In a few hours from now, the entire world will bid goodbye to the year 2020, which in some circles is described as a twin year.
According to some social media influencers, Nostradamus, the great and revered futurist, had centuries ago predicted about a lady arising from the East and destroying a country of the 20 hills.
It is now accepted in some quarters that the so-called Nostradumus twine year is 2020, and the lady from the East is the Coronavirus popularly known as the COVID-19.
So, as the year 2020 comes to an end in the next few hours, what will the year be remembered for.
Of course, the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic is one thing that generations will talk about for a long time to come.
The Coronavirus pandemic is not peculiar to Rivers State alone, but Rivers State was shut down just like other parts of this world.
The economy of the state was badly affected and even the resurgence of the second wave of the virus is raising serious concerns among residents of the state.
In the year under review, the state joined the rest of the world to celebrate the World Earth Day. The World Earth Day is celebrated April every year across the world.
The World Toilet Day was also celebrated in Rivers State. The World Toilet Day is celebrated 19th November every year across the world.
The theme for this year’s celebration was “Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change.”
In the area of the monthly environmental sanitation, a lot of activities also took place.
However, the greatest calamity of all proportions within the period under review was the issue of flooding.
According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the entire Orashi region of Rivers State was flooded this year as well as few local government areas in other parts of the state.
In Ahoada West Local Government Area, the entire Engenni Kingdom was submerged.
In Ubie Kingdom also in Ahoada West, most communities were submerged with one life reportedly lost, while in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area, three lives were reportedly lost to the flood in Omoku community, while houses, farmlands and other properties worth millions of Naira were reportedly destroyed by the flood.
The situation was the same in Ndoni, Egbema, Egi, Abua/Odual and Ahoada East.
Flood also wreaked havoc in some coastal local government areas of Andoni, Opobo/Nkoro, Akuku Toru, Bonny and Asari Toru local government areas.
Also in the year under review, Rivers State Government took steps to check the proliferation of illegal oil refineries popularly known as “kpofire” with the view to checking the effect of the black soot.
A committee to workout modalities for the establishment of modular refineries was set up by the state government.
At a seminar, at the Delta Hotel, Port Harcourt, the committee explained that the proposed modular refineries, when established, will impart necessary skills to the people as well as curtail the damaging effect of the “kpofire” business which is not only illegal, but destructive to the environment.
It also urged those involved in the illegal business to form cooperatives to enable them benefit from government good intention in this direction.
Also in the year under review, the Rivers State Government signed a contract for the Obio/Akpor and Port Har-court Water Scheme, while the water project executed by the state government in conjunction with the European Union (EU) under the Niger Delta Support Scheme was commissioned at Opobo.
The state also joined in the celebration of the World Water Day.
Meanwhile, Rivers people have been speaking of their expectations in the environment sector in the upcoming New Year.
A cross section of Rivers people, who spoke in an interview with The Tide called on the government to be more proactive.
They called for regular sanitation exercises while the environmental aspect that concerns the COVID-19 protocols such as regular hand-washing with soap and running water be strictly enforced.
They also demanded for the dredging of the Orashi river to check the perennial flooding in that part of the local government area.
Speaking with The Tide, the former Chief Medical Director of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), Dr Uriah Etawo said the people of Engenni and the entire Orashi region expect the Mbiama or Orashi river to be dredged.
Etawo said the perennial flooding in the area has cost the people lots of lives and property.
Also speaking, the Okan Ama of Ataba Kingdom, Andoni Local Government Area, King Benson Mgbowaji Egwenre said the kingdom expects both the state and federal governments to embark on shore protection in coastal communities in the state to check coastal erosion and flooding.
He spoke to The Tide during the distribution of relief materials by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), to victims of this year’s flood disaster in the kingdom.
In his remarks, the Eze Igbu Ubie of Ubie Kingdom, Ahoada West Local Government Area, Eze Maxwell Okokiri said efforts should be made by the various levels of government in the country to end the perennial flooding in the area.
On his part, an Environmentalist, Miss Ene Blessing Digbani said a monitoring system to reduce pollution should be put in place.
According to her, government should put in place measures to ensure that carbon emission is reduced to World Health Organisation (WHO) standard.
“The biggest problem is climate change. So government should step up the game to fight climate change.”
The environmentalist also called for the Polluters Pay Principle to be applied in the case of corporate organisations which pollute the environment daily.
She called on the people to embrace renewable energy and stop the use of firewood as it is dangerous to the environment.
Also commenting, Prince Williams Chinwo, who is also an environmentalist called for planting of more trees in the upcoming year.
“I anticipate more tree planting, cleaning of the internal waterways or rivers, strict observation of sanitation laws to enforce domestic environmental protection and sanitary regulations,” he said.
Also speaking, Mrs Nancy Iheduru said she expects more people to adhere to the State Waste Management Laws, as it is the only way to check wastage in the environment sector.
Iheduru also called for more enforcement against indiscriminate dumping of refuse in drainages and water channels.
We’re Hopeful Of Passage Of Water Resources Bill -Minister
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.
Community Residents Flay Dumping Of Sachets, Bottles In Drainages
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
UNESCO Laments Impending Collapse Of Biodiversity …Says Human Survival At Risk
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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