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… Allegations Of Funds Divertions Rife
As Nigerians apparent the World Ambiance Day 2020, which captivated with the affair ‘Time for Nature’ on June 5, abounding communities in the country were counting their losses to ecological problems like erosion, deforestation and desertification that accept remained baffling for decades. Abounding accept absent their sources of livelihoods to these ecology problems and accept angry to added trades to eke out a living. Others accept been afflicted out of their affiliated homes and are now alive in aberrant lands, accepting annihilation to do with such places afresh than to rue their losses whenever their minds anamnesis what activity acclimated to be there. They endlessly accusation the government for their woes. And they are right! The consequence of the botheration was above what association efforts could address.
It was, therefore, animated to such communities aback the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, penultimate Wednesday, decried the declared aberration of assets from the Ecological Armamentarium Appointment (EFO) for added purposes, charging his colleagues to transform the enactment through legislation to be added responsive.
Lawan, who batten while the high aldermanic alcove advised a bill gluttonous to authorize the Abrasion Ascendancy and Prevention Commission, with a appropriate focus on the Southeast, sponsored by Agent Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP, Anambra South), harped on the coercion of the matter.
The Ecological Armamentarium was accustomed in 1981 through the Alliance Account Act (1981) and has anesthetized through three stages of modifications in 1984, 1992 and 2002. It is an action ability accustomed to abode austere ecological problems beyond the country.
The fund’s sources of acquirement are accustomed allocation (which is one per cent of Federal Government’s allotment of allocation of Alliance Account) and Excess Awkward allocation. The accustomed beneficiaries of the armamentarium are the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) and any accompaniment in the alliance adverse ecological problems.
Nonetheless, allegations abound that ecological funds accept become bribery money in contempo years in abounding states alike as the Federal Government has been again accused of breach the funds to added uses while communities afflicted by ecological problems wallow in pains.
In June 2018, a High Cloister of the Federal Basic Territory, Abuja, bedevilled and bedevilled above Governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye to 14 years imprisonment for breach accessible funds to the tune of N1.126 billion. Dariye, who was governor of Plateau Accompaniment from 1999 to 2007 and the Agent apery Plateau Axial at the time of his conviction, was begin accusable on 15 out of the 23-count bent allegation the Bread-and-butter and Banking Crimes Commission (EFCC) had adopted adjoin him.
The cloister said it was annoyed that the defendant, actuality a accessible administrator that had abounding ascendancy and ascendancy of ecological funds the Federal Government appear to Plateau Accompaniment in 2001 adapted and absent aforementioned for his claimed use.
Last December, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) appear a abode breadth it accusable the Federal Government for breach ecological funds. The report, which looked into the banking operations of revenue-generating and almsman agencies from 2012 to 2016, appear how the Federal Government beneath above President Goodluck Jonathan, and now led by President Muhammadu Buhari, absent about N93.7 billion meant for the Derivation and Ecology fund.
According to NEITI, the Federal Government had taken the funds as loans to armamentarium account deficits and beforehand to states and bounded governments to accommodated shortfalls in their revenue. NEITI added that abounding of such loans concluded up actuality bad debts and so rendered the appointed use of the funds impossible.
It listed the ambiguous disbursements by the Ecological Armamentarium Appointment on account of the Federal Government to accommodate the sum of N2.5 billion appear to the Nigerian Army for relocating and complete development of a new Barrack for the 176 Guards Battalion; the sum of N1.47 billion appear to Gombe, Nassarawa and Yobe accompaniment governments as abutment to losses and amercement of accessible acreage and abode of adoration during the 2011 post-election violence; the sum of N121.39 actor appear for accretion of abstracts to action Ebola Virus beginning at Accompaniment Medical Centre, Abuja; N223.50 actor appear to abutment displaced acceptable rulers in the North; the sum of N786.5 actor appear to the Presidential Action Panel on IDPs in the North East and N5 billion appear to the Nigerian Foundation for the abutment of victims of terrorism, accustomed by Mr. President as allotment of Federal Government pledge.
It is this convenance of breach ecological funds that Lawan wants the National Assembly to block through legislation. He wants the ecological appointment to become an academy and able in the acquittal of its responsibilities.
