‘Ocean surge swallows 15 towns, submerges 75’
Chris Chimezie & Kemi Olatunde
No fewer than fifteen towns in the southern part of Ondo state have disappeared in the last 20 years while between 50 and 75 others have also been submerged due to ocean inundation.
Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), disclosed this at the opening ceremony of the 12th National Council on Environment held at the International Culture and Event Centre (The Dome) in Akure.
He said: “This situation continues as we speak, the Central Senatorial District is home to seasonal flooding with devastating effect on lives and properties, while erosion have rendered farmlands uncultivable in the northern part of the state.
“With these myriads of environmental challenges, it becomes pertinent for us to seek the help of the Federal Government as it concerns the National Ecological Fund. It is my expectation that our request will be granted”.
Akeredolu, however, suggested that the challenges could be subdued by the use of technology and through borrowing and adopting environmentally, sustainable and cost effective processes from other nations.
While noting that the two initiatives have helped in cushioning the post-traumatic effects of all categories of disaster in the country, Akeredolu stressed the urgent need to create an Environmental Disaster Emergency Response Fund that would rehabilitate victims of related disaster.
He expressed displeasure over the damages done to communities by environmental problems which turns our environment to our enemy when natural disasters occur.
Environmental disaster respects no nation and there is no distinction between developed and developing nations, he said.
Governor Akeredolu who said Nigeria was not spared the menace of environmental problems, mentioned incidences like Ogunpa flood in Ibadan, severe flooding in Lokoja, the extremely gully erosion in majority of the Southeast States and the massive landslides in Nanka in Anambra state as examples of environment problems which had occurred in Nigeria.
Addressing the gathering, Minister of State for Environment, Alhaji. Ibrahim Usman Jibril while thanking the governor for the hospitality accorded him, and lamented the level of damage caused by the sea incursion in Ayetoro community and stressing the need for quick intervention.
While calling on all Environment Commissioners across the country to familiarise themselves with environmental issues, he explained that this would enable them get things done rightly.
He described environmental challenges as man-made and advised Nigerians to change their attitude towards the environment.
However, he charged states to complement the effort of the Federal Government by encouraging more research in the area of ecological challenges which would be useful in tackling these challenges and added that programmes should be put in place in all the states as regards this to prevent the environment issue from becoming health issue.
Also, Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment, Senator Oluremi Tinubu who was represented by ‘Sen. Foster Oghola noted that the theme of the event was germane as it focuses on the viability of existing environmental laws, policies and regulations in achieving sustainable development.
She however, canvassed the need for increased funding of environmental technology research, increase in budgetary allocation to environmental issues and effective implementation of the annual budget of the Federal Ministry of Environment.