waste management sector.
Abdulwahab writes for News Agency of Nigeria.
The Wike That I Know
Several comments, interpretations, narratives and theories have greeted the recent letter written by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of Rivers State to President Muhammadu Buhari, expressing the sincere appreciation of the Rivers State Government and people to Mr. President, for approving the sum of N78.9 billion to the state, as refund of monies expended by the State on federal projects in the state.
Most of these responses have either been mischievous, absurd, totally misleading and some even trying to conjure and configure fabulist narratives, celebrating the mystique and magical influence of the power of money on the human psyche.
But the most remarkable of these is the one written by Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, titled: WIKE VINDICATES BUHARISTS.
To be sure, Femi Adesina’s opinion on any topic immediately attracts considerable attention and commands tremendous weight, not just for the fact that he has been a seasoned journalist over the years, but indeed in recognition of his status as the Special Adviser to Mr. President Buhari on Media and Publicity; which makes him one of the recognized spokespersons of our President, whose views unequivocally represents the opinion of the Presidency in all matters.
It is therefore, in due cognizance of this latter responsibility and authority of his portfolio, that one must appreciate and commend Femi Adesina for his endorsement of Governor Nyesom Wike’s decision to thank President Buhari for approving the refund of N78.9 billion to Rivers State, and also the quite remarkable request for the President to oblige Rivers State with a State visit.
Of course, Femi Adesina’s admiration of Governor Nyesom Wike and his bold Thank You letter are embedded copiously in his article, though couched in the unerring profiling of the Rivers Governor in some lyrical passages and in some truculent, pro-Buhari obsessiveness in others.
The point needs to be made unambiguously, that the Rivers State Government, by way of emphasizing what Governor Wike rightly stated in the letter, appreciates the magnanimity of President Buhari,with profound gratitude and deep sincerity.
It was Aesop, the legendary Greek fabulist and writer of fables, who said that “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” There is certainly no doubt that one man who stands tall and proud, courageous and fearless with great nobility in today’s political space, is definitely Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
For instance, what Femi Adesina describes as “crying wolf” and “pontificating” is nothing more than the ability to say and do things which other people are too frightened or lily livered to say or do; what we refer to in Nigeria as “dying in silence. ”
What Mr. Adesina surely knows is that one virtue that Governor Wike possesses is courage. He has never hesitated to call anybody out including the President, his own party members and even multi-nationals operating in Rivers State, whenever the need arises and Adesina himself, has already agreed, by confessing to responding to some of these wolf cries in his write up, that these calls were necessary at the time they were made.
If Governor Wike’s courage to speak up when others are silent and cowering in fear, leads to the approval of the refund of the N78.9 billion which the Federal Government owes Rivers State, then the expression of gratitude that recognizes and appreciates such appropriate magnanimity is the highest form of nobility.
Like Mr. Femi Adesina rightly pointed out in his essay, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), chaired by President Buhari, approved the REFUND of N148 billion to five states in the country for repair of Federal roads, for which Rivers State got N78.9 billion. But that is not even half the story.
For the avoidance of doubt and to set the records straight, it will be germane at this juncture to tell the true story of the refund and set the records straight, as presented by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, once and for all.
Giving a background to the reimbursement, Lai Mohammed had explained that the decision was sequel to a huge bill sent to the federal government by the entire 36 states of the federation in 2016, seeking a refund of funds they expended on the repair of some federal roads in their respective states.
He said: “You will recall that in 2016, 36 states of the federation sent a very huge bill to the federal government, asking for compensation for money that they have expended on federal roads. This prompted Mr. President to set up a committee to go and verify the claims of these 36 states, whether indeed, these projects were actually constructed. Were they completed in line with the federal government standards?
“At the end of that exercise by an inter-ministerial committee, chaired by the Minister of Works and Housing which also had ministers of education, transportation (and immediate past Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi), minister of finance, minister of state for works, Director-General of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and permanent secretary, cabinet office as members, the committee recommended that the federal government should refund N550,364,297.31 billion to 31 of the 36 states, after they were convinced that, yes, indeed, the projects were completed and they were federal government roads.
“But the claims of five other states – Cross River, Rivers, Ondo, Bayelsa and Osun – failed on the grounds that they did not do proper documentation and the committee felt they needed proper documentation. So, the committee went back with new terms of reference to ensure that the claims of the five states were in order. That is why the BPP is on the committee.
“So, at the end of the exercise, the committee now reported that the five states – Cross River with 20 roads and one bridge will get a refund of N18,394,737,608.85; Ondo with six roads to get a refund of N7,822,147,577.08, and Osun with two roads and one bridge to get a refund of N2,468,938,876.78.
“Others are Bayelsa with five roads and one bridge to get a refund of N38,040,564,783.40 and Rivers with three roads and three flyover bridges is to get a refund of N78,953,067,518.29.”
From the above therefore, three important points stand out for particular interest and reference, viz:
1. The money is neither a generous loan gift or a desperate bailout package as people like Femi Adesina are shaping the narrative to sound, but a REFUND of monies already spent by Rivers State on Federal projects.
2. Rivers State was initially denied the refund until proper documentation was provided; a situation which many Rivers watchers will recall, prompted the Minister of Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola, to visit Rivers State in March this year.
3. Rivers State got the approval for the amount of refund simply because Rivers State did the most comprehensive, qualitative and enduring projects.
For record purposes, let us state clearly that President Buhari has the authority to visit any state he wants to in Nigeria, whether he is Invited or not. He is the father of the nation and Rivers State enjoys a candid, honest and robust relationship with the present Federal Government, especially the presidency.
