Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja
The amount being requested by various communities, groups and politicians for the control of soil erosion and flooding in their respective surroundings from the Ecological Fund Office is now over N1.1tn, the agency has said.
It stated that despite the increased demand for ecological attention in communities across the country, it was only getting between N12bn and N15bn quarterly to address erosion and flood problems in different parts of the country.
The EFO, an agency under the Presidency, was set up as a strategic instrument to manage the nation’s ecological challenges as well as curtail the growing and worrisome nature of Nigeria’s environmental problems.
The Permanent Secretary, EFO, Mrs. Habiba Lawal, stated at a press conference in Abuja that since May 2015, the agency had awarded 88 ecological projects, completed 47, while 41 were ongoing.
She said, “There are many critical sites across the country. You wouldn’t know which is which and for the choice on which one to handle, you try to see that the worst of them all is being given priority. So, if everybody brings his or her problems, then the money is not there to solve them. However, it is a work in progress.
“We have the data of requests from various groups and the last was about N1.1tn, and that is specifically for soil erosion and flood control. That does not include drought, desertification and coastal zone management, nor does it include pollution control. But I will tell you that the largest chunk of our work is in soil erosion and flood control. And of the 88 projects that are ongoing, almost 90 per cent of them are in soil erosion and flood control.”
Lawal stated that based on the instruction of President Muhammadu Buhari, her office carried out a comprehensive national survey of ecological zones, variations, scope and severity of sites across the country.
She noted that the survey updated the Federal Government’s data bank on ecological problems in all parts of the country, adding that it was aimed at providing a holistic, pragmatic and reliable source of information on ecological challenges in Nigeria.
“It will ensure an evidence-based and strategic project selection and management process. About 2,890 sites were visited during the exercise, which was carried out in three phases from August to December 2017,” the permanent secretary said.
Lawal further stated that while the Federal Government continues to deploy its share of the Ecological Fund to solve problems, it was hoped that rather than rely completely on the Federal Government, states and local governments would apply their own shares of the fund to ameliorate the challenges in their areas.
“This comprehensive approach requires that every tier of government plays its part well with the resources available to it. If the entire problems were left to the Federal Government alone, much less impact would ensue overall, because of the extent and severity of ecological problems across the country,” she added.
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