As a way of marking this year’s World Environment Day, the Association of Environmental Lawyers of Nigeria (AELN) organised an inaugural seminar and other activities in Port Harcourt recently to give meaning and expression to the global event.
It is, therefore, against this backdrop that the body has called on Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State to set machinery in motion to commence the processes of restoring Port Harcourt to its Garden City status.
The National President of AELN and Professor of Energy and Comparative Environmental Law at the Rivers State University, Prof Samuel Chisa Dike, who made the call in his address at the occasion said there is need for the Rivers State Government, which recently promised an inclusive and sustainable development trajectory, to commence the process of restoring Port Harcourt to its Garden City status, with minimal and acceptable levels of pollution to a green city which will not only attract tourists and investors but ready to promote security and welfare of citizens in tandem with the social contract between the government and the people of the State.
Dike noted that the association which was incorporated in 2019 to address all shades of environmental degradation and to raise awareness on the roles of the citizens and societies to the problems of environmental pollution, as a non-profit organisation that depends on charity, had established chapters in Bayelsa, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Borno and Ekiti States, among others.
He further indicated that the association had also established in Rivers State Environmental Clubs in some universities, colleges and Green Advocates in secondary schools with the aim of broadening the conversation of environmental advocacy by the most vulnerable in the society.
The Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Law of the Rivers State University also hinted that the association has equally carried out various awareness programmes, advocacy, radio and television talks, tree planting sessions and community mobilisation in the State as well as proposed, through its Research and Advocacy Department measures for the eradication of soot in the State, which measures were implemented by the former the former Governor Nyesom Wike administration, which he noted led to drastic reduction in illegal refining activities and pollution incidence in the State.
He said the association would very soon, in collaboration with Green peace in the United Kingdom, the International Environmental Management and Assessment, United Kingdom, National Oil Spill And Response Agency( NOSDRA); and National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency( NESREA) commence the awards of certificates to lawyers as associate members, full members, chartered members and fellows in environmental advocacy, and called on lawyers to avail themselves of the opportunity for the task of advocating for a cleaner and sustainable environment in Nigeria.
Dike described the theme of this year’s World Environment Day, “Beat Plastic Pollution”, as epochal and vital because, as he put it, plastic pollution affects both green, blue economy and sustained development of a nation, stressing that plastic pollution is dangerous and cancerous because plastics wastes are non-biodegradable.
According to him, the process of recalling of plastic wastes, recycling, reusing, rebranding and reduction of wastes caused by plastics is so economically high that most governments would prefer to look the other way than to bring polluters to book.
Also speaking, the Chief Judge of Rivers State and chairman of the occasion, Justice Simeon Amadi highlighted the need for prompt and urgent actions to be taken to address environmental pollution in the State.
Represented by a Judge of the High Court, Justice( Mrs) L. C. Thompson, Amadi said the time to address the challenges posed by environmental pollution is now.
He, however, indicated that there is need to muster the necessary political will to drive a better and cleaner environment both on the part of the government and the people, stressing that the people’s cooperation in tackling the menace is very important since, according to him, if the people do not cooperate, nothing will happen.
To actually appreciate the tremendous harm environmental pollution has inflicted and caused the State, he said people should visit hospitals and see the number of children suffering from respiratory problems, adding that creeks and mangroves in some parts of the State are worst hit, as sea foods, a major delicacy of the people are destroyed.
“The time for action is now”, he said.
On his part, the Chairman of AELN, Rivers State Branch, Barrister Simple Dioha said WED acts as a reminder for people to be more considerate and aware of the Earth’s existing conditions in terms of the environment, adding that this year’s event serves as a reminder that people’s actions regarding plastic pollution are important.
“And of course, we all know the degrading and devastating impacts of plastic wastes to the Garden City status of Port Harcourt. People must therefore take action to spread awareness about the environment and also motivate others to do same with the hope of creating a better future”, he said.
The inaugural seminar featured former Dean of the Faculty of Law of the Rivers State University, Prof Ovunda V.C.Okene; and the current Rivers State Commissioner for Education and Professor of Geography and Environmental Management, Prof Chinedu Mmom as keynote speakers.
Speaking on the topic, “Deepening Democratic Governance for an Inclusive and Sustainable Development in Rivers State: Agenda for the New Administration”, Okene spoke with candour and stressed the need for politicians to transit from being politicians to being leaders as soon as they are elected into office by running government of inclusivity.
Okene, who was represented by Dr Edwin Jonathan described former Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State as his hero for having gone beyond party politics to put in place laudable infrastructural projects across the State.
On the other hand, Prof Mmom, who spoke on the topic, “ Restoring the Garden City Status of Port Harcourt: The Case of Plastic Pollution and Management in Rivers State”, recommended the ban on use of plastic bags in Nigeria, saying, Nigeria ranks 9th in the world in terms of plastic pollution and the highest in Africa.
Represented by Associate Prof Olarenwaju Lawan, Mmom noted that plastic pollution accounts for environmental degradation in cities like Port Harcourt as plastic materials are indicriminately dumped in drainages and other places, and called for change of attitude.
The highpoints of the event were the inauguration of the Rivers State executive of the association by the Chief Judge; the launching of the association’s Environmental Law Journal; and cutting of the inaugural cake.