On August 19, 2017, Governor Wike was among the dignitaries that welcomed President Buhari after 103 days in London where he received medical treatment for an undisclosed illness.
While naysayers were busy misinterpreting the gesture, Governor Wike explained that no sane person would not be happy that his sick President was back home.
Recall alsonthat Governor Wike was the first PDP Governor to congratulate President Buhari after his second term election victory was upheld by the Supreme Court in September last year. Indeed, the warm, cordial, respectful relationship between President Buhari and Governor Wike, captured in several widely circulated photographs, of the President’s visit to Rivers State to commission the international wing of the Port Harcourt international airport speaks volumes.
We need not also remind Mr. Adesina that as far back as February 2017, when Governor Wike was not even up to two years in Office, he had already been christened “Mr. Projects” by none other than the Vice President himself, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who not only affirmed that Rivers State was an important state to Nigeria and the Federal Government, but has since endeared himself to Rivers State and Governor Wike.
This brings us nicely to the part of the letter where Governor Wike unequivocally appeals to President Buhari to honour Rivers State with a Presidential state visit and we ask Mr. Femi Adesina: ‘what is wrong with the Rivers State Governor inviting the President for a state visit. Is he not the Father of the nation again. Is Governor Wike not one of his children?
Considering the fact that the approval for the refund was also made for monies expended by Rivers State for Federal Projects, isn’t it equally apt that Governor Nyesom Wike should invite Mr. President to come and at least see the work for which the refund was made? Indeed, it will also provide Mr. President the grand opportunity to see first hand, the amazing and fantastic infrastructural wonders which Governor Wike is delivering in Rivers State. This is absolutely the right thing to do by a grateful recepient.
Governor Wike has aptly pointed out that the decision to thank Mr. President and the appeal to invite him for a state visit was not a personal one, but a collective decision taken by the State Executive Council, to assure Mr. President that all is well with Rivers State and Rivers people are quite happy with him for approving the refund.
Like Femi Adesina correctly noted in his article, the N78.9 billion cannot be the reason for Governor Wike’s thank you letter and invitation to Mr. President. According to him: “I don’t think so. Rivers is by no means a poor state. The amount is handsome, no doubt, but the state is oil rich, and can hold her own when it comes to finances. I don’t agree less with Adesina because Governor Wike does not speak from both sides of his mouth and does not play to the gallery. His moral upbringing makes him to speak the truth at all times not minding whose ox is gored.
Finally, it is important to commend Mr. Adesina for articulating and justifying the decision of Governor
Wike to thank Mr. President and invite him to Rivers State. There is absolutely no doubt, as he so succinctly pointed out, that millions of Buharists would have actually advised the President not to approve the refund to Rivers State, and while many of them are still wailing and bellyaching at the President’s magnanimity, the icing on the refund cake is the chagrin and consternation, which even Adesina admits, has greeted Governor Nyesom Wike’s letter in their camp.
While Rivers people will not complain that the money was actually reduced from the original amount and that it even took so long for President Buhari’s fairness and justice to touch Rivers State, while he has been fair and just to other states, we are all still very happy and grateful that this approval for refund has been made, finally.
Attempts by people like Adesina to make political capital out of the genuine stance of a statesman will not be bought by well-meaning Nigerians.
What makes Adesina’s grandstanding more worrisome is that he will never comment or let the world know how much the South-West States received as refund for federal projects executed in that part of the country.
Governor Wike’s letter of appreciation and appeal for a presidential state visit is thus a clear indication that what the people thought was lost has now been recovered. All is well that ends well and Rivers people are happy.
For the avoidance of doubt, the letter to Mr. President was delivered to Aso Rock, three weeks before it was published.
Governor Wike is not like Adesina who knows how to speak from both sides of his mouth. In 2008, he said this about the Chief of Staff to the President: “Gambari enslaved himself to please his paymasters. Now 13 years after, the shackles are still tied around his neck, threatening to asphyxiate him. What an eternal lesson for fawning bootlicking grovellers to learn. Old sins indeed have long shadows.”
Now that Gambari is Chief of Staff to the President, people have been asking if Adesina still sees Gambari’s sins’ shadows or he(Adesina) has turned to a bootlicking groveller?
There is no doubt that he is currently savouring the office of Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity as a compensation, having used his positions as former Editor-In-Chief of The Sun Newspapers and President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors to feather his own nest.
Adesina should be told that no amount of political mischief will turn Governor Wike from a hero to a villain in this matter.
The Wike that I know cannot be swayed by pecuniary interests. He will always stand for the truth and defend the interests of Rivers people.
Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.
By Paulinus Nsirim
WIKE: Striving To Make Rivers State Safe
“Fundamentally, during the campaigns, we also promised to secure our State. No government is worth any value if it cannot guarantee the security of lives and property. I assure you that never for a moment will our administration be a captive of politics, when it comes to public security. We have the political will to fight, defeat crimes and criminality in Rivers State. There will be effective coordination, collaboration and synergy with the Federal Government, the law enforcement agencies and our community leaders in the prosecution of the war against cultism, kidnapping and armed robbery. We urge our people to fully co-operate with us in this direction.” – Nyesom Ezenwo Wike These were the words of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in his inaugural address to Rivers people on Friday, May 29, 2015, at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium ,Port Harcourt. Dispassionate analysts and Rivers watchers will agree that the Governor.
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