Are Nigerians now immortals? Or has our attitude towards ignoring danger toughened our skin towards the consequences of ignorance? Is there no limit to how much harm we as a country can cause to ourselves?
Should we beg for our basic amenities from the government and also beg for clean air to breathe too?
According to WHO, air pollution is the contamination of either the indoor or outdoor environments by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere.
In Port Harcourt, however, both the indoor and outdoor environments are completely contaminated by a variety of agents ranging from; the ruthless vandalization of oil pipes, the constant use of household combustion devices, motor vehicles, industrial activities, and forest fires.
These agents, therefore, have alarming effects on our atmosphere and the air we breathe.
Making reference to findings made by Professor Precious Ede-led’s Technical Committee set up by the Rivers State Government which did a comparative investigation on the impact of soot pollution over a three-year period, he said: “An estimated 500,000 persons have had their immune systems compromised and exposed to the extreme of the prevalent viral infection, and another unconfirmed number of persons are suffering from severe kidney, liver, and mental problems.
Research by Dr. Dakuku in his recent writings to the government has shown that due to the reduction in the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Port Harcourt and the Niger Delta at large, we are all now victims of the menace of black soot regardless of status.
This research also predicts that there will be a sporadic increase in respiratory diseases if proper mediums are not put in place as soon as possible.
From smog hanging over the city to smoke inside the house, air pollution poses a great threat to the residents of the Niger Delta at large. There have been many cases of premature deaths due to affected lungs, eye irritations, and throat sores, all thanks to air pollution.
It is also a paradox to think that most efforts fueled towards quashing this menace are inhibited by the same government we are crying to, and by many families that thrive on bunkery and vandalism for a living. Hence the repercussions are dire.
In a bid to put food on their table, these people involved in this illegal act are already blinded to the dangers their actions will bring. Why work so hard only to spend your days on life support?
WHAT THE PEOPLE NEED.
The people of Port Harcourt and Niger Delta at large are asking for the air they once knew. We have seen life before the soot. We have inhaled the air before this contamination. We’ve experienced life and a different kind of air. We desperately need that.
We have seen our leaders speak up—the same thing they did 5 years ago— but words can’t help us now. We are asking for actions.
No doubt, we know how much wealth this same soot has brought to some citizens, but of what use is it when lives are lost in the process?
The government needs to become more intentional in shutting down every illegal oil activity, bring every defaulter to book, and ensure that this menace ends.
Faviola Atako, Lawki Milliani, and Umasoye also contributed to this article.