By: Donatus Ebi
Cleric Urges Youths To Take Care Of Their Parents
A Superintendent, Christ Army Church, City of David Cathedral, Ikot Ebidang, Onna, Akwa Ibom State, Mr David Udonsek, has tasked Nigerian youths to take care of their aged parents.
Udonsek offered the counsel in an interview with newsmen during the 3rd National Conference of the Church in Onna.
The Tide’s source reports that a sermon with the theme: “Parents Are Gates And Doors of Life”, was delivered at the conference.
Udonsek cautioned Nigerian youths against abandoning their parents at old age as such attitude usually reflect negatively on the larger society and on such children.
“A man’s door is shut immediately he or she abandons his parents.
“Children must catter for their parents because it is their responsibility to do that. In doing so, they are just reciprocating what the parents did for them from infancy into adulthood.
“Parents are gates through which everyone passes through, into this world; during labour, if a woman decides to close her legs, the child will not come out.
“Until a mother’s body is open, babies cannot find their way out into the world, either through womanhood or Caesarian Section.
“To castigate your parents as witches and wizards could cause a blockage to one’s destiny. It is a secret we have neglected. Our parents need our care just as they cattered for us during our childhood”, he said.
He advised youths to live for their parents in order to avoid walking in the dark, expressing regret that the neglect of parents was among the worst problems confronting Christian families.
He regretted that pride, self-centeredness, egoism and other bad tendencies were destroying the society, and particularly wondered why people would blame their parents for their failures in life.
“Seeing one’s parents as problems is the beginning of more problems for one”. he said.
C’River Dedicates Gov’s Tribunal Victory To People
The Government of Cross River State has dedicated the victory of the State Governor, Bassey Otu, at the governorship election petition tribunal on Tuesday to the people of the State.
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr Erasmus Ekpang, stated this while reacting to the judgment, which affirmed the election of Otu, who is of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ekpang noted that while APC remained the vehicle that brought the government to office, the party was working with the mandate that was given to it by the people.
He said the judgment did not come to him as a surprise, stressing that there was never a case before the tribunal in the first instance.
Ekpang said, “I wasn’t surprised with the eventual outcome of the petition as the issues raised were all pre-election matters.
“We are indeed glad that it has come to an end and we want to ultimately dedicate this victory to the people who gave us the mandate in the first instance.
“Having done with the judgment, I now want to call on our friends from the other side to join hands with the governor to move the state to the next level.
“The state belongs to us all and not the party that we represent. They should feel free to come forward if they have good ideas to develop Cross River”.
The tribunal, led by Justice Oken Inneh, affirmed Otu’s victory by dismissing all the reliefs sought by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Prof. Sandy Onor.
Onor and the PDP had challenged Otu’s victory in the March 18 governorship election on the ground that Otu and his deputy, Mr John Odey, were not qualified to contest the poll.
Edo 2024: Oba Blesses Guber Aspirants
The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, has said his palace remains apolitical and would always pray for political office seekers that seek his blessing and support.
The monarch spoke on Wednesday, when he received a former State Governor and APC Governorship Aspirant, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor, and a frontline Labour Party Governorship Aspirant, Mr Kenneth Imansuangbon.
The TIde’s source reports that both aspirants were at the palace at different times to ask for the Oba’s royal blessings and support.
The monarch prayed for them and wished them well in their aspirations.
The arrival of the aspirants at the palace courtyard appeared carnival-like with each accompanied by different support groups and cultural dancers.
Speaking on Osunbor’s ambition, the highly revered monarch said the capability of the former governor, who was sacked by the election petition tribunal, was not in doubt.
He promised him that a prayer team would be put in place so that he would be free from any harm and also achieve his heart desire.
Osunbor was Edo State Governor between May 2007 and November 2008 before he was removed and replaced with Sen. Adams Oshiomhole.
Earlier in a speech, he said he was Governor for a short period “so it is my desire to come back and complete my mission and also contribute in my own way to assist Your Royal Majesty in developing our state to an enviable level.
“I know it is in the interest of Your Royal Majesty that whoever is coming to govern the state should be somebody who has the interest of the state at heart and prepared to do what is required to elevate Edo to an enviable height”
He recalled that within the short period of his stay in office, he exhibited excellence in governance.
He also recalled that he initiated a successful students’ bursary scheme and ensured that pensioners were paid their pension arrears without any of them owed by his government.
Speaking on his academic brilliance, he disclosed that he graduated with First Class in Law to become the first Nigerian to achieve the feat at the University of Nigeria.
The Omo N’Oba also prayed for Imansuangbon to have a hitch-free campaign, ahead of the poll in 2024.
Imansuangbon, popularly called Riceman, told the oba that he came to seek his blessing and support as he embarked on his campaign for the poll.
He said, “As my father, there is no way I can embark on my journey to the Government House without having the blessings of my father.
“My desire to govern Edo is to bring purpose and pattern to good governance”.
He promised the royal father that his administration would be just and firm.
He gave assurance that he would welcome the wise counsel of the traditional institution on the best ways to move the state forward, when elected.
He also promised to provide adequate security for lives and property in the state through the creation of jobs for the teeming unemployed youths.
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