• Accuses govt of depopulating Rivers
Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has accused the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government of deliberately planning to eliminate a greater percentage of the state’s population, by its alleged failure to act on the soot and its primary causes.
The governor said the attorney general has been directed to sue the federal government and International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in the state, over the soot pollution.
Addressing a delegation of the United Nations (UN), yesterday, at the Government House, Port Harcourt, during a meeting to tackle the soot, Wike called on the UN to prevail on the federal government to act on the soot pollution.
He said: “We thank the United Nations for its concern on Rivers’ environment as it relates to the soot.
“If we must move on, we must situate the cause of the soot and the fact that the federal government has decided to make sure a greater percentage of the state dies.
“The federal government wants to eliminate a greater percentage of the state. The problem of soot is not caused by the Rivers State government. It is caused by federal agencies,” he said.
The governor said the federal government and its agencies were practically damaging the environment by their illegal activities.
“The Rivers State government does not own companies that refine crude. We have made representations to the federal government and her agencies on the issue of soot, to no avail.
“We have called on the security agencies to find more refined ways of destroying the illegal refineries. We have informed the National Council of Environment, the military and all federal regulatory agencies. But, they are not interested in intervening,” Wike said.
The governor further alleged that the refusal of the federal government to act on all data supplied on the soot is a deliberate ploy to make Rivers people suffer health hazards, which would lead to untimely deaths.
“We want the international community to come to our aid and prevail on the federal government not to politicise environmental issues. We are ready to work with the international community to address this challenge.
“All the federal government is doing is to chase shadows, organising people to protest. Until they stop politicising very serious issues and focus on governance, we will head nowhere,” he said.
He reiterated that the soot is non-discriminatory, as it affects everyone, irrespective of status and political affiliation. He said the Rivers state government has taken all necessary steps, pointing out that the remaining steps are domiciled with the federal government.
Wike said: “I have directed the attorney general to brief an environmental lawyer to sue the federal government and the international oil companies, over the issue of soot.”
He wondered why the federal government would withdraw $1 billion for security challenge and not withdraw same amount for environmental challenge in the Niger Delta. He alleged that the $1 billion withdrawn by the federal government was mainly for election purposes and not for security.
Leader of the United Nations delegation, Charles Ekong, appreciated the steps already taken by the Rivers government.
He said the mission of the delegation was investigative in nature, to determine a lasting solution to the soot challenge in the state.