There is a general habit of Nigerians easily neglecting to sustain efforts in dealing with an anomaly after a period of time. At first, when a particular issue is fresh, social media and print media are always awash with cries and echoes of injustice until slowly the voices begin to fade out just like that of a mobile device running out of network coverage.
The prevailing soot that has engulfed the city of Port-Harcourt in the last three years was initially considered a National Emergency case, infused with sporadic efforts by the Federal and state governments to mitigate the continual release of this endemic and carcinogenic substance into the Airspace.
However, today, the political class of both the state and federal have shelved from assuming responsibilities, and most painful is the fact that there has been no political aspirant that has addressed the air quality of the region as one has never seen a manifesto that showcases the passion for true leadership.
Most worrisome is the fact that both the leaders and the led, forget that clean air quality is the prerequisite for human existence as, without it, death is already imminent.
According to a study by Oladapo M. Akinfolarin on the Assessment of Particulate Matter –Based Air quality Index in Port Harcourt, the activities of some of the industries located at these industrial sites (Rumuolumeni, Oginigba, Eleme, and Omuagwa) may be contributing particulate of human health-relevant sizes into the atmosphere.
The particulate matter observed, on the basis of PM2.5um for these areas during dry seasons were ten times higher than those reported by Gupta following satellite remote sensing of cities in India. Regrettably, as informative as the study is, to date, no government official of good conscience has taken the bull by the horn to aggressively address this effluent of catastrophic human consequence.
The activities of artisan refiners and inadequate disposal methods of security personnel who apprehend stolen crude are among the major contributors to the poor air quality of the city and Niger Delta as a whole. The big question is how vandals access the crude and the channels through which it is conveyed to their artisan refining site?
The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) meant to identify leakages and spills often await official complaints from affected communities before they move or further contact the PPMC to quickly stop the spillage and carry out repair works. It has been touted in certain quarters that there is some high level of complicity from these agencies including security agencies which have made cases of spillages to continue to climb rather than abate.
There have been reports of inadequate capacity for storing crude at the flow stations during workover operations thereby leaving it in cellars at the wellhead sites to the mercy of vandals armed with vacuum pumps, who later come at night to evacuate the crude.
Having posited the aforementioned, a responsive government bearing in mind that Nigeria is yet to undergo her first industrial revolution would create a means through which these so-called vandals and criminals will be properly integrated into the society by giving them adequate technical training so the moribund refineries in the nation could once more fire up to maximum performance.
Little wonder, that even after launching series of satellites and being a friend to a cluster of nations that are competent in satellite imagining, that Nigeria and downstream operators are yet to maximize this key resource in monitoring the Environmental Performance Index of the Oil Rich Niger Delta region.
The ministries of Environment and her counterpart in Science and technology have blindly, till date, refused to take concise proactive measures to ensure that the air quality in Port-Harcourt improves yet, the clamour for political relevance under the pretext of service to the people has continued to dominate the air-waves.
It is high time the electorates in the Niger Delta and Nigeria as a whole begun to take stock of stewardship ; checkmate the purported desires of a few who are determined to asphyxiate our existence, then deal the final blow on these set of individuals who have turned a blind eye to the air quality of the Niger Delta.