Governor Nyesom Wike has constituted a panel to investigate emergence of black carbon that recently took over the atmosphere across Port-Harcourt and its environs.
Several people have recently taken to social media with complaints about black soot in the oil-rich city.
Pictures circulated online include ones that depict black smokes painting people’s bodies, household furniture.
“If the soot is doing this much visible damage to physical objects, imagine what it’s doing to the respiratory systems of the people in PHC!” Charles Ohia, an environmental analyst, tweeted Thursday.
The outrage saw #Stopthesoot trending on Twitter throughout Thursday, with many blaming the situation on refineries being operated by major oil companies as against illegal ones speculated by the government.
Mr. Wike in a statement Thursday said he raised the investigative committee Wednesday after being inundated with reports from Port Harcourt and other parts of Rivers State.
“The committee, which will be backed by technical experts, will liaise with major stakeholders to resolve the environmental challenges posed by the black soot,” Mr. Wike said.
Its members include Commissioners for Environment, Special Duties and Information, Roseline Konya, Emeka Onowu, Austin Tam-George, respectively.
According to experts, black carbon emissions are formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass, and is emitted in both anthropogenic and naturally occurring soot. Black carbon causes human morbidity and premature mortality. In climatology, black carbon is a climate forcing agent.
Author and environmentalist Nnimmo Bassey weighed in on the controversy on his blog Thursday, saying “residents of Port Harcourt, Ekpan and the Niger Delta as a whole deserve a breath of air that is fresh and devoid of soot and black carbon.”