Port Harcourt — Rivers State residents and the Civil Liberty Organisations (CLO) yesterday staged a protest seeking an end to the soot menace.The protesters, including women, children, youths and the elderly, worried by the unending 'black soot' in the state and its deadly effects on human lives, marched from Isaac Boro Park as early as 8:00 a.m. to Government House, Port Harcourt and the State House of Assembly demanding a clean air to breath.
The leader of Stop-the-Soot Campaign, Tunde Bello, while presenting a 12-point demand protest letter to the state government, said it is time for government to prioritise the issue of environment, adding that millions of Rivers residents risk cancer diseases, among others, if the soot is not urgently stopped.He also stressed the need for the state government to conduct an environmental audit on all the oil-bearing communities and the operations going on in such areas.
"The concerned citizens of Rivers State under the aegis of Stop-the-Soot Campaign and Civil Liberty Organisations are worried about the soot that has ravaged the state. "We want the government to prioritise issues of environment and do a supplementary budget for the Ministry of the Environment."We want Governor Wike to compel the local councils to implement sanitation laws in their domains. We want the governor to make the local councils use their security votes to monitor environmental issues.
"There should be a street-to-street health campaign and awareness on the health issue by local councils and various stakeholders," Bello said.The residents further asked the governor to lead a bi-partisan campaign on behalf of the state and its citizens.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Governor of the state, Dr. Ipilibo Banigo, who received the protest letter on behalf of Wike, promised that the letter would be forwarded to the governor for immediate attention.
Banigo said: "I have received your write-up and request directed to Governor Nyesom Wike. I want to assure you that your request will be looked into."The environment cannot be politicised. We want to tell you that the agencies that are flaring this obnoxious thing are directly under the control of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Federal Government owns the refineries that flare gas." and the security agencies that have been using uncivilised methods to destroy bunkering."For us as a responsible government, we will always collaborate with the Federal Government to see that the matter concerning environment are taking seriously. Let us also advise our people in the creeks to shun illegal refining."