Governor Wike to "Stop the Soot Campaigners ": Don't Politicise the soot challenge

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has warned against the politicization of the soot  challenge facing the state, saying that Federal Government must be prevailed upon to stop the soot. 

Addressing a "stop the soot " march to Government House Port Harcourt on Thursday, Governor Wike said that at the base of the soot are Federal Government agencies who take action that  destroy the Rivers environment. 

Represented by Deputy Governor Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Governor Wike said nobody is immuned from the health hazards created by the soot.

Governor Wike said: "The environment  cannot be politicised . Nobody is immuned from the soot.  These environmental issues are directly under the Federal Government. 

"The Federal Government owns the refineries that have been emitting the gases into the atmosphere.  The Federal Government also owns the security agencies  that have been using uncivilized methods to stop bunkering and illegal refineries ".

The governor said that the Rivers State Government  would always cooperate with the Federal Government to see that matters concerning the environment are taken seriously. 

He said: "We want  to assure  you that we are looking into the requests.  The government will act on them".

He advised operators of illegal refineries  to desist from the  dangerous act, which is one of the major pollutants in the state. 

Earlier, Leader of the Stop the Soot campaign  , Mr Tunde Bello said the campaign is a non-political initiative to draw  attention  to the air pollution caused by soot.

The group placed a 14-point demand on the Rivers State Government where they expect action .

The campaigners amongst other things called on the State Government to prioritise the environment, propose a supplementary budget, conduct an environmental audit  of host and oil producing communities, force local government areas to implement sanitation laws and make local government areas use their security votes to provide local government monitors and whistle blowers.

They also called on the state government to start street health campaign, provide air quality readings and seek legal redress to compel the Federal Government to fund the Ogoni clean up. 

A human rights activist, Barrister Higher King who participated in the march said that the Federal Government is not living up to expectations, hence the prevalence of soot in Port Harcourt. 

He blamed the security agencies for their deadly disposal of the illegal refineries for the presence of soot. 

Barrister King said unless more refineries are in place and supplying products round the clock, soot will continue to prevail in the state's environment because of the existence of illegal refineries.