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We Must Clean Up Port Harcourt City

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Hon. Osima Ginah

 

 

 

On the 30th of last month, Hon. Osima Ginah, Rivers State Commissioner for Urban Development was the guest of The Tide Roundtable, a weekly personality interview progamme of the Editorial Department, Rivers State Newspaper Corporation. Many know him as Mr. “Demolition” Why?.

He pulls down illegal structures and enforces urban renewal progammes of the state government. According to him, the law has been there since 2003, but what we are doing is to put them into practice.

He fielded questions on what illegal structures are, compensation payments to owners of demolished structures, water front , issues on aborigines amongst others.

Excerpts. Read on.

How would you want people to know you?

My name, Barrister Osima Ginah.  I was born 44 years ago, precisely 1st January 1965.  I attended St Michael’s State School, Angulama where I had my First School Leaving Certificate in 1978.  I then proceeded to Kalabari National College (KNC), Buguma between 1980 and 1985.  I worked briefly in 1986 and later taught in private schools until I got a job in National Population Commission where I worked for about 10 years.  I proceeded to the College of Arts and Science, Port Harcourt where I did my IJMB there in 1993-94 and in 1994-95, I was admitted to read Law in Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Port Harcourt where I graduated in 1994 with LLB (Hon.).  I then proceeded to Nigerian Law School, Abuja and finished in 2002

I came and worked briefly with Late Dr Marshall Harry as his personal assistant for some few months.  In a view to practise my profession, I left Dr Harry and worked for about three years with a private chamber.  I started there in 2001 to 2003.  In 2004, I established my own office called Ibinabo Chambers at No. 9 Station Road Port Harcourt where I practised law for some time.

I believe I have an inner call to higher service to serve the public, so I indicated my interest to contest for Rivers State House of Assembly in Constituency II in Asari Toru Local Government Area.  Then I was a pioneer member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where I indicated my interest to contest for the House of Assembly seat, I really moved well and campaigned, but few weeks to the primaries I got information that my name had been removed from the register.  What would I be doing there?  Obviously it means that I will fail the primaries.  As a man, I took a bold decision and moved out of the party.  I resigned formally as a party member.  I sent my resignation letter to my Ward chairman who  acknowledged it, then I moved out of PDP to Action Congress (AC).  I continued my struggle to capture the seat but unfortunately, I lost the primaries. But as a determined politician I never gave up.  I fought harder.  It came to a stage I realised that politics is like sports.  If you don’t win, then you have to support whoever won the election.  So I supported my party to go into that election.  Unfortunately too we lost the election.  We lost the House of Assembly not only in my constituency but in the entire state and the governorship seat as well to PDP.  But we believe it was a stolen mandate, so we went to court.

At the time of fighting that battle, I became a useful instrument to my party.  My party was not buoyant.  It could not have paid so much millions to lawyers and so the responsibility was given to me to handle all the House of Assembly, National Assembly cases and the governorship petitions which I handled without kobo.

I was not paid.  It was still service to my party.  I enjoyed it.  I fought the battle, had so many challenges, threats to my life and inducement of money and property from the then government which I refused. But it came to a point when the Supreme Court gave the judgement and where Amaechi became a governor.  We looked at our strategy and I advised our governorship candidate that we don’t need to fight God-sent that we will not have a case.  And too we believe that we have so much to contribute and if we have genuine intention for the people of Rivers State then we can join Amaechi to contribute our quota.  And so at that point, we voluntarily withdrew our case from the Appeal Tribunal and that created opportunity for me to serve in government.    And I was called upon after some months to become a commissioner.  And my ministry, the Ministry of Urban Development was created; it was carved out of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development in December 2007.

And on the 4th of April 2008, I was called upon and sworn in as the pioneer commissioner in-charge of the Ministry of Urban Development to drive the urban renewal, planning and development policy of the state vis-a-vis the vision of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

Are you still single and searching?

No, no, no!  Like I said, I’m about 44 years and ten months and in 2001 precisely on 11th August I got married to a pretty lady who happened to be the last child, first daughter, only daughter of her parents, then she was Elijah Tiger, now Mrs. Osima Ginah.  We have two beautiful girls who look like their daddy and mummy.

And during my service as a private practitioner, I was also elected member of Nigerian Bar Association, Port Harcourt branch.  I was the pioneer assistant secretary of the branch.  I also served in various capacities at the bar.  I was a member of Human Rights Committee.  I was a member of Inter-Governmental and Legislative Committee and it actually gave me opportunity to serve.  These offices gave me a lot of experiences on whatever I am doing.

