By Codratus Godson
The Rivers State government wants the teaching of Climate Change education in schools in Nigeria to move the concern for the environment from pedestal to academic levels and make it a serious matter to citizens.
The demand was placed by the Commissioner of Environment, Dr Igbiks Tamuna, on Wednesday, April 22, which is World Earth Day, an annual event that started as far back as 1970 in the US.
The government also demanded for an end to gas flaring to reduce green house effect which he admitted is ravaging the oil region at the moment.
He also admitted at a press conference to mark the global event that local illegal refiners (kpofire operators) were responsible for the soot poisoning the state capital and parts of Eleme area, but said the state government had already developed a plan to end it by presenting a business plan to the refiners to form cooperatives and get license to set up modular refineries.
He said for the deputy governor to be made head of the committee to end kpofire shows the commitment of the Gov Nyeson Wike administration on the matter. He said as soon as the pandemic ravaging the nation and the world ends, the committee would move faster.
He said dredging is causing erosion and flooding in the state and promised that though licenses are a federal matter, the state would fish out those operating without licenses and also force those with licenses to adhere to the regulation requiring environmental impact assessment report.
On dead fish syndrome in the state as well as the oil region, he said a committee of professors from two universities in Port Harcourt has been set up and that they are doing testing to come up with likely cause of mass death for a particular type of fish.
He appealed to the people of the state to stay away from consuming the fish until results were out to avoid another national calamity.
On the importance of the World Earth Day, Tamuno said no man owns the earth but every man is owned by the earth. He described the earth as man’s common heritage, demanding that all hands must be on deck to protect it.
He said the Rivers State government is fully committed to the protection of the earth and to the safety of the environment especially as the state is part of an oil ravaged section of the country.
He said the state committee report of soot is ready and that action would begin soon but warned that so far, it is clear from the report that skin diseases and cancer epidemics were lurking around the corner in the state.