Executive Secretary, Benue State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Dr Boniface Ortese, has called for direct funding of state emergency management agencies to tackle the effect of disasters across the country.
Ortese told Newsmen in Makurdi that the state emergency management agencies in the country were in dire need of funding to enable them to discharge their duties effectively.
He, therefore, solicited the financial autonomy of the agencies to prevent governors from interfering with their funding.
According to him, the agencies are overwhelmed with emergency management processes, considering the paucity of funds at their disposal.
“The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is a little bit okay, when compared to SEMAs, but I am generalising this because what affects me here also affects my colleagues in other states too.
“When you hear about the huge budget of NEMA, the situation with SEMAs in states is quite different; you have to be in the good books of your governor before he can listen to you.
“What ought to be is not what is on the ground, what ought to be is that there should be quick response for all emergencies but at times, it is very difficult because of protocols.
“An approval is made and before it reaches the endpoint, it takes days but that thing is no longer an emergency, as emergency requires quick response.
“For instance, the budget of this office is N150 million but then there is a problem, we are told that not implementing the budget is a crime.
“But how will you go boldly and tell your governor that this is the situation on ground. This has been our problem. We need direct funding without the intervention from state governors,” he added.
On the issue of wheelbarrows which NEMA donated to the state, Ortese said that he decided to inscribe “Gov. Ortom For You” on the wheelbarrows to differentiate them from the ones in the market.
“I was the initiator of bringing relief materials from Abuja; I brought 900 wheelbarrows, 900 hoes, 900 cutlasses and 900 raincoats for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the state,” he said.
The SEMA boss said that when he assumed office in 2015, he discovered that relief materials had been greatly mismanaged during the last administration in the agency, adding that he had to flush the affected staff out.
“I was also aware that trailers of goods were donated to this office during that time but there are no records to show that something of such existed in the agency.
“I only saw the warehouses in which the items were stored but nothing to show; I was informed that when the relief materials came in, they were diverted to other places and sold off.
“Such things will never happen during my time,” he vowed.
Ortese said that over 25,000 households and farmlands were so far affected by the current flood disaster in the state.
Flooding:Task Before Incoming Government
If for nothing else, Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike clearly demonstrated an unparalleled leadership qualities when in the heat of the flood disaster last year the governor quickly responded to the needs of flood ravaged communities by approving a whooping one billion naira to ameliorate their sufferings.
It would be recalled that the flood Management Committee headed by a seasoned technocrat, Dr George Nwaeke, was in every community ravaged by the disaster. Relief materials including cash were given to affected communities across the State.
The 2022 flood was described as a major disaster not just by Nigerians by the international community. The incident affected over 16 states in the country.
In Rivers State for instance, the entire Orashi region was sacked by the incident.
There was complete dislocation of families. Schools turned to refugee camps and even in Abua/Odual,the council hall was turned to a refugee camp.
Faming activities were grounded in places such as Ogba /Egbema/Ndoni Local Government ,Ahoada West and East Local Government Areas , and Abua/Odual.
In far away Soku and Rundele in Akuku Toru and Emohua Local Government Areas respectively, the impact of the disaster was felt.
Neighbouring states of Bayelsa, Delta, Cross River, Anambra and even parts of the North felt the impact of the disaster.
The Government of Cameroun was blamed for the disaster.
According to various opinions across the country,the disaster was caused by the opening of the Lagdo Dam by the Camerounian authorities.
The critics also blamed the government of Nigeria for refusing to build a dam along the River Niger and Benue to contain water from Lagdo dam.
It would be noted that communities affected by the disaster are still counting their loses till today.
In some of the communities visited by the reporter,they complained about the destruction of their farmlands, high rate of malarial infestations and the fact that some of them still live as refugees.
Meanwhile, some Nigerians have been speaking on the impact of the disaster and the role of government in combating future flooding in the country.
A cross section of Nigerians who spoke on the issue said government should start an intensive preparations towards checking perennial flooding in the country..
In a post disaster interview, Prince Sodin Akiagba, a native of Joinkrama Engenni lamented the destructive impact of the disaster on his community.
He said since the abatement of the incident,no government across the country is giving due attention to flood ravaged communities.
According to him, what is dominating discourse is politics, adding that non of the aspirant is even talking about enviromental issues.
Akiagba expressed fears that his people may suffer another disaster this year if nothing is done about it.
He called on government to dredge the Orashi river,while the dam to contain water from Cameroun should be constructed.
Akiagba also called for post flood support for his people.
Speaking last year in an interview,South South zonal director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr Godwin Tepikor said the impact of flood disaster can be minimise if Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps are provided across the zone.
He said communities should take annual flood predictions seriously for early preparations for it.
Tepikor also proposed regular desilting of gutters and drainages, noting that the culture of indescriminate dumping of refuse into drainages be discouraged.
He said NEMA will collaborate with governments across the region with the view to ameliorating the impact of flood disaster on the people.
. Also speaking, the President General of Ogbakor Egbema Aninso, Mr Ify Francis Igwebuike, told The Tide that his people were abandoned to their fate
He lamented the impact on food security in his kingdom,the loss of lives and property by his people and the fact that there hasn’t been any post flood support for the people.