While in secondary school, I was a Prefect.  I was the Assistant House Prefect of the Wilberforce House and that gave me first test of leadership.  At that time, the Deputy Governor was the Senior Prefect of the school so the challenges of managing students particularly in hostels in my own House gave me experience in leadership.

In my community, the Angulama Community which I called the ancient town of the Kalabari Kingdom, a community where no one knows how it came to be.  Most of us in that community believed that we came down from heaven.  Our history has it that we just found ourselves there.  You know most communities there in Kalabari came from one point or the other but our community was kept by God and we found ourselves there.  We have no history of where we came from other than that place.  We were the first settlers and every other person came to meet us there.  And the language spoken by the Kalabari people is the original language of the Angulama people.  And I was a member of the Community Development Committee (CDC); once an Assistant Secretary to the CDC, Secretary of the CDC and Secretary of my community.  Up to the time of becoming a commissioner, I was the immediate past secretary of my community.  I also served in other capacities, I was the past president, Kalabari National College, KNC Buguma, 1985 set, now the president emeritus of the Kalabari National College (KNC) Old Boys Association world wide.  That’s a big responsibility on my part.  I was also the immediate past Secretary-General of the Committee of Friends Kalabari, highly responsible intellectuals of the Kalabari Kingdom.  In these various capacities that I served, I think I learnt to fit into the public service as a commissioner.

As pioneer Commissioner of the Rivers State Ministry of Urban Development, can you give us insight of what has happened in the ministry since you came on board?

Well, the Ministry of Urban Development is a ministry created as part of the vision of His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi for a desired change of the face of the city of Port Harcourt and the urban cities in Rivers State.  Before the creation of the ministry and my appointment you find out that Port Harcourt has almost turned to a garbage city.  A city where Rivers people could no longer be proud of and His Excellency saw the vision that there is need for urban renewal, there is need for development control and there is need for physical planning.  And in search for a man who he believes will key into the vision and implement that policy and here I find myself.

Like I said, presently I am a member of Action Congress, we call ourselves “Be Bold Action”, we believe that the responsibility given to us is also akin to our slogan.  When I came in as the pioneer commissioner incharge of that ministry I was the only person that was different from that ministry, there has not been new appointment other than the ministerial structure; the Permanent Secretary, Director, administration Director Finance and Director PRS.  All other departments as far as we are there are inherited.  So we looked at the vision of His Excellency, in order to implement and key into that vision we found that there has already been an existing law which is called Rivers State Physical Planning and Development Law, 2003.  The law was made when the governor was a Speaker at the Rivers State House of Assembly.

The law was designed first, it abrogated all the existing laws on physical planning, development control in Rivers State and gave the responsibility of physical planning and development control to the state government, vis-à-vis the Ministry of Urban Development.

Then as a lawyer, I studied the law and now decided to move into the field.  First, our approach is that we must clean up the city.  We looked at the city and found out that over time, the government’s inability to control development, the city has been developed, a lot of illegal structures have come up and people developed without recourse to government for approval.  The ministry has responsibility to give approval for physical and structural development.  Any form of development on land must as a matter of law be approved by the Ministry of Urban Development.  Before now, it was the Department of Urban Development in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.  Like I said, the ministry was created in December 2007 and you have this law in 2003 so when it was a department, it was that department in the ministry that would give approvals before you put anything on the land.  So we have the responsibility to monitor every development on land, we have the responsibility to plan and implement the physical planning of the state.  We have the responsibility to carry out urban renewal of the state.  Now, before the present government came on board, these responsibilities of the Ministry or the Department of Urban Development, over time showed government inability or government not having the political will to embark upon this exercise which caused the inhabitants of the state to carry out development without control and that gave rise to shanties. That gave rise to congestions, illegal structures and that gave rise to stores coming out and blocking the right of ways.

So we looked at it and said, one of the first things to do is to clean up the city of the illegal structures.  You will agree with me that Port Harcourt is a planned city.  The colonial masters, when they came in the first time, they came in, they planned the city, although Port Harcourt has now extended beyond what we know as Port Harcourt.  Now we have the Port Harcourt City Local Government Council.  We have the Obio/Akpor.  You will all agree with me that all the areas covered by Port Harcourt City Local Government were planned.  Diobu was planned.  Ogbunabali was planned; GRA Phase I and 2 were all planned.  We have up to GRA Phase 8, Amadi Flat, Town and Borikiri were all planned areas.