“We charge ensure that government attends to these ecological problems because bodies are afflicted as they lose their lands, acreage and villages,” Lawan stated.
Sponsor of the Abrasion Ascendancy and Prevention Commission Bill, Ubah, fabricated a agnate submission. His words: “Almost every allotment of this country is characterised by one ecology botheration or the other. But the annoyance of abrasion is unarguably the severest in agreement of confusion and destruction. For instance, the 2012 calamity in Ibadan, Oyo State; the littoral abrasion in Lagos, Bayelsa and Rivers States and about all genitalia of Anambra State. It is additionally actual important to agenda that gully abrasion is about demography over the absolute landmass of the Southeast and South-south,” he said.
The Anambra agent was not authoritative apocryphal claims as the afterward letters indicate:
‘Government Should Treat 900 Alive Abrasion Sites In Anambra As National Emergency’From Uzoma Nzeagwu and Osiberoha Osibe, AwkaAnambra Accompaniment majorly faces an ecological claiming in the breadth of erosion, with no beneath than 900 sites according to the accompaniment government.
The alive abrasion sites in the accompaniment accommodate Agulu Lake, Agumgbala-Mbaukwu, Ohia-Ozu Ifite-Ogwari, Abiakam quarters, Umuoru and Isiomachere villages in Uga, Enugwu-Abari Nsugbe, Enuagu – Enugwu-Ukwu, Nkissi Aroli – Onitsha, Amaeze Agulueri, Igboezunu Aguleri, Nwakpodolu Etate Awka, Umu Onicha-Ebenebe, Shell Camp Achalla, and Aquinas and Mirate Hotel breadth Awka.
Investigations by The Guardian showed that the confusion would acceptable aggravate afore the end of this year’s backing season. Some abrasion sites at Uga in Aguata Bounded Government Breadth of the accompaniment were bleeding architect aback The Guardian visited the area, as gully abrasion had swallowed no beneath than 10 buildings. This was in accession to the abolition of anchorage and bread-and-butter crops in Abiakam quarters, Umuoru and Isiomachere villages in the area.
In September 2019, gully abrasion done off houses and added acreage account millions of naira in Abiakam, including the grave of the backward Gabriel Abiakam who was alive in 1974 and that of his son, the backward Ignatius Abiakam, who was alive on May 2, 2019. St. Michael’s Church, a bazaar and a alley arch to Obizi Baptize Scheme, Uga accept additionally been affected.
The traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Steve Chidi Ezewugo, the Obi of Uga and Francis Agba, a association baton in Umueze-Uga, both accepted that the association had accounting to the Nigeria Abrasion and Watershed Management Activity (NEWMAP) for advice to no avail. As the rains admission in intensity, the association were anxious that added amercement could occur.
Chinedu Abiakam, a lawyer, lamented that genitalia of his association had been done off by the annoyance while the actual genitalia abide beneath threat.
“The abrasion has claimed 10 houses and counting and destroyed bread-and-butter copse and crops. Abounding parents and accouchement accept been rendered alone and alone alike as their bureau of alimentation accept been assuredly destroyed.
“In Uga, we accept been absolutely cut off and displaced, with boilerplate to go. We are ambrosial to government at all levels to assure what is larboard of our affiliated homes and abetment in relocating us to a safer place. The absolute bulk so far absent runs into billions and the blackmail is still mounting,” Abiakam said.
He continued: “We had accounting to the NEWMAP to acquaint them about our plight and accessible way to intervene, but we were told to ability out to the government. We accept additionally gone to our governor, Chief Willie Obiano to save us from this animal development. All efforts to get the governor to arbitrate accept accepted abortive. Our affiliate in the Anambra Accompaniment Abode of Assembly, Hon. Ik Umeh has additionally aloft the bulk on the attic of the abode as a bulk of burning importance, but till date, annihilation has been done. Our Abode of Representatives member, Chuma Umeoji, is alive to accompany the bulk to the attic of the Abode and draw the absorption of the Federal Government.”
In Umudim apple in Ekwulummiri town, Nnewi South Board Breadth of the state, there is apparent abhorrence amid the association afterward the massive gully abrasion advancing into farmlands and homesteads in the community.
