Death Is Enveloping Rivers State

By Ikenga Chronicles December 12, 2016

Death Is Enveloping Rivers State

A heavy cloud bearing death has begun to envelop Rivers State, especially the city of Port Harcourt. This time around, it hasn’t come in the form of gunshots, bombs,any other physically violent way, or even elections (as Ebenezar Wikina will say, “there is more to [Port Harcurt] than brooms and umbrellas). Rather, it floats in the most tender of ways mixing with the air inhabitants breathe, and leaving physical evidence in the form of heavy dark soot on surfaces in the morning.

It seems that finally, the several years of operation of artisan refineries, bombing of pipelines, gas flaring, and wanton carbon emissions by corporate bodies and individuals have finally begun to catch up with the people.

Every morning, when inhabitants wake up and come outside, they are confronted with the harsh reality that surfaces of cars, rooftops, or even water left outside now have dark soot covering them–swipe your hand on any surface, and what you see is what is captured in the picture above. Then, they realise that for the soot to have settled on those surfaces, quite some quantity would have mixed with the very air they have been breathing, and settled on lungs.

This development has led to so many people now calling out to the government to immediately find a solution, while pleading that medical experts quickly provide answers on the health implications of what they are experiencing.

Last week, in reaction, the Rivers State Ministry of Environment, through the commissioner Professor Roseline Konya, released a statement part of which reads;

“It has come to the notice of the State Government of the sudden appearance of strange black soot deposits noticeably seen on cars and rooftops in our environment especially in Port Harcourt and its environs. The public is hereby advised not to panic…”

But panic is what we do best especially when death has begun to stare us in the face. For years however, we have contributed magnanimously to the destruction of our environment. We had watched and sometimes supported the blowing up of pipelines; gas flaring, flagrant deforestation; and contributed our own quota of carbon dioxide emission through generator fumes (although one wonders what else we would have done since our so called government cannot provide us with electricity).

What is important to note is how all of a sudden we are awake to the fact that by not taking care of our environment, we have invariably exposed ourselves to health hazards that will not only affect us, but possibly future generations. We are suddenly aware and as usual, we seek quick fixes to the problem.

The truth is, issues concerning the environment have never been taken seriously by Nigerians. We have somehow always looked at them like alien gibberish. I remember having a discussion with the House Committee Chairman on Climate Change, Rep. Sam Onuigbo and he pointed out that when he took the position he was shocked to find out that most of the Ministries (like Transportation and Environment) that should be at the forefront of fighting climate change issues knew absolutely nothing about them! That is the reality of our country, and today, we face the more tragic reality that except if something is urgently done, we may be on the path to painful death, and Rivers State is not alone.

Here then is where all of us come in; most of our people are blissfully unaware of the dangers of environmental degradation. The big ask, is that it is time we started intensive campaigns that will educate our people on the dangers of destroying our environment, while educating them on the right protective actions to take. Government too should be held accountable and made to enforce policies that ensure that Nigeria meets her Intended National Determined Contributions with regards to her commitments to global climate change policies.

It may be a big ask, but the time to sit on the fence (or worse, be blissfully uncaring) is over. Death is floating around Rivers State, and it may come to your state or city soon. If we do not protect our environment, its destruction will destroy us and our children.

 

 

Photo Credit: MVP Connect

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