John Iwori
Apparently not pleased with the refusal of President Mohammadu Buhari and Governor Nyesom Wike to address the lingering soot that hovers over Port Harcourt and its environment over a year ago, a group called Stop the Soot Campaign has taken its case to the United Nations (UN).
In a petition address to the Secretary General of the UN, the non-governmental organisation (NGO) said: “We make this petition as affected and concerned citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, residing and doing business in Port Harcourt”.
Titled “Must the World Continue to Look Away while We Die”, the NGO wondered why the Federal and the Rivers State Government have not deemed it fit to address the menace posed by the Port Harcourt soot,
The NGO which has Eugene Abels as the Lead Convener presented several documents and findings from several authorities to buttress its demand for immediate resolution of the Port Harcourt soot.
Our cry for help:
The prevalence of active ingredients of Carcinogens in the atmosphere of Port Harcourt is a crisis waiting to happen and Nigeria lack the facilities to diagnose, manage or treat the kind of ailments that will abound on a grand scale if this is not nipped in the bud.
We are aware that the United Nations and its agencies respect the sovereignty of nations by always dealing with the people through their governments. Thus even when projects and alarms are raised by the agencies of the United Nations, sometimes these efforts are swept under the table by these governments. Our position is further reinforced by the silence of the United Nations and its agencies over the pollution of the atmosphere in Port Harcourt and the state of implementation of the UNEP report on Ogoni despite having physical official representation in Rivers State. The question is: who should matter, the lives of the powerless children, women and men or the egos of the transient political actors that manage the affairs of government at a point in time?
We are persuaded by the general principles governing your organization and agencies and cite some of them:

  • United Nations is: “To foster worldwide cooperation in solving economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems.
  • World Health Organization is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health. Health, as defined in the WHO Constitution, is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
  • And the UNEP and UNDP are programed to avert crisis and discourage practices that will endanger the future generations.

We come under this umbrella to solicit your immediate intervention to help save us from this avoidable catastrophe. It is our belief that your timely intervention will avert a potential health crisis not too long from now. If our appeal is ignored, at least history will remember that we did all we could for our children and the unborn generations.
Our Prayers:

  1. We are calling on the United Nations to urgently declare Rivers State as an “Environmental Disaster Zone”: the agency to fund an environmental audit of the state in conjunction with this group, civil society, Rivers State government and Federal government of Nigeria.
  2. That the world Health Organization in partnership with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Nigeria (Doctors Without Borders), Nigeria Medical Association, Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria and the Federal ministry of health and the Rivers State Ministry of Health to synergize and begin the mining and collation of data in the state about the wellbeing of residents of the state.
  3. If spikes or trend are discovered for ailments that measures are immediately put in place to contain treat and contain them.
  4. A massive door to door public health campaign to be pursued and monitored for the purpose of educating all and sundry with a detailed presentation of the consequences of injecting sub-micron particulate matter into atmosphere and the multiplier effect of patronizing these products.
  5. That the UN through its agencies avail daily Air Quality Index (AQI)  or readings for the city of Port Harcourt and environs; these readings will be carried at no cost by the 18 radio stations and four television stations in Rivers State.
  6. The establishment of inexpensive air quality reading sites backed by the appointment of voluntary United Nations whistle blowing Marshalls spread across the 23 local government areas of Rivers State for the purpose of reporting the activities of illegal artisanal refineries will put the operators and security agencies in check and eventually curb these activities.
  7. We are appealing that the United Nations through the World Health Organization should facilitate the provision of affordable Oncology test kits or facilities for the citizenry particularly for children, the aged and pregnant women.
  8. The acceptance of the United Nation to intervene will attract other institutional stakeholders to support the cause.
  9. That an MOU be signed with the International Oil Companies that will indemnify them for this project so that they can bring their scientific expertise and resources to bear in the mining of data.
  10. A call for the Federal Government of Nigeria and the other tiers of government to stop receiving payments for gas flared and give a specific date for stopping of this obnoxious practice.

Thank you
Tunde Bello                                                          Eugene Abels
Convener                                                                 Lead Convener


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