The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has pledged to collaborate with the Rivers State Waste Management Agency, RIWAMA, to combat the problem of air pollution in the Niger Delta region.
The NDDC Acting Managing Director, Dr. Joi Nunieh, made the commitment when she visited the office of the Sole Administrator of RIWAMA, Dr. Felix Obuah, in Port Harcourt.
Nunieh, who was represented by the NDDC Acting Executive Director, Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, stated that the Commission placed a lot of premium on the health and well-being of the Niger Delta people.
The NDDC boss said: “We are here to collaborate with you on how to address the issues of pollution that is increasingly becoming hazardous in Rivers state.
“It is very alarming to note that the rate of pollutants in Rivers state, especially in Port Harcourt is on rise, and it is endangering the well-being of our people. Cases of kidney failure, cancer are currently on the rise.”
Nunieh expressed reservations with the strategy being adopted by the security agencies in addressing the challenge of illegal oil refining in the Niger Delta, stating: “It is very disheartening that when our security agencies apprehend illegal oil thieves, they set the stolen crude on fire. What you have done by burning the crude is worse than stealing the crude. They can be properly disposed.”
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer stressed the need for urgent intervention, noting: “It has become imperative that we do something about the rate of air pollution in the state. It is sad to point out that the life expectancy in Nigerians, especially Niger Deltans, is low and with the increasing air pollution, it will get worse. Suits are spreading everywhere.”
“We must first address all the sources of pollutant in the state, and most importantly partner with RIWAMA to enable us save the lives of the next generation.”
Responding, RIWAMA Sole Administrator, Dr. Obuah, commended the NDDC Interim Management Committee for doing a good job so far. He remarked: “This is the first time a top management officer of the NDDC will pay a visit to this office to discuss issues affecting our health and environment to find a way forward.”
Obuah noted that the last time the Waste Management Agency felt the impact of the NDDC was in 2007, when 15 sewage trucks were donated by the Commission.
He appealed to other corporate bodies and agencies operating in the state to emulate the NDDC in seeking to pull resources together to solve common problems, adding: “We need more partnerships like this because to rectify this issue, we must all come together since it affects us all.”
Obuah thanked the NDDC Interim Management for putting aside politics and focusing on the growth and development of the Niger Delta region.