PRESS RELEASE: *Restore Commissioner in Environment Ministry; Appoint 3,000 Sanitation Marshals, Advocacy Centre tells Gov. Wike on World Environment Day 2021

*Restore Commissioner in Environment Ministry; Appoint 3,000 Sanitation Marshals, Advocacy Centre tells Gov. Wike*
*_…. Calls on artisanal refiners, security operatives to stop contributing to environmental pollution, make peace with nature and support ecosystem restoration efforts in Niger Delta_*
*Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC)* joins nature enthusiasts in Nigeria and around the world to celebrate World Environment Day (WED) today with the theme *“ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION”*.
This theme says it all on the need for us to work towards the restoration of our ecosystem especially in Rivers State and other parts of the Niger Delta where activities of multinational oil companies and artisanal crude oil refineries among others contribute to environmental degradation and reduction in ecosystem capacity to support human lives on earth.
Advocacy Centre had observed over the years with sadness, the emergence of a new generation of Niger Delta ecosystem destroyers under the auspices of *“kpofire boys”* and security operatives that resort to the unwholesome practice of setting ablaze artisanal crude oil refining sites, boats and barges suspected to be carrying illegal petroleum products and empty their contents into the environment incessantly.
In the first and second quarter 2021 alone, we observed in the skies in Rivers especially at the Creek Road and Aboloma Areas, how security operatives set ablaze no fewer than 10 of such boats/barges with their contents spilled into the ecosystem and the atmosphere filled with black thick smoke from incomplete combustion that contribute to the black soot pollution that affects all of us daily.
Another mix in the midst of the poor environmental practices and reports from Rivers; a state hosting world’s largest ever environmental clean-up in the Ogoni area is the continues neglect and seeming less importance attached to environmental issues by the Rivers State Government.
We have observed a spat of incessant delays in the appointment of a commissioner for the ministry of environment by *Governor Nyesom Wike, CON*, tempering with the commissioner when eventually appointed and the ministry left without a commissioner longer than necessary and befitting of a State like Rivers.
Advocacy Centre recalls that it took Governor Nyesom Wike one year, up to March 4, 2020 after he was elected for a second term in office on March 9, 2019 to swear-in a commissioner for the ministry of environment, *Dr. Igbiks Tamuno* in the second batch of commissioner appointments and one year after on March 30, 2021 the same Commissioner was removed from office and this is three Months after and still counting, yet, this very important ministry is still without a commissioner to serve the state and address the enormous environmental challenges that stares us all in the face.
It is against these backgrounds that our *CALL TO ACTION* on this year’s World Environment Day today include;
*1. That the Rivers State Governor should kindly appoint a Commissioner for Environment for the State without further delays*.
*2. That the Rivers State Government should not always target the ministry of environment to be without a commissioner for a longer period of time because to us at Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre, that is the most important Ministry that oversees the first right of man: the environment and which every other ministry and individuals including the Governor himself as well as the other over 5 million population living and doing business in Rivers State depend on for survival*.
*3. That the Rivers State Governor, Barr. Nyesom Wike be hereby reminded again for the umpteenth time that the youths and good people of Rivers State are still expecting him to fulfil the promise of recruiting 3,000 “Sanitation Marshals” approved by the State Executive Council on Wednesday, January 29, 2020. As a youth and environmental advocacy organization, we believe that the sanitation marshals, when employed will lead to reduction in youth unemployment rate index, facilitate the restoration of the garden city status of Port Harcourt, improve on the sanitary condition of the city and its environs especially now that 10 flyovers are coming on stream and more visitors expected in the State*.
*4. That artisanal crude oil refiners in Rivers State and the Niger Delta should stop further environmental pollution, embrace government and organizational proposed alternative means of livelihoods including modular refineries while residents should observe standard sanitation rules, stop indiscriminate dumping of refuse and support government efforts at all levels to keep our environment clean and safe for all of us*.
*5. That as further *Call to Action on Ecosystem Restoration*; *security operatives contributing to environmental pollution in Rivers State and other parts of the Niger Delta should stop forthwith; *make peace with nature* and *adopt best practices in the destruction of illegal hydrocarbon facilities that adds to the destruction of our fragile ecosystem*.
*6. That security operatives should also join forces with individuals and organizations to carry out advocacy, plant trees, grow trees, regreen our environment, clean our rivers and coasts like the American Coast Guards does in the United States of America especially during the 2010 Gulf of Mexican Oil Spill/Clean-up just as we also have ongoing in the Ogoni area of Rivers State where they have also been involved in the same act of destroying illegal artisanal crude oil refining sites, setting boats/barges ablaze and contributing to the hydrocarbon pollution being cleaned up today with more to come*.
*ADVOCACY CENTRE* wishes you and everyone a restored ecosystem that naturally supports life as we collaborate to address these and related challenges destroying our ecosystem.
Environmental Justice Activist, Human Rights Defender and
Executive Director, *ADVOCACY CENTRE*.
June 5, 2021.

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