The ongoing soot epidemic in Rivers State has led to criticism of Governor Nyesom Wike by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
This was contained in a statement issued on Sunday by Senibo Chris Finebone, the Rivers State APC Publicity Secretary-elect, who accused the governor of resorting to politicking rather than redress the challenge plaguing the state.
Finebone, in the statement, noted that “despite the best efforts of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to discourage the politicization of the fight against soot enveloping Port Harcourt and endangering the lives of residents in the short and long term, it is becoming very obvious that the Rivers State governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, is hell bent more on reaping political dividends from it than pursuing an altruistic fight. Our concern is that such a motive will ultimately stall the effort.”
The APC further queried Wike’s inaction over the soot epidemic for the past six years while resorting to blaming external forces for the issue.
“In defending the many years that it took the governor to wake up from a deep sleep over the soot challenge, it is disheartening to find the state governor blaming everyone else but himself for doing nothing over the past 6 years in addressing the deadly soot. When the governor is not blaming security agents, he is blaming the federal government.
“Whereas the accusation against some security personnel may have some substance worthy of investigation, it is rather most unintelligent for the governor who heads a subnational government to blame the federal government for inaction on the deadly soot in Rivers State when the State government has not initiated any concrete action requiring synergy with the federal government. Indeed, government-to-government business is not conducted based on off-the-cuff comments of a governor at functions or events.
“Can the Rivers State Government provide proof of Save Our Souls (SOS) memos initiated by it and addressed to the FG through Federal Ministry of Environment calling for the central government’s intervention on the matter? That is how government-to-government business is conducted.”
The APC Spokesman also disclosed how Wike refused to appoint a Commissioner for Environment which has led to the deterioration of environmental conditions in the state.
“Very significant is that, after all said and done, the fact that a State under the ravaging whirlwind of soot does not have a sitting Cabinet Commissioner for Environment smells real bad and is self-indicting. It means that the very dangerous health risk will not be routinely brought by official memo to be discussed at the State Executive Council meetings except if the governor remembers to table it. Apparently, this has been the sad situation so far.
“Truth is that the governor never considered the soot descending on Port Harcourt and environs important enough for 6 years until now.”
Consequently, the opposition party charged the Rivers State Government to “be honest enough to take responsibility for doing nothing for over 6 years even as citizens cried for help. The governor should not merely go after grasshoppers while leaving the elephants to continue with their alternative economy that inflicts havoc on the lives of residents of the State. It should not be seen as a ready opportunity to rope in innocent political opponents particularly now that the local government chairmen are major drivers of the fight.
“APC will always support any genuine and honest steps taken by all levels of government be it the federal, state and local to stem this very horrendous soot ravaging our people and residents of Rivers State especially Port Harcourt. Our only concern is that any attempt to use it for political witch-hunting of opponents will backfire and defeat the purpose.
“he Rivers State Government should also ensure that it must not claim to be fighting illegal refining while, at the same time, its biggest contractor (Julius Berger) is providing a huge ready market for relatively cheaper illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) or diesel killing our people. That would be classical grand folly,” the statement read.
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