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Rivers govt seeks partnership with private sector, NGOs to restore environment

By: Felix Ikpotor

The Rivers State Government has called for partnership with the private sector, companies, nongovernmental organizations and all concerned stakeholders to restore the environment.

The State Commissioner for Environment, Sydney Gbara made the call on the occasion of the 2024 World Environment Day celebration in Port Harcourt.

He said the government through the ministry is willing to partner with anybody that’s interested in restoring the degraded environment of the state.

Gbara while noting that activities of multinationals and other sources of environmental pollution has caused great danger to the environment in the state, called for immediate action to safeguard the soil from further destruction.

He said: “We in this part of the country are predominantly farmers and fishermen and we know that the activities of the multinationals in our area have caused drastic devastation to our lands and this has adversely affected our state of living.

“Again you will find out that in areas like Ogoni where we produce large quantity of garri which is a general food for all, there is a sharp hike in price of the product as against what it used to be which are some of the negative effects of pollution and land degradation, indicating a serious danger ahead of us if we don’t pay adequate attention and take  action to safeguard the environment.

“Our water sources are drying up, our economy weakened and our communities becoming endangered. We all need to take action in addressing this challenges our environment is facing on a daily basis”.

Gbara said the World Environment Day is a golden opportunity for people around the world to take action to safeguard the environment.

“We gather every year to talk about the environment but to what extent are we taking action to save the environment, to what extent are we getting the right collaboration from parastatals, nongovernmental organizations and we the government so that we can together see how we can solve this problem because everyone of us here are potential victims to the dangerous effect of the environment. So I want to emphasize that after talking, we should further the talking by more collaboration and engagements and I can assure you that you will get that from the new leadership of the ministry of environment. We are going to ensure we do everything necessary to make sure that we don’t only talk but take action,” he stated.

Commenting on the theme of the celebration which is, “Land Restoration, Desertification and Drought Resistance,” he said priority now must be on restoring the ecosystem by replanting of forest and avoiding anything that would cause further depletion of the earth.

“Let me add by using this medium officially make an appeal like I said earlier that we in the ministry, we are ready to partner whosoever is ready, to ensure that what we are here talking about is actualise because this goes with the mantra of the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminialayi Fubara, he has said Rivers first and by so we must ensure that we protect the environment of Rivers State for the well-being of Rivers citizens,” he said.

While speaking at the occasion, a former Commissioner for Environment in the State and frontline environmentalist, Professor Roseline Konya, said land is under threat by deforestation, urbanisation, industrial development, agricultural expansion, environmental pollution and unsustainable farming practices.

She emphasized the need for trees to be planted to safeguard the earth.

“We must plant trees and save the future and protect the earth’s surface from erosion. Let’s stop deforestation so that we don’t expose our land surface to destruction,” she stated.

In his goodwill message at the event, the Head of Service in Rivers State, Dr. George Nwaeke commended the ministry for championing the course for restoration of the environment.

He also called on companies and private sector to partner the government in restoring the environment change and planting trees to combat climate change.

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