House of Representatives Chairman on Environment and Habitat, Obinna Chidoka is not happy with the state of infrastructure in the South East geo-political zone. He speaks on various issues.
What are you doing to address environmental issues across the country, notably, gully erosion in the South-East zone, coastal erosion in the Southwest/South south and desertification in the North?
Thank you for this sensitive question. Issues of the environment are very close to my heart and my committee is and will continue to work tirelessly to address this multifaceted issues. We have been working closely with the Ministry of Environment and other relevant agencies to bring environmental matters to the front burner. Recently, we were in the South-East zone on oversight visit to communities with severe gully erosion issues and in February, we