According to him, some rivers and creeks crisscrossing Egbema could be dredged to facilitate movement of waters to the River Niger.
He said rivers such as the Nkisa and other rivulets can be dredged to ensure runoff to river Niger at Ndoni.
According to Igwebuike, these proposals were made a long time ago but successive governments in Nigeria refused to implement them.
The Eze Igbu Ubie of Ubie Kingdom, Ahoada West Local Government Area, HRM Eze Maxwell Augustine Okpokiri, called for a permanent solution to the problem of flooding in the country.
He said his kingdom has always suffered impact of every flood disaster in the country.
Also speaking, a Port Harcourt based enviromental activist, Prince William Chinwo, said both state and federal governments should do something urgently to check future flood disasters in the country.
According to him, measure should also be taken to support communities ravaged by the incident.
Other activists also said measures be taken to check future occurrence of flooding in the country.
It would be noted that by May 2023 a new democratic government will be installed across the country.
The outgoing administrations may have done their best which to some Nigerians their best as far as flooding was concerned is not good enough for the country.
The onus lies on the incoming administrations both at the local government, state and federal governments to think of something new in the area of flood control and mitigation.
By: John Bibor
Noise Pollution: Oyo Housing Corporation Reconciles Aggrieved Residents, Club Operators
The Oyo State Housing Corporation says it has resolved the conflict between residents of Bodija Estate in Ibadan and Club operators over noise pollution and security challenges.
Its Chairman, Mr Bayo Lawal, made this known to newsmen at the end of a peace meeting with members of the association and over 20 club operators in Ibadan.
Lawal said that the corporation superintended over the residents, club owners and other business outfits in the Estate, believing that they should live peacefully among themselves.
The Tide source reports that the association had cried out over the disturbance of peace as a result of noise pollution and other forms of inconveniences caused by the clubs’ operators in the estate.
Lawal said though, the estate was established in 1958 for residential purposes, people should show understanding that there must be changes from time to time.
According to him, over the years this led to coming on board of such commercial and industrial outfits.
He said the corporation felt concerned when it discovered that the peaceful atmosphere being enjoyed by residents in the estate was being threatened by club operators, hence the need to address the challenges.
Lawal said the corporation had resolved and found a meeting point and understanding between residents of the estate and club operators in the area.
According to him, the corporation has laws and powers that can be used to sanction any violator of those laws and agreement reached at the meeting.
Commenting, the Chairman of Bodija Estate Residents Association, Mr Folu Bademosi,said the meeting resolved that the club operators should reduce their noise as from 10.00 p.m.
On how to tackle insecurity and prostitution among others, Bademosi said that a committee has been set up to monitor compliance.
On behalf of club operators, Mr Taiwo Salami, said they would do everything humanly possible to comply with agreement and ensure that residents of the area were no longer disturbed with their activities.
Flood: IFAD Disburses $1.7 m To Farmers
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) says it will disburse 1.7 million dollars to support farmers affected by floods in nine states of the country before ending of the year.
IFAD Country Director, Dede Ekoue, said this on the sideline of the Federal Government/IFAD-Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) Mid Term Review (MTR) Mission Stakeholders Wrap-Up Workshop in Abuja.
Ekoue, who identified the total flood recovery response for 2022 as 1.7 million dollars, said the organisation had made an initial allocation of 600,000 dollars to farmers in some of the VCDP-benefitting states.
According to her, the distribution of the fund in support of VCDP beneficiaries has already started for dry season farming in Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger, Anambra, and Enugu States.
“The process will be accelerated this December and early next year.
“The 1.7 million dollars is coming from the regular funding of VCDP,” she said.
Ekoue explained that the gesture was in response to the yearnings of farmers in the course of MTR mission across the VCDP-benefiting states in the country.
She said, “what was important to farmers in the course of visitation is for them to adapt more to help them recover, while the second one is to continue to strengthen the marketing aspect, especially for cassava.
“We noticed that there are more opportunities to strengthen the market aspect for cassava producers; for rice producers, a lot of progress has been made.”
National Programme Coordinator, IFAD-VCDP, Dr Fatima Aliyu, said through the intervention, the organisation and the government will support each of the over 2,000 targeted farmers with 40kg of seed, four bags of NPK, and two bags of Urea.
The farmers, according to her, will also be supported with two litres of herbicides and water pumps for each hectare of farmland that will be rehabilitated, capacity building, and extension services.
“We are training them on good agronomic practices to be abreast on how to cultivate their crops in the dry season.
“We have been doing it but felt we should do more to enable them have a very bumper harvest,”
Director, International Economic Relations Department, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Aisha Omar, said that the MTR was purposely to assess the performance of the project, determine challenges impeding implementation, the relevance of different component and activities in view of current circumstances.
She said such will enable concerned organisations to decide “if there is the need to restructure the project”.
Omar assured that the department was committed to working with partners and project teams at States and Federal levels to meet the project development objectives and ensure value for money in those facilities obtained.
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