January 1, 2022 11:54 am
Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, has declared war against artisanal crude oil refiners in the state.
According to the governor, the action was based on tackling the environmental menace occasioned by black soot in parts of the state.
He directed the chairmen of councils, particularly Port Harcourt Local Government Area to go after all the illegal crude oil refining sites and shut them down with immediate effect.
Governor Wike also directed all council chairmen and community leaders to locate, identify and report to his office all those behind illegal bunkering and crude oil refining sites in their localities for prosecution.
The governor, who made this declaration in his 2022 New Year message, said the directive stems from the failure of the federal government and its security agencies to rein in those behind illegal oil bunkering and artisanal crude oil refiners in the state.
“As a state government, we have drawn the attention of the federal government to this problem and requested for its intervention to stop the activities of illegal bunkering and artisanal crude oil refiners, which have been identified as the main sources of the soot pandemic.
“Unfortunately, the federal government has remained inexplicably silent over our request and even complicit to a large extent with the security agencies actively aiding, encouraging and protecting the artisanal refiners to continue with their harmful activities unabated,” he said.
The governor said the state government has equally appealed without success to persons engaging in this illegal business to consider its negative effects on the economy, environment, public safety and public health and disengage from it.
Governor Wike assured citizens of the state that his administration will continue to do its best to meet their aspirations for a more peaceful, safe and secure society throughout 2022.
“We will continue to pursue our objectives for a stronger and more sustainable economy centred on fiscal discipline, revenue growth, job creation, and improved standard of living for all residents.
“We will continue to accelerate our development with the sustainable delivery of quality roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and other socio-economic infrastructure and complete all ongoing development projects across the state,” he said.
The governor reminded all government recognized traditional rulers that they are, at all times, subject to the authority and directives of the state government and not to other allegiances, culture or otherwise.
“Therefore, the consistent absence of some first class traditional rulers, especially the Amayanabo of Okrika, the Amayanabo of Ogu, the Amayanabo of Kalabari and the Gbenemene Nyo-Khana from participating in state functions is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated.
“Should they therefore continue to absent themselves from state functions or in the regular meetings and activities of the state Traditional Rulers Council, we would have no option than to direct their immediate replacement,” he said.
The governor commended the security agencies for working hard to keep the state peaceful, safe and secure throughout 2021.
He assured the citizens that the state government will from the second week of January 2022 commence the demolition of all shanties and makeshift structures in identified crime hotspots in Port Harcourt, particularly the Illabuchi areas of Diobu.
Governor Wike stated that government will take over most vacant plots or uncompleted buildings in the Old and New Government Reservation Areas (GRA) and some other parts of Port Harcourt city and Obio/Akpor councils that have been hijacked and inhabited by criminal elements.
The governor said government shall recover and restore all landfilled or reclaimed wetlands and demolish all structures erected on natural water channels spanning from the Eastern bypass areas up to Abana and Eleme streets in Old GRA as part of measures to check perennial flooding challenge in parts of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor councils.
Governor Wike announced the immediate ban on activities of cart pushers who have become notorious for indiscriminate scavenging of manhole covers and directed law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute anyone who attempts to violate this ban.
He further banned the disposal of refuse on the streets or open spaces in both the Old and new GRAs of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor councils; posting of posters, fliers, pictures, artworks, placards or inscriptions on or under flyovers, bridges, concrete walls and the safety barricades along the roads.
He added that government will establish environmental marshals to enforce compliance with state sanitation laws.
Concerned about the operations and socially harmful activities of nightclubs within residential areas of the state, the governor has placed an immediate ban on all nightclub activities, including night-time trading and street prostitution along Abacha road and surrounding streets in Port Harcourt, which he said, would stop the harmful effect of these depraved activities on the moral development of children and society at large.
The governor expressed sympathy with the victims of the recent fire incidences in the state, especially those who lost loved ones and valuable property.
He said government will continue to strengthen the state Fire Service and urged members of the public to also take responsibility to prevent or avoid some of these fire incidents from happening.
Governor Wike expressed concern over the poor compliance with the existing Covid-19 protocols by citizens and the effect on the transmission of the disease in the state.
He enjoined all residents to make themselves available for testing and vaccination whether it is for first, second or booster jabs.