A appointment to the breadth shows that the gully abrasion was fast advancing appear residential barrio aback this year’s rains set in, and has additionally cut off two adjoining villages of Umudim in Ekwulummiri and Umudim in Amichi Boondocks both in Nnewi Board Area.
Some of the villagers bidding anguish over their safety. They abhorrent the development on what they alleged beam floods from Igboukwu, Ikenga, Oraeri and genitalia of Amichi into their area.
The Vice-Chairman of Umudim Apple and affiliate of Ekwulummiri Acceptable Board cabinet, Chief Godfrey Okoye, said acceptance there had been visits by some government admiral to the sites, no efforts had been fabricated to accost the land.
“It was a huge claiming which no accumulation of individuals or association could salvage. The aftermost time we had a appointment by either accompaniment or federal governments was in 2018 but annihilation was done. As you can see, it is accepting worse. We charge help, burning advice from the government to advice ascendancy the abrasion and accost the land,” Okoye noted.
On his part, the President General of Ekwulummiri, Chief Clement Ezeifedikwa, lamented that the abrasion has done off the road, which affiliated Ekwulummiri to Orsumenyi through Amichi.
Ezeifedikwa recalled that there are about four of such gully sites of according consequence aggressive to ablution the absolute boondocks away, abacus that NEWMAP visited the sites about three years ago. “We anticipation the day of conservancy was abreast but as we speak, we accept not heard from them,” he added.
Also speaking, Mrs Victoria Ezeifedikwa, who is in her 80s, said the abrasion annoyance started about 1970 but bidding abjure that no abetment had appear their way aback then.
“The alone assailment was actuality mitigated by the efforts of the bodies including myself. We buried copse and added banknote crops, but the abundant acreage we had able over the years has been done abroad by the assiduous flood,” Mrs Ezeifedikwa said.
Speaking with The Guardian, the Permanent Secretary in the accompaniment Admiral of Environment, Dr. Emmanuel Okafor, said NEWMAP was amid in about 20 abrasion sites.
Okafor said there were abounding abrasion sites allurement for intervention, acquainted that the accompaniment government had bound assets and was attractive up to the Federal Government for assistance.
“If you go through Anambra State, you will acquisition out that the landmass is shrinking because of erosion. Anambra Accompaniment is bleeding erosion-wise and the Federal Government should acknowledge an emergency in the state. Anambra Accompaniment should be declared an abrasion adversity state,” he said.
According to him, the accompaniment was mapping alive and arising abrasion sites so as to apperceive the bulk of money appropriate to accouterment them. He said that the accompaniment government was accomplishing his best to ensure that the adverse aftereffect of abrasion was wiped out in the state, affirmation that the accompaniment bare able-bodied banking abutment to accomplish that.
Illegal Miners Compound Plateau’s Ecological ProblemsFrom Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi, Jos Plateau Accompaniment is one of the states in Nigeria that have suffered the ecological problems of desertification and erosion. Experts say that tin mining, which took abode abounding decades ago beyond all the bounded governments in the arctic and axial zones of the state, acquired these problems.
Presently, tin mining ponds accept become afterlife accessories to association in the afflicted areas. Aback The Guardian visited some communities in Jos South, Barkin Ladi, Riyom and Bokkos, it was apparent that no assignment had been done to accost the ambiance by the government in contempo years. The aftermost attack to accost the afflicted areas was fabricated over 20 years ago by the asleep National Acreage Development Bureau (NALDA) in the backward 80s and aboriginal 90s.
Also, the Riyom abrasion ascendancy activity was awarded during the aggressive administering but was afterwards abandoned. Meanwhile, the abrasion has about cut off the Jos-Abuja federal highway.
The ancestors of Pam Dan Gwom in Du District of the accompaniment told The Guardian that they were still in pains over the afterlife of three associates of the ancestors in one of the mining ponds.
Contacted on why the ecological challenges in the accompaniment accept remained abandoned to, the accompaniment Abettor for Environment, Usman Yakubu Idi, said the activity was actuality accomplished in bristles phases.
Idi explained that appearance one of the activity alleged New Map stretches from Plateau Club to the Bingham University Teaching Hospital, abacus that is was a World Bank project.
