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Citizens appraise Wike’s directive to LG chairmen on soot

By Ann Godwin, Rivers
04 January 2022   |   2:56 am
The directive by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, to council chairmen, particularly the Port Harcourt City Council boss to shut down illegal refining sites to stop the soot plaguing

Wike. Photo/ facebook/GovernorNyesomEzenwoWikeCON

The directive by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, to council chairmen, particularly the Port Harcourt City Council boss to shut down illegal refining sites to stop the soot plaguing the state is attracting diverse reactions from environmentalists and various stakeholders.

An environmentalist, Nnimmo Bassey, said if security agencies could not stop the soot, it would be difficult for council bosses to end it.

But some residents said if council bosses carry out the directive effectively, it would achieve a result, describing the move as apt.

A resident, Mr. Friday Amadi, described the governor’s action as coming late, saying residents had grappled with soot for about five years.

The governor had, in his 2022 New Year’s message, directed all council chairmen and community leaders to locate, identify and report to his office all those behind illegal bunkering and crude oil refining sites in their localities for prosecution.

Soot was noticed in Port Harcourt City Council in 2016 and has continued to escalate on daily basis due to the alleged complicity of security agencies in the illicit business as well as youths seeing it as a lucrative venture and the government’s unwillingness to address the menace.

Speaking with The Guardian, Bassey said: “If the police, air force, military and navy are not able to stop this, with what tools will local government use to tackle the soot menace? It must be frustrating to the governor to have the deadly soot crisis in the state and to be unable to stop it.”

The environmentalist, however, said it was perplexing that the Federal Government and its security apparatus were unwilling to address the issue heads on.

He said: “The Federal Government has a central role to play here. We are talking about the lives of millions of Nigerians. The Federal Government is still silent over the issue that is a very big health threat to Rivers people and the Niger Delta and the country. Soot is already seen in Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom states. Delta State was the first to be exposed to the hazard. This problem will spread if not tackled now by all levels of governments working together.”

He, however, called for a comprehensive and collective action in tackling oil theft and urged the government to provide work for people who are ready to work, arguing that, the illegal activity wouldn’t be a thriving business if there were jobs for citizens.