Minister of Environment, Mrs Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia
“Lives can be saved and losses minimised if flood alerts are taken more seriously”, Minister of Environment, Mrs Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia has said, after inspecting flood-ravaged parts of Bauchi, Benue, Jigawa, Kano and Plateau States.
Addressing flood victims in Bauchi, Jigawa, Plateau and Benue States last week, the Minister expressed the personal anguish and pain of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, at the immense suffering the floods had caused to victims, who lost loved ones, all their life savings, possessions, and became homeless.
She said, “the monumental losses suffered in many states, and the destructions to lives and properties call for sober reflection. It calls for review of our strategies and commitments towards mitigating the devastating effects of climate change”
She stated that incidents of recurring flash floods in various parts of the country, particularly in the North hitherto noted for drought, underscored the reality of climate change.
She reiterated the need for citizens, particularly residents of flood-prone areas to heed the early warnings of the Ministry on impending floods, and to promptly evacuate, so that lives were not avoidably lost. She urged Nigerians not to hesitate or procrastinate in evacuating their abodes, when directed to do so by local authorities.
Mailafia appealed to residents to refrain from dumping refuse on drainages, gutters, and the blockage of canals which aggravated floods. She warned against building of houses in flood plains, or the banks of rivers and streams, in spite of their prohibitions by town planning authorities. She called for the stoppage of tree felling, which contributed to environmental degradation.
She appealed to people to embrace and adopt the use of alternative sources of cooking energy such as gas stoves, to preserve the country’s wood lots.
The minister observed that tree felling was positively detrimental to the Federal Government’s Presidential Initiative on Afforestation. She said the aim of the programme was to stem the tide of desertification and the consequent loss of arable lands. She stated that massive afforestation programmes also aimed at mitigating the harmful effects of climate change through massive re-vegetation and sustainable management of the nation’s forest resources. She called on states that were yet to take advantage of tree seedlings available under the Presidential afforestation initiative to do so without further delay.
The Minister appealed to all Nigerians to take environment issues more seriously, and to act individually or in concert with others to protect the environment. She noted that the best approach to managing environmental challenges was to act proactively and preventively, rather than wait for disasters to occur, and begin emergency response. She appealed to state and local governments to deepen and widen the scope of their sensitization, advocacy, and public education programmes, along with greater budgetary allocations for Environmental Programmes.
The Minister of Environment is heading a delegation constituted by the Federal Government last week to visit flood affected states, with a view to assessing the extent of flooding and damage to take more remedial action.
Members of the committee include the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe and the Permanent Secretary, Ecological Fund office, Dr. MacJohn Nwaobiala.