By Chris Ochayi
Worried by the devastating effects of flood and gully erosion to the ecosystem, the Federal Government is considering a declaration of state of emergency on erosion to ensure the menace is thoroughly tackled.
The Minister of State for Environment, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, who dropped the hint while on the spot-assessment of some erosion sites in Anambra state, called for urgent measure to curb the threat.
She argued that the state of emergency was urgently required in view of the devastating effects of flood and gully erosion to lives, properties and the ecosystem across the country.
Accompanied by the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke on inspection, the minister declared that, “We are coming in with renewed vigour, and every sense of urgency to make sure that remediation is carried out on erosion sites in Nigeria.”
She said, “From what I have seen, there is need for a state of emergency to be declared on gully erosion in the country.
“Anambra state is losing its landmass. People are losing their lives, and means of livelihood to erosion. I want to assure you that work is starting immediately, hence this inspection.
“All contractors will be put on their toes, as we work with both the State Government and host communities in this regards.”
On the role of the citizenry in erosion prevention and management, Ikeazor emphasized the need for continued public sensitization and awareness creation on waste management, afforestation and reduction in green gas emission.
“We need to educate our people, because a larger percentage of the environmental challenges we are suffering today are man-made. We cannot blame everything on nature. What is happening to the climate today was caused by man”, she said.
During the inspection of Community Secondary School Obosi erosion site, Mrs Ikeazor bemoaned the devastating impact of gully erosion on the school and assured that urgent steps must be taking to address the situation, saying that its disruption of education should not be tolerated.
“This is disrupting education and we cannot allow it. We ought to declare a state of emergency on erosion in Nigeria, and that is why I am here to get things done.
“We must get it done fast. What we are going to do differently this time around is to sustain intervention. You can see an intervention that was done on an erosion site in 2017, has given way because it was not sustained. We are going to make sure that sustainable remediation are carried out.”
In his remarks, the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke, expressed the readiness of their State Government to partner with FG in its renewed efforts at remediating erosion sites in the State.
“The State is always ready to partner with the Federal Government. Anambra is really suffering from gully erosion. We are the second smallest state in the federation. While Lagos is gaining landmass through reclamation from the sea, we are losing lands to gully erosion. Something needs to be done fast,” he said.
The Deputy Governor went further to appreciate the efforts of the federal government through NEWMAP World Bank assisted projects in the state, while expressing delight over the on-the-spot assessment of erosion sites in the State by the Minister.
He called on the federal government to do more because erosion has not only affected Anambra’s land mass, but has also affected the people who are daily losing properties and means of their livelihood to erosion.
The Traditional Ruler of Obosi kingdom, Igwe Chidubem Iweka, while speaking on behalf of Obosi Community, appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari for finding an indigene of their community worthy of appointment as a Minister of State, Environment.
While describing her appointment as an act of God, Igwe Iweka, said: “We are very pleased that our daughter is now Minister of Environment. We are really expectant that there is a silver linen at the end of the dark cloud. Now, we believe that something will be done finally about erosion and flooding that has devastated this community so much.
“Many people have died. Many homes have fallen into deep canyons. Just recently, three children were killed by this scourge in our community. We are very happy, and see it as an act of God to hand over this very Ministry to our daughter, where she can assist to help us alleviate this lingering environmental challenge.”