So we looked at the plan and said okay we have in some areas established fence lines.  If you build outside the fence line, your property becomes illegal structure.  But don’t forget that we also have situations where government because of favouritism has aided some persons to build where they are not supposed to build.  Some areas that are sanitary lanes, government has given Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) for people to build in such areas where they are not supposed to build.  And the law said once a structure is declared illegal structure, you demolish and government will not pay compensation. But where government has aided such person since you have Certificate of Occupancy to build in such areas where you are not supposed to build; equitable principle demands that you have to pay compensation.  So we mapped out our strategies, looked at the plan, looked at the law and moved to the field.  There and then, we started demolishing illegal structures.  You can now stand from one end of the street and see the other end of the street because of the openings.  Depending on the plan you have 3,4,5 metres or 10 metres away from the edge of the road some from the centre spread of the road.  Now all those that protrude outside their fence line were all demolished as illegal structures.  Now some areas of sanitary lanes that were built where they are not supposed to build we also demolished them. But where there are claims and judgment or approval we never hesitated by recommending for payment of compensation because it is His Excellency’s prerogative but not without exercising judicially and judiciously.  What I mean by judicially and judiciously is that it must be in accordance with the provisions of the law.

To be continued

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Discovering Your Life’s Purpose

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What is Purpose?
Discovering one’s purpose is discovering what one needs in life. Discovering what you are meant to be in life. Not what you want to be but what God wants you to be in life. You can never discover your purpose without the help of God.
Ask Yourself Some Questions
You can discover your purpose when you start asking yourself some questions and give answers to such as “what do I need in life?” (Your purpose in life) by finding your purpose, you will know what you need in life and life will be easy for you. Sometimes, we want every good thing in life but what really matters is not what you want but what you need in life. People respect you when you discover your purpose and start making serious decisions. God is your creator and what he needs from you is your purpose. Discovering your purpose on time makes you more successful in life, you need to focus on the present, look forward, think big, do what you love, stay positive, be persistent, get the job done, fight for something you believe in. To be a successful being in life, you also need to manage your time effectively.
Sometimes, people find themselves doing or studying what they don’t need. Your potentials determine your purpose in life, don’t feel bad on yourself because, with the right information, your purpose is sure. You will get to a place in life and these things will be very useful to you.
Nothing happens as a mistake; they all have their purpose to fulfill in life. Spend at least one hour or thirty minutes every day to do what you have passion for.
Time Management
Time management has a very big role to play in discovering one’s purpose in life. Why most people suffer a lot in life is because they waste too much of their time doing nothing. We sleep too much; we rest too much; let’s make every moment to be useful. Sleeping too much won’t do us any good. Push yourself because no one else is going to do it for you. The fact that you are not where you want to be should be enough motivation.
Life without purpose is time without meaning. It is useless to keep ample time if there is no end towards which we are moving. God calls you in this world for you to discover your purpose and work towards it. Your plans cannot change God’s purpose. What God calls for, he provides for.
Sometimes people will say I want to be rich in life. If you said so, fine, then learn how to manage your time and discover your purpose in life. Most times, our parents do destroy our destiny by forcing us to study what we are not meant to just because they had a dream of studying it but were not opportuned to. Parents should ask knowledge from God so as to know what their children need in life.
Procrastination can damage you from going far in life. To be successful and fulfill your purpose in life, you need not to postpone what should be done now. Procrastination is a grave in which opportunities are buried. In life, many people have missed their chance of success because of postponement.
All the pain of yesterday can be forgotten tomorrow if we know how to manage our time effectively and discover our purpose in life. For your management of time not to be in vain, you need to concentrate on one thing such as what you love to do, because it is no good to do everything at the same time (he who is everywhere is nowhere).
Everybody wants to go to school, have their certificates, and be a hard worker in life. But is that all there is in life? Imagine if everyone in the universe goes to school, have their good certificates and work in very good places in life, then who will be the cleaner? Who will be the security guard? Who will be the house maid? How you see life is much more than you think. Purpose is only found in the mind of the creator. Only God knows the purpose for your life.
Now you can see why everybody cannot be rich in this life; neither will everyone be poor in life. The term rich would not exist if there are not poor people existing in this world. The terms rich and poor are given because people have and people lack.
You can never change how you have been created and what you have been created for no matter what. You being a cleaner is because there must always be someone dusting up the place. If there is a man to dust, there will always be a man to clean up also. If your purpose is to be a cleaner, be the best cleaner ever. Cleaning is not just ordinary, you can achieve excellence in cleaning. Excellence in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.
Every product is produced by purpose, for a purpose, and all things begin and end with purpose. Your existence is an evidence that this generation needs something that your life contains.
The reason why you exist in your family is because there is something that has to be done in your family and it’s only you that can do it; no one else. If you are born into a poor family it’s not your fault, but it will only be your fault if you remain there, because you have been born in to a family to make great things happen by managing your time and discovering your purpose in life.
You can start by having a time table in your house such as time to study, time to do what you love, what you have passion for. And in the process of studying, anything you seem not to understand, you do well to ask someone that knows it more than you. Don’t feel shy to ask because no one knows everything but everyone knows something.
You can also help others to discover their purpose by changing your mindset, especially with the way you think and the way you communicate with them. Let people see you as a person that really knows your purpose in life. Let people see your good lifestyle and try to build theirs also.
Always do things at the right time. Or better do something even if it is late than not to do it at all. Conclusively, a man can’t exist without having a purpose in life, your existence is an evidence that God has a purpose in you and this purpose can be discovered with the help of God, and also by management of time. I know we can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone. We can change the world by fulfilling our purpose in life. Nothing is impossible.

