It’s been two years since the appearance of the poisonous sub-micron particulate substance, generally known as “Soot” in the atmosphere in Rivers State, a 250-page petition have been signed by residents of the state to the United Nations (UN).
Rivers State residents gathered at a summit held in Port Harcourt, by two non-governmental organizations (Stop-the-Soot Campaign and We-the-People) leading the campaign to put an end to soot in the state. They said the relunctancy of the Nigerian government to look into the matter have not been fair Rivers state residents.
At the event, Eugene Abels, Convener of Stop-the-Soot Campaign said;
“The decision to sign the petition followed the refusal of UN to respond to the previous petition sent to the organization more than one month ago.
He said, “For best practice, when you receive a letter, you acknowledge it. How can United Nations, over a month not acknowledge letters sent to them? Or the World Health Organization?
“It bothers on the realm of irresponsibility for such an international organisation funded by international funds not to respond to save people’s lives.
“The Rivers State government have started it. Last week, we also attended a summit on environment. They are collaborating with the Nigerian Medical Association.
“The laws on environment are federal in nature, regulators are federal in nature, the security agencies are federal in nature. The federal government is supposed to lead the task but they have been grossly irresponsible.
“The people we pay salaries to, which include the President, the Vice President and the security agencies should do their job and stop the stealing of petroleum products. Once it is stopped, there will be no artisan refineries to cause the soot.
“We are signing the petition to tell the United Nations to respond to what we have raised. They are here in Port Harcourt; they must respond to it. If they fail to respond, we are going to New York.”
The group is disappointed, at the attitude of the Nigerian government towards eradicating soot in the state,the leader of We-the-People, Ken Henshaw, said.
“This event is to call for global attention to climate change. We cannot discuss climate change and fossil fuel on Rivers State without talking about Soot. We feel terribly disappointed that government at local, state and federal levels have deliberately refused to act on this issue.
“No reasonable government will allow its people to breath poisonous cancer-causing hydrocarbon soot for 24 months without any action being taken. It is unfair and it is safe to say that every indigene and resident of Rivers State is on death row.”
Dr. Mrs. Obelebara Adebiyi, Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Rivers State, said in a goodwill message that, the association is deeply worried over the soot in the atmosphere.
The Chairman of NMA, who was represented by Dr Omosibie Maduka, assured of the association’s support towards every effort to end the hazard.
“NMA is deeply worried over what the Soot particles have caused in the state in the past two years. We will support every concerted effort towards bringing an end to this soot.”
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