He said the engineering architecture of the activity and the added four phases had been completed but were apprehension final reports.
Idi, however, said the ecological problems of the accompaniment were actuality circuitous by the activities of actionable miners and acreage developers who body on waterways.
He added that the ministry, in a bid to abate abrasion challenges in the state, was accommodating with the Admiral of Agriculture to sensitise farmers on abrasion ascendancy measures, acceptance that the activities of actionable miners were compounding the problem.
On his part, the Abettor for Mineral Development, Jude Dakur, said the ecological problems of the accompaniment were actuality tackled. 500 Gully Abrasion Sites Threaten Imo CommunitiesFrom Charles Ogugbuaja, OwerriIn Imo State, best villages in the 27 Bounded Government Areas (LGAs) of the accompaniment are actively actuality threatened by gully abrasion sites calculation about 500 in total.
The causes ambit from actionable mining to beach dredging activities, sub-standard architecture assignment and accustomed causes.
As a aftereffect of the growing ecology degradation, the Imo Accompaniment government has banned all forms of mining aural Owerri municipality.
Of above apropos to the accompaniment are the gully abrasion sites at Urualla in Ideato North LGA, which is actuality handled by Arab Contractors and the one at Akwakuma area in Owerri North LGA. Abounding association who own landed acreage in the areas accept been arrant out to both the federal and accompaniment governments for help.
Also of affair is the abrasion botheration that has cut off the Inland Alley from Owerri basic burghal to neighbouring Nekede in Owerri West LGA. The alley was complete during the Rochas Okorocha administration, authoritative experts to aspect the abrasion claiming there to sub-standard construction.
Gully abrasion is additionally aggressive to cut off the Owerri-Aba alley but allegation showed the accompaniment government was accumulative efforts to accouterment the problem.
A citizen in Urualla, John Igwe, said they were abashed that their affiliated homes ability be absent if annihilation was done actively to abode the situation.
His words: “The gully abrasion actuality is huge. We are abashed of it. Assignment has been suspended. We aggregate that they owe them. We are ambrosial to government to save us because we do not apperceive breadth to go and alive in our houses cavern in.”
Another citizen in Akwakuma area, Emma Ogu, said: “We are ambrosial to both the accompaniment and federal governments to appear to our aid and fix the abrasion all-knowing Akwakuma, abreast Owerri. We adored money, bought acreage and congenital on it in adjustment to own our homes, but abrasion is aggressive our houses. We are arrant for help. Anytime it rains, the botheration increases. We acquisition it difficult to admission our homes. We don’t beddy-bye with our eyes bankrupt now. The calamity and accompanying abrasion there is huge.”
Rain Has Become A Curse Instead Of Blessing, Say Enugu CommunitiesFrom Lawrence Njoku, EnuguIn 2018 aback he commissioned remediated abrasion sites at the 9th-mile bend in Udi and Ajalli channel in Ezeagu, Enugu Accompaniment Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, had said the accompaniment was decumbent to gully erosion, affirmation that the annoyance had connected to bankrupt landscape, blow farmlands and ablution abroad property, amid others.
Inaugurating the projects completed by the accompaniment government with abutment from World Bank’s Nigeria Abrasion and Watershed Management Activity (NEWMAP), he said that seven austere gully abrasion sites existed in the state.
Although he mentioned alone the sites at Onuiyi Haven and Ohom Orba, Nsukka, he added that engineering designs had been completed and accustomed for armpit intervention.
But there is no agnosticism that the efforts of NEWMAP have not been able to accommodate the burglary annoyance of gully abrasion in the state. This is as floodwater has connected to annihilate homes, offices and farmlands in Udi, Ngwo, Nsukka and added areas anytime it rains heavily.
The Accompaniment Coordinator of NEWMAP, Mr Vincent Obetta, declared that afar from the completed gully abrasion sites, the bureau was amid in several others including Umuavuru, breadth he said that 70 per cent of the works had been completed.
He declared that the bureau was accomplishment and rechanneling baptize aural Ngwo in Enugu North bounded board in Izata, Amauzam, St. Theresa, Colliery and Agbaja abrasion sites, as able-bodied as genitalia of Udi/Ozalla gully abrasion sites.
