While the memory of the 2012 flood that ravaged the country, leading to loss of lives, farmlands and homes, remains fresh, the erosion control measures embarked upon by the federal government through the Ecological Fund Office will, no doubt, bring succour to many affected communities. Adedayo Akinwale writes
With a total land mass of 923,773 square kilometres, Nigeria is blessed with abundant and diverse resources. To survive, the populace interact and exploit the natural resources of the environment and, in most cases, the resultant effect is serious degradation of the environment. It is not surprising, therefore, that the country today is faced with a myriad of ecological problems arising from the impact of these human-environment interactions and natural phenomenon.
Each of the geo-political zones in Nigeria has unique ecological problems. From the North-east to North-west, North-central to South-west, and South-east to South-south, the common ecological problems affecting them include desertification, drought and increasing incidence of flooding.
This situation has continued to exacerbate the magnitude and intensity of ecological problems in Nigeria. Without doubt, gully erosion is one of the major ecological problems facing Nigeria, especially in the east. However, the current reality on ground shows that no region in the country is immune to the severity and persistence of the gully erosion menace, which is now assuming a monstrous dimension in the country.
It is not surprising that in order to tackle the menace holistically, the federal government during the Shehu Shagari administration established the Federation Account Act 1981, which led to the establishment of the Ecological Fund (EF), which is meant to serve as a pool of funds to be exclusively devoted to solving ecological problems.
Every month, the 36 states of the federation and the local government areas are allocated their respective shares expected to be solely channelled towards tackling ecological problems, thus complimenting efforts by the federal government. Worthy of note is that the federal government share of the fund is managed by the Ecological Fund Office.
However, there is said to be a disconnect at the state government levels as the objective of creating the ecological fund has not always being faithfully adhered to. Already, the public has been inundated with accusations of alleged wanton mismanagement of the fund at the state level.
To make headway therefore, the disconnect among the three tiers of governments in adopting a holistic approach that will provide desirable working solution to the problem of sustaining environmental development, needs to be addressed.
In spite of the teething problems, and as part of its effort to give further impetus to tackling the ecological problems ravaging the country, the Ecological Fund Office (EFO) embarked on 18 erosion control projects across the six geopolitical zones in the first quarter of 2017. While most of these projects have been completed, commissioned and handed over to various host communities, others are at various stages of completion.
States where the projects have been commissioned include; Abuja, Osun, Oyo, Benue, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba, Plateau, Abia, FCT, Bauchi and Calabar.
While commissioning the N750 million erosion control project at Veritas University, Abuja, the Secretary to the Government â€Ž of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, assured that the present administration will continue to implement all genuine government polices, agreements, and contracts at both national and international levels initiated by the previous administrations. He said the projects were part of the numerous control projects across the country awarded on October 5, 2017, adding that the project was initiated to prevent flooding and â€Žease vehicular access to the communities where the projects were executed.
Mustapha said, “Let me underscore the present administration’s â€Ždetermination to continue with the implementation of all genuine government policies, agreements and contracts at both national and international levels entered into, by the previous administration laying solid foundation to our quest for virile and prosperous nation on the part of unfettered development.”
The Permanent Secretary EFO, Ms. Habiba Lawalâ€Ž, said the completion of the projects at various communities would enhance the living standard of the people and at the same time reduce danger to lives and property associated with erosion and persistent flooding that had been experienced in the communities in recent times. Lawal said that the federal government received quite a number of requests regarding the need and desirability of embarking on the project as a result of imminent danger posed by devastating recurring erosion and flooding that have being threatening the lives and property of various communities in the country.
The permanent secretary noted that the risk of flooding and erosion and its negative consequences necessitated the prompt intervention of the federal government in effecting holistic approach to control flooding that would stand the test of time.
Lawal stressed, “It is our conviction that this project intervention will provide succour to the communities whose lives and property were in danger. I have no doubt that the Local Government Authorities and indeed the inhabitants will ensure that the drainage system is not turned into a refuse dump.”
Dean, College of Humanity, Veritas University, Dr. Gabriel Egbe said the school will continue to remember the EFO for the intervention, adding that the intervention is a credence to the fact that the government is open to all irrespective of faith.
Aside Abuja, another state that got the touch of the EFO was Benue State, where erosion control took place in two local government areas.
Minister of Youths and Sport, Solomon Long, while commissioning the N386 million erosion control project in Tarka and Guma Local Government Areas of Benue State, said it was part of the federal government’s effort to tackle perennial flooding and its attendant threat to lives and property in communities. He said the intervention project executed through the EFO, had finally put to bed the fears of the perennial flooding and its threat to the peace of mind of the communities.
According to him, “As a responsible and responsive administration, the president heard the yearning of the indigenes and approved this project as one of the 18 ecological intervention projects approved for the second quarter, 2017. Erosion and flood have been a major concern in these communities creating perennial flooding, posing an attendant threat to lives and property.
“Not only is the project dear to the people of Benue, but also it is in keeping faith with the present administrationâ€™s promise that no part of the country will suffer any neglect owing to its geographical location or political consideration.
“The completion of this project has further demonstrated the presidentâ€™s commitment to addressing problems confronting various communities across the country.”
Meanwhile, the Chief of Dauadu, Oliver Kachado, said he was very happy to see this kind of project in his community, stressing that it was rare to witness the commencement and the completion of any project in Nigeria.
Solution for Osun
In Osogbo, the Osun State capital, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, while commissioning the N2.156 billion erosion control projects, said he had no doubt that the successful completion of the projects would enhance the holistic solutions to soil erosion and flood menace in Osogbo. He stressed that the problems of erosion and flood menace along the Okoko and Ogbagba riversâ€™ cannot be over-emphasised, in view of their obvious negative consequences on lives and property in Osogbo Town.
He said the phase one of these triple projects which entails the channelisation and de-silting of Ogbagba and Okoko Rivers in Osogbo was at the cos of N1,257,791,992.86; and was one of the 12 fourth quarter 2016 ecological intervention projects approved in 2016 by the president; while phase two of Okoko, which cost N463,987,000 and phase two of Ogbagba, which cost N434,991,000, were among the 18 ecological intervention projects approved by the president for the first quarter of 2017.
The 2012 flood, which washed away homesteads and farmlands, forced people from their homes, and caused loss of several lives, is still fresh in memory. But the erosion control measures embarked upon by the federal government through the EFO has, no doubt, brought succour to many agonising communities.