By Razak Owolabi
The governments of Edo, Delta and Bayelsa, have announced that they have put adequate machinery in place to mitigate flooding in their states ahead of the rainy season.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigerian Meteorological Agency’s Director General, Prof. Mansur Matazu, had in January, said Nigerians would suffer flash and riverine flooding, particularly those staying around floodplain areas.
In spite of challenges, the states however asserted that they were prepared and had put machinery in place to control expected flooding ahead of the rainy season.
On the utilisation of the ecological funds in their state to fight the menace, the government officials were willing to comment.
Nonetheless, they lamented that many communities were gradually becoming non-existent due to devastation from gully erosion as funds to mitigate this natural phenomenon were colossal and beyond government’ reach.
In Delta, the state government said it had taken proactive steps in the monitoring of flood prone communities to ascertain the level of water ahead of the rainy season.
The state Commissioner for Environment, Chief Godspower Asiuwhu told NAN in Asaba that ”the governor of Delta State, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa has directed that flood prone communities should be monitored to ascertain the level of water.
”Delta State Government, as a proactive government is prepared to manage the flood situation in the state, knowing fully well that some local government areas are flood prone areas.
”The state is already putting some preparatory measures in place to control the flooding as the rainy season draws closer,” Asiuwhu said.
According to him, the Ministry of Environment has started organising town hall meetings with local government council chairmen to brainstorm on how to manage the effects of flooding during rainy season in their communities.
”We have also commenced sensitisation in different local languages, using jingles, fliers, public address systems and door – to- door visits to reach out to those persons living in flood prone areas to alert them of rainy season that is drawing closer,”
The commissioner recalled that prior to the 2022 flooding, his ministry had town hall meetings with fish farmers and other cluster groups and were sensitised on flood, its prevention and management.
Isiuwhu said during the sensitisation meetings, the farmers were asked to always ensure they cleared blocked drainages to allow free flow of water as well as protect fishes.
”Prior to the 2022 flood episode, myself in the company of the management staff of my ministry had during a town hall meeting with Camp 74 fish farmers, Dennis Osadebay Cluster fish farmers and Akapko sensitized them on flood, its prevention and management.
“During that meeting, we urged the farmers to clear blocked drainages so as to allow the free flow of water and protect their fishes from the effects of flood and also relocate to safe ground in the event of the flood becoming devastating,” he said.
In Edo, Mrs Evelyn Henry, Information Officer in the state Ministry of Environment and Sustainability told NAN that government had began desilting of water channels and excavation of moats in the state.
Henry said it was Gov. Godwin Obaseki’s avowed commitment to tackle flood related issues in the state that made him recently inaugurate the Edo State Flood Erosion Watershed Management Agency (FEWMA) meant to tackle flood and gully erosion issues in the state.
She said the Agency was established to sustain the gains recorded by the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) in the state.
“So, the issue of flooding in the state will be majorly handled by this agency,” Henry said.
The same commitment is displayed in Bayelsa where relevant government agencies have started opening up canals such as Epie Creek, Tailor Creek amongst others, as part of flood control measures in the state.
An official of the Ministry of Environment, who spoke with NAN without disclosing his name, said the Bayelsa government had also began to put other flood control measures in place ahead of the rainy season.
The official however, asserted that it would require collaboration between the Federal Government and the state to address the huge natural phenomenon in the South-South region, especially in the riverine areas.
According to him, such collaboration will be in the area of construction of multiple dams in certain locations, adding that “if the Federal Government wants to actually tackle flood, it should treat it as a matter of priority”.
“But, here in Bayelsa, Gov. Douye Diri has taken it upon himself and has instructed the opening of all the canals,” he said.
Another senior government official said that the state government had taken further proactive steps to inaugurate Flood Disaster Management Board, mandated to carry out sensitisation of the people on the best possible measures to prevent and control flooding.
On ecological funds, officials of the three states, who could not disclose enough information, however, urged the Federal Government to be more transparent in the disbursement and ultilisation of the funds.
According to the Bayelsa government official, the ecological fund was an intervention by the Federal Government of Nigeria to address flood, erosion and other ecological challenges in various communities across the country.
“But here in Bayelsa, we only get to read about it in the news without a corresponding physical effect in this state,’’ said the official.
NAN investigation, however, shows that the only semblance of information about the ecological funds in these states was a referenced statement credited to the House of Representatives Committee on Ecological Fund in December, 2022.
This was during the committee’s probe into the utilisation of ecological fund for the past 10 years.
Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Ibrahim Isiaka had frowned at the absence of majority of the states, Ministries Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government, invited to appear before it to explain their involvement in the disbursement of the fund.
Miffed by this disrespect for the committee, Isiaka vowed that the committee would recover the fund and pump it back into the main ecological account and ensure proper usage.(NAN)