“We are authoritative appropriate into Onuiyi Nsukka/Ala-Uno, Anyazurum/Ohom Orba, Immiliki Etiti, Obollo Etiti and Obollo Eke, amid others. We don’t accept any claiming at the moment as the accompaniment government and World Bank has connected to cull calm their analogue funds to ensure that accustomed projects get attention,” he said.
He was, however, quick to add that NEWMAP had an eight-year activity span, which would end by June abutting year.
To ensure that the problems abide to accept absorption aback the NEWMAP eventually withdraws, Obetta said there was a bill already afore the accompaniment Abode of Assembly for the enactment of Enugu Accompaniment Abrasion and Watershed Management Bureau (ESEWMA).
Nonetheless, allegation by The Guardian showed that gully abrasion confusion added genitalia of the accompaniment like Obinofia Ndiuno in Ezeagu bounded council. For seven years, the bodies of the breadth accept suffered untold blow as a aftereffect of the menace, which has cut off some associates of the association from their affiliated homeland.
The erosion, it was gathered, was acquired by the aberration of floodwater from neighbouring communities of Nachi, Umumba, Obeleagu and Amokwe.
A appointment to the association showed that economic and amusing activities were at the everyman ebb, as association no best confused advisedly to abstain actuality swept abroad by flood whenever it rained.
Residential buildings, schools and electrical installations accept burst into the gully while some associates of the association accept relocated to assurance afterwards the aggressive flood swept off their homes.
The alley arch from Nkwo Ezeagu alliance to the community, which is still beneath architecture by CGC Architecture Company, is about cut off. This is as the architect has been affective at snail’s speed, an adumbration that the activity may not be completed anon with the rains now intensifying.
Sources, however, said the architecture assignment has been on aback the accomplished eight years.
An eighty-year-old indigene of Okposi Obinofia Ndiuno, Mrs. Victoria Ozoilo, said the flood had fabricated activity afflicted for associates of the association as they lived in abundant abhorrence and uncertainty, abnormally during the backing season. She acclaimed that rain, which affliction to be a blessing, has become a antecedent of affliction to them.
A motorcycle addition in the community, Mr. Toochukwu Obi, said that due to the afflictive accompaniment of the road, a adventure that amount amid N200 and N300 ahead now amount N1000.
‘Delta Has Not Benefited From Ecological Fund’From Sony Neme, AsabaDelta Accompaniment Abettor for Environment, Christian Onogha, has said the accompaniment has not benefited from the ecological armamentarium aback he affected office.
Speaking with The Guardian in Asaba, the accompaniment capital, he said the aberration of ecological armamentarium was condemnable.
His words: “The affair of how the armamentarium is actuality managed is article that every analytical stakeholder frowns at. I angle to be corrected, because to my ability the accompaniment has not accustomed a dime from the ecological fund, at atomic not aback I affected appointment as the Abettor for Environment. Again, I feel afflicted that the Federal Government has not been able to unbundle the action so that states like Delta will account from it.
“If you attending at Delta State, for example, we are in actual difficult terrain, abnormally the arctic allotment of the state. You will be abashed at the admeasurement of confusion at Ika South, Ika North West, Oshimili North and Aniocha North; we accept a lot of ecological challenges. If you accept anytime gone about seeing the burglary confusion of gully abrasion in the accompaniment you will weep. In all of these, the Federal Government does not assume to feel these challenges we face in this allotment of the state.
“When I resumed office, I went annular to see things for myself and was abashed at the akin of gully claiming that is accustomed here, abnormally at Owa Nta in Ika Notth West, which was aboriginal attempted to be tackled over 40 years ago by the aggressive government of again Colonel Samuel Ogbemudia in the old Midwest State. Aback then, the akin of confusion increased. Amid aback the abstraction to arbitrate was mooted and aback the World Bank eventually intervened, it has gone from bad to worse, so abundant so that the ambit of assignment that was captured by the World Bank, afore now, may not be able to abode the gully claiming that we accept on the arena there. Aforementioned additionally at Obomkpa, Ukunzu; around every allotment of Delta North is ravaged by gully erosion.”
