Francis Sardauna chronicles the interventions of the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari in mitigating the perennial effects of flooding and other ecological challenges in the state.
It is no longer news that torrential rainfall with sporadic and increasing intensity orchestrated by climate change and human factors have, in recent years, led to severe flooding and erosion in most parts of Katsina State, including the state capital.
Other perennial challenges that hitherto bedevilled the state include, but not limited to, erosion, desertification, deforestation and excessive heat, which have negatively affected the socio-economic well-being of the citizenry and development drive in most parts of the state. These natural phenomena often lead to loss of lives and property, farmlands, roads, commercial and educational structures.
They contribute to the spread of communicable diseases among rural dwellers in communities and villages engulfed by the disaster.
The ecological predicaments may not be unconnected with factors which include the nature of settlements in flood prone areas, blockage of drains and river channels, low elevation and poor upstream reservoir regulation on neigbouring states’ rivers.
Having been fully briefed on these environmental problems, Governor Aminu Bello Masari, on assumption of office in 2015 promised to explore effective urban planning, developmental control, drainage designs, dredging, construction of drainage channels and environmental education to mitigate all climate change-induced problems confronting the state.
In line with the governor’s promise, the revolving and proactive steps being explored by his administration had drastically stemmed the effects of flooding and other environmental challenges on residents, property and businesses in the state. He reactivated the State Ecological Fund Law (No 5) of 2005 which pave the way for statutory deductions of two per cent of the monthly allocations due to the state and the 34 local governments from the federal government to end the perennial ecological problems across the state.
The reactivation of the 2014 amended law has given the governor an opportunity to accord priority to environmental issues, believing that ensuring a secured and healthy environment is paramount to qualitative education, improved hygiene, potable water supply and sustainable agricultural production.
Masari, therefore, swung into action by deploying N8 billion to tackle the ecological challenges of flood, drought, erosion, waste management and climate change, which had endangered the lives and property of the citizenry.
He successfully constructed flood and erosion control structures in 122 sites, covering over 150 communities across the state. These projects include 88,537m of combined reinforced concrete line, block line and masonry line drainages; 1,910m of retaining wall; 360m length of drift; 104 culverts and 1,550m of embankment.
Similarly, in Katsina, the state capital, 21,139m of combined concrete line, block line and masonry line drainages, as well as 24 box culverts were also provided. These interventions in the metropolis enabled residents of Kofar Kaura, Sabuwar Unguwa and Kofar Kwaya to ply their roads during the rainy season.
Another milestone achievement by the Masari-led government in the metropolis is the construction of pedestrian crossing and expansion of water channel between Nayalli Bridge and Adeleke Bridge. In fact, the successful completion of the project enabled the state government to secure approval from the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) to assist the state with other ecological projects.
To eradicate the menace of indiscriminate dumping of refuse and ensure pollution management, the state government has purchased five refuse evacuation vehicles with 105 refuse containers imported from China and placed in designated refuse collection centres in major cities of Daura, Katsina and Funtua.
The governor, in his bid to ensure environmental safety, also procured and fabricated additional 75 refuse collection containers at the cost of N37,500,000 and 70 knap sack sprayers and 15 fogger machines for pest vector control, in order to curtail mosquitoes in the state, at N8,800,000.
The administration also recruited additional 231 casual staff and increased the monthly stipends of the over 2,000 casual staff of the State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) from the usual N4,500 to N7,000 to boost their productivity. Additional working tools, such as diggers, shovels, wheel barrows, rain boots, hand gloves, apron, among others, were procured for the workers.
These numerable achievements, perhaps prompted the Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Hamza Suleiman to inform reporters at the Government House while unveiling the state government’s scorecard under his ministry, that the Masari administration has tackled the ecological challenges in the state.
Suleiman, during the ministerial briefing, said the restoration government of Masari believes that a safe, clean and sanitised environment is key to quality education, improved and sustainable agricultural production, availability and quality of water supply, good health and poverty reduction.
Thus, he said despite the inability of the Federal Government to fulfil its promises of resettling and compensating Jibia flood victims, the state government, in collaboration with the NEWMAP had since commenced the construction of stormwater drainages and culverts to forestall further occurrence of the natural disaster in the local government. He said: “Following the 2018 floods in Jibia town, which claimed lives and property, the World Bank, through NEWMAP, tagged the provision of stormwater drainages and diversion channels in Jibia as an emergency. Under the NEWMAP project, the state government has paid cash contribution of over N500 million.
“Thus, the state engaged a reputable consultant that produced the designs of the project at over N662 million. The first phase of the project involving the construction of stormwater and drainage management has been awarded and work commenced in August 2020.”
Suleiman, however, lamented that the 2018 flood caused by torrential rains on Nigeria’s border with Niger Republic killed more than 50 persons and destroyed property worth billions of Naira, adding that two years after, 22 persons were still missing in the disaster despite efforts to know their whereabouts.
He added that the government, in synergy with NEWMAP, also awarded a contract for the construction of stormwater and drainage management scheme in Funtua, Katsina and Malumfashi to reputable consulting firms that appraised and produced comprehensive designs for the projects at over N67 million with 18 months completion timeframe.
Under the same NEWMAP project, Suleiman said some communities across the state were also supported to adopt sustainable land use practices through piloting the reduction of trees being cut. It also empowered 204 youths with tricycles for waste management and conveyance of goods.
Other notable projects, he said, included the development of designs for the construction of flood and erosion control structures in different 105 sites across the three senatorial zones of the state, adding that “this consultancy service has been completed at the cost of N150 million and has been submitted to World Bank for approval and financing”.
He explained that the state government, through the European Union Grant Project for Sustainable Development of Farm-agro Forestry Fuel Wood Conservation System, has provided counterpart funds amounting to N59,374,999,99 for tree planting and reforestation of degraded forest estates.
He reiterated that the restoration government had sustained participation in the National Great Green Wall project that covers 11 local governments in the state, saying in 2017, the project produced two million seedlings, shelter belt plantations, construction of skill acquisition centre in Sandamu Local Government and provision of community nursery and orchard, solar power boreholes.
According to him, 90 VIP latrine were also constructed across the major markets and motor parks in order to curtail open defecation in Funtua, Dandume, Sheme, Kafur, Danja, Jibia, Mashi, Mani, Kankia and Mai’adua respectively.
The environment commissioner said arrangements had been concluded to map out excavation sites and ponds in the state, aimed at improving government budgeting for ecological programmes, controlling of solid minerals exploitation, effective rehabilitation of mining and sand excavation sites thereby minimising social strifes in communities.
Therefore, it is pertinent to say that the developmental drives of Governor Masari’s government in the environmental sector had immensely led to the giants strides recorded in health, education, agriculture and water supply but residents most support this noble course by avoiding human factors that could result to the old quagmire.