Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
The Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has charged the Nigeria Erosion Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) to deploy innovative erosion control techniques and robust integration of flexible structures to tackle the menace of gully erosion in the state.
Governor Bello gave the charge during the official launch of Kogi State Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (KGSNEWMAP), which took place at Riverton Hotel in Lokoja recently.
The governor said there is no disaster that can easily impoverish agrarian native societies like environmental disaster. He pointed out that unchecked gully erosion can wipe out farms and homes in just a few years turning landowning families into destitute and refuges, stressing that the agony and pains experienced by victims cannot be quantified in terms of loss of property and lives.
Bello, who disclosed that eight gully erosion sites had been discovered across the Kogi state, charged the project to entrench preemptive measures designed to reduce the vulnerability of the target locations that has soil erosion and environmental degradation in the state.
He listed the eight sites to include Ogane-Aji in Dekina Local Government Area (LGA); Etahi in Okene LGA; Ozuri in Adavi LGA; Ankpa in Ankpa LGA; Ugwolawo in Ofu LGA, and Omigbo River in Kabba -Bunu LGA.
The governor said the severity of the soil erosion and other environmental disasters in the state formed the decision of the state government towards finding integrated and sustainable solutions to arrest and reverse the menace, disclosing that his administration has approved the release of another N100 million as counterpart funds to the project, and assuring stakeholders and listeners that government will continue to improve on its contributions to NEWMAP.
He commended the federal government and the World Bank group for structuring and supporting the noble cause, saying the global apex bank has shown appreciable interest in helping Kogi state to develop.
Earlier, the World Bank country director, Mr. Rachid Benmessaoud in his speech disclosed that over 2.5 billion people worldwide will be removed from poverty through the operations and activities of the NEWMAP project.
He said the collaboration of Kogi state and the World Bank towards eradicating the menace of erosion would not be limited to eight sites only, assuring listeners and stakeholders at the event that sites would be added to tackle gully erosion in the state.
Represented by the Task team leader of NEWMAP, Dr. Amos Abu, the country director revealed that besides fighting erosion, the organisation would provide capacity building and jobs for the people to improve their standard of living.
According to him, the World Bank does not partner states who do not show high level of commitment, while he commended Kogi state government for prioritising the issue of environmental degradation in the state.