By: Endurance Osadebe
Osadebe wrote in from Eastern Polytechnic, Port Harcourt.

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Re: Wike, Combat And Cant: Negative Criticism Taken Too Far

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Our attention has been drawn to the article published in the “Hardball” column of The Nation Newspaper on Tuesday, September 28, 2021, titled: “Wike, Combat and Cant” and we cannot help but laugh once again at the manic obsessiveness, which the author of this particular ‘Hardball’ segment, has with everything that has to do with Governor Nyesom Wike.
However, what is rather very disturbing in this constant display of professional mercantilism and the unrestrained effort to mislead the people and misinterpret every action and comment of Governor Wike.
One must say, it is rather shameful for a journalist to resort to the penchant of subtle, yet crude and dangerous slander, to attack anybody who dares to challenge the status quo.
Governor Wike’s remarks at the Interdenominational Thanksgiving Service in commemoration of the Nation’s 61st Independence Anniversary, at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Diobu, Port Harcourt, on Sunday, September 26, 2021, represents the heart cry of every patriotic Nigerian.
Those who listened to his comments, will also agree that the summary of what Governor Wike said was that enemity, hatred, division have become the definining indices of Nigeria today at 61 years.
He said Nigeria is a dysfunctional nation, where the judiciary has been intimidated, children are not in schools and doctors not in hospitals as a result of endless strikes. According to him, credible elections cannot be conducted and the National Assembly has become a place where anything goes in favour of the government in power, even if it is not in the interest of the people.
Sadly, only Nigerians who are feeding fat from such a country and indeed journalists like the author with his obvious anti-libertarian counter progressive propaganda, which promote and protect the interest of these individuals, will disagree with Governor Wike’s observations and even go ahead to cast puerile aspersion with pedestrian examples on his comments.
Suffice it to say that at a time when majority of Nigerians have been numbed into a development hiatus by the overwhelming suffocation of poverty, censorship, insecurity, nepotism, administrative ineptitude and a certain form of political autocracy which have all been elevated dangerously to statecraft and existential norm, a journalist who should professionally serve as the voice and conscience of the people has become the very instrument to justify these anti-development onslaught on the people.
What is even more worrisome is the realization that the author, rather than raise alarm over the deliberate polarization of the country along all the major incendiary fault lines of ethnicity, religion, partisan seclusion, intimidation and persecution, selective inquisitions and all the divisive tendencies which have sadly reversed all the gains made over 61 years, has now embraced the fifth column business of hounding those who speak up against these ills.
To even describe Governor Wike’s comments during that interdenominational church service, as “combat and cant’ as the writer did with misplaced elitist authority, is so unfortunate that it shamelessly exposed the real hypocrisy of a journalist and his sponsors, who are not only living in regrettable, unpardonable denial, but are the very dangerous ilk who are constantly and deliberately subverting national consciousness and turning the glaring truth of what Nigeria has become, on its head.
It is indeed a crying shame that we have in the last six years, transformed quite pathetically, into a nation where for example, state Governors, whose voices ought to be resonating loudly against the impunity that undermines our democratic federalism, have been brow-beaten into a complicit silence, as we watch in helpless horror, the systematic regression and overhaul of a nation’s development garnered painstakingly over 61 years.
Nigeria has never been more divided at any time in its 61 years history than it is today. The country is presently in a dangerous connundrum of identity crises stoked and fuelled by the continued endorsement and justification of leadership impunity and docility by the likes of the writer. Is it any wonder therefore that Governor Wike’s voice is the only one resonating loudly, clearly and independently against these manifestation, as we celebrate the auspicious occasion of our independence as a country that is 61 years old?
Ironically, even many of the leaders who have chosen to couch these desperate times in hopeful platitudes, celebrate the reversal of national essence with choice phrases and pretend with motivational innuendos that a nation which totters precariously on the brink of self implosion and immolation, is making progress, know deep down in their hearts that they are lying to their people.
Governor Wike has proven time and again that he is a courageous, bold, focused and determined leader, who will say a thing like it is and not address it by any other name, just to sound politically correct and please some people.
By the way, at the end of his exhortation, Governor Wike called on the congregation, with the permission of the Church, to join him and the choir to sing the first and last stanzas of the Hymn, SSS 577: “I need Thee Every Hour”. This was indeed quite apt and poignant, to capture the mood and state of affairs in our country today.
There’s definitely no doubt whatsoever that Nigeria needs help at this time in our nation’s evolution, as we celebrate 61 years of Independence.

Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.

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Soot: Can N’Delta Escape Doomsday?

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A popular saying in Nigeria’s ‘Pidgin’ English states: ‘Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop’. It simply means that while the monkey (which is usually smaller in size than the baboon) is working very hard to eke out a living for itself, the baboon uses its larger figure to intimidate the monkey and survive from the proceeds of the monkey’s efforts. This, in a nutshell, explains the plight of the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
The import of this popular saying in the context of this discourse is that while the Niger Delta Region produces the crude oil, which has been the mainstay of the country for over sixty years, and also bears the brunt of oil exploration and exploitation activities, the northern part of the country, which views leadership of the country as its birthright, enjoys more from the proceeds of crude oil.
Much have been said and written by different people, including scholars, about the plight of the people of the Niger Delta in Nigeria, such that at some point, one may easily feel saturated, and possibly irritated, out of a feeling of over-information that now sounds hackneyed.
But the truth is that, from the point at which crude oil was first found in commercial quantity at Oloibiri, in present-day Bayelsa State, in Nigeria, till today, the life of the people in the Niger Delta region has never been the same. Rather than be a source of development to the people in all spheres as it is with the advanced climes, some of which do not have the quality of crude oil the region has, it has been a source of clear dehumanisation of the people.
The apparent euphoria that greeted the discovery of crude oil in the Niger Delta region of the country in anticipation of its implication in terms of what the people stand to benefit as host communities, at inception, soon gave way to nostalgic chronic acrimonious feelings as the days turned to weeks, months, years and now decades.
Perhaps what would amount to an inkling of what is now the fate of the people of the region today was the February 23, 1966 declaration of the Niger Delta Republic in what has become known as The Twelve-Day Revolution’ by the late Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro, nicknamed Boro.
Boro’s grouse was the exploitation of oil and gas resources in the Niger Delta areas which benefited mainly the Federal Government of Nigeria and, at the time, the Eastern Region with capital in Enugu, while nothing was given to the Niger Delta people. He believed that the people of the Niger Delta deserved a larger share of proceeds from the oil wealth.
Consequently, he formed the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF), an armed militia with members consisting mainly of his fellow Ijaw ethnic group. They declared the Niger Delta Republic on that day and fought with Federal forces for twelve days before being defeated. Boro and his comrades were jailed for treason.
They were, however, granted amnesty by the Federal regime of General Yakubu Gowon on the eve of the Nigerian Civil War in May 1967 on the condition that they fight for the Federal Government against the Biafrans. Boro, and some of his comrades, most prominently Owunaro, his second in command in the NDVF, subsequently enlisted in the Nigerian Army.
Boro was commissioned as a Major in the Nigerian Army. He fought on the side of the Federal Government, but was killed under mysterious circumstances in active service in 1968 at Ogu (Okrika) in Rivers State.
But the struggle Boro started has taken different dimensions in the Niger Delta ever since, with seemingly less impact as far as the Federal Government’s response to the demands of the region is concerned. It’s such that after over sixty years of oil exploration and exploitation in the region, all the people have to show is what amounts to deliberate and planned, but gradual destruction of their sources of livelihood, leading to a life of penury, underdevelopment, and currently a possible end to their lives through endemic illnesses such as cancer and like ailments warranted by their exposure to the ravaging soot in the region.
Soot is a mixture of very fine black or brown particles created by the product of incomplete combustion. It is primarily made up of carbon, but it can also contain trace amounts of metals, dust, and chemicals. It is different from charcoal and other by-products of combustion because it is so fine. These tiny particles may be under 2.5 micrometers in diameter which is smaller than dust, mold, and dirt particles.