He apprenticed the National Assembly to appear up with a legislation that would decentralise the action of accessing the armamentarium and absolute the Federal Government’s captivation to authoritative how the funds were actuality deployed.
“I can assure you that the government of the South-south states breadth we accept these gully challenges, alive it has to do with the actuality of their people, will not alter such funds. The accompaniment government will abutment any bill that will accomplish it accessible for states to admission the fund.”
Onogha said the National Board on Ambiance absolute of all Commissioners for Ambiance in the 36 states and the Minister of Ambiance accept deliberated on the ecological challenges against the states.
“Now the rains are here; a lot of the bodies beyond all the states would suffer. We assume to be speaking with the aforementioned articulation as we charge a action that would accomplish it easier for states to admission the funds for the claiming that affects around all the states of the federation. There is no agnostic articulation aback it comes to this issue,” he noted.
The abettor said the accompaniment had been acclamation its ecological problems headlong.
“For instance, the accompaniment has aback boarded on a massive underground stormwater activity that has to a ample admeasurement tackled the abiding calamity in the accompaniment capital. That is allotment of our action in arrest ecological challenges. It is actuality replicated in Warri and its bound to arrest the abrasion menace, with a arrangement awarded to body an underground drain.
“The accompaniment has in accord with the World Bank intervened at the Owa Nta decade-old gullies, with over sixty percent of jobs done. Alone aftermost Wednesday, we did the bid for the action at Obomkpa, Ukunzu and Jesse. The accompaniment is additionally accommodating with the World Bank on that also. These are projects that run into billions of naira. We will not delay endlessly as our bodies will be the one adversity it.”
On the affair of oil spillages, Onogha said: “There are factors that are amenable for that, which are accessories failures, third affair activities breadth vandals appoint in bread-and-butter demolition that leads to oil discharge and thirdly an blow could action from oil exploration. But in the breadth of third parties, we appoint our bodies in advancement and awareness, abnormally those who are hosts to oil facilities.
“We do not angle to accretion if we vandalise pipelines in an attack to carry awkward oil that passes through our communities. But aback it apropos oil spills from either accessories failures or accidents from oil explorations again the law on Joint Analysis Appointment (JIV) takes place. My admiral is a analytical allotment of that team, so we go on analysis and the International oil companies (IOCs) will do aggregate accessible to arrest the situation. Whichever way it comes, the IOCs move in, and if it warrants payments of damages, we do not alternate to ensure that is taken affliction of.
“A few months ago there was a spill, which led to the accident of amphibian lives that usually affect the alimentation and abridgement of our bodies in the littoral areas. The accompaniment government does not abutting its eyes on the affair of spills as we accord it the austere absorption it deserves.”
On arrest desertification, he appear that affairs were on to recruit backwoods guards to ensure that behavior of the government apropos afforestation and timberline burying are implemented to the later.
He apprenticed advantaged individuals in the accompaniment to advance the way by burying copse in their compounds.
He added: “The accompaniment government is auspicious anybody to bulb a tree. We are about 200 actor Nigerians. If 100 actor of us bulb bristles copse anniversary that will advice in no baby admeasurement against able afforestation in the country. It is alone fair that accepting our copse aback will advice to accompany aback our advantageous lives as best aerial diseases would accept been eliminated.
“Through accessible enlightenment, we are accustomed our bodies forth and the government is saying, if you are not accessible to bulb bristles copse in your lifetime, you accept no business acid bottomward a tree. We are additionally extensive out to the IOCs and added companies operating in Delta to accomplice with us either in banknote or in-kind and the acknowledgment amount has been encouraging. The admiral is additionally accepting a ample nursery breadth altered types of copse are actuality nursed. We intend to bulb in a abbreviate while.
“If you attending at our forestry laws, it doesn’t acquiesce for banknote crops, but abundant trees. But over time there accept been agitations to abate the forests and bulb banknote crops to admission the bread-and-butter abject of the state, as the government is additionally introducing a policy. And that is, if you are accustomed 10 hectares to bulb banknote crops, you charge address 10 per cent of that amplitude of acreage for trees. That way, you will be advisedly creating a forest. That is what Edo Accompaniment is accomplishing and Delta is additionally keying into that.”
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