Beyond artisanal refining, possible causes of the soot also include emissions from asphalt factories, indiscriminate burning of mixed waste, burning of tyres and vehicular emissions, according to a Report by a technical team set up by the Rivers State Government in 2019, to generate preliminary air quality data in Port Harcourt. However, none of these has so infested the region’s cloud with soot as illegal oil bunkering.
Experts say that the small size of soot is what makes it so dangerous for humans and pets, because it can easily be breathed deep into the small passageways of the lungs, which is why repeated exposure to soot is linked to respiratory illnesses, heart disease, and cancer. Soot is, therefore, more than just an unsightly nuisance. It is a danger that cannot be left in the home or environment.
In 2017, a reporter, Yomi Kazeem, wrote, “Across Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger-Delta region, environmental pollution has long been a part of daily lives. But while residents have become used to multiple oil spills which have damaged livelihoods and farmlands, they currently face a new kind of danger: rising black soot particles in the air. Since November, residents of oil industry hub city, Port Harcourt, are complaining about increased soot residue on surfaces in and out of their homes”.
Back then, Nigeria’s Ministry of Environment declared an air pollution emergency in the affected areas. The Ministry claimed that preliminary test samples of the soot indicated it was caused by incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons as well as asphalt processing and illegal artisanal refinery operations.
In a bid to curb the pollution, Kazeem stated, the Ministry shut down an asphalt processing plant operating in the area. The State Government has also sealed off a Chinese company in the city for what it tagged ‘aggravated air pollution, and breach of environmental laws’.
On their part, residents petitioned the United Nations Environment Programme to intervene by investigating the problem while they subtly protested the increased pollution on social media, through the “#StopTheSoothashtag”.
Since then, the best that has been heard about addressing the issue of soot in the Niger Delta had been what can be easily dismissed as subtle complaints on social media by few concerned individuals and organisations involved in environmental health pursuits. Thus, the quantity of particles forming soot that is emitted into the air on a daily basis has increased almost unabated.
For the Federal and State Governments, their efforts so far had been at best mere media hypes in a make-belief establishment of modular refineries in the Niger Delta, which the Federal Government also wants established in the north that does not produce oil, like it did in building refinery in Kaduna State, an act widely viewed as misplacement of priority as far as establishment of modular refineries as a solution to soot is concerned.
In 2013, scientists found out that dirty air caused more premature deaths than unsafe water, unsafe sanitation, and malnutrition in Africa. The obvious implication is that if the Niger Delta is increasingly infested with soot and genuine necessary steps are not taken to check it, the region will most likely go extinct in years to come. The form this will take, and how soon it will manifest are the questions that currently prop up in critical analyses.
During one of such analyses, an environmental toxicologist with the Department of Animal and Environmental Biology, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Dr. Emmanuel Oriakpona, hinted that the most likely consequence of unchecked increase in soot infestation in the Niger Delta is loss of the region’s ecosystem and human health.
“We shall experience loss of our ecosystem and loss of our health. This is the summary of what will happen to us: major loss in our ecosystem. If you go to the mangroves and see the devastation by crude oil, and you also go and see what the people actually carrying out the refining process are going through, you’ll appreciate this better,” he said.
According to Dr. Oriakpona, the situation is worsened by the fact that there is an obvious collaboration between those involved in artisanal refining of crude oil and authorities vested with the responsibility of stopping it. The reason is that such authorities are rewarded with huge financial benefits accruable from the business. This is further buttressed by some key players in the illegal oil refining business whose locally made boats and products were at some points burnt by security agents who felt that their exploitation of the people involved in the illegal trade was challenged.

By: Soibi Max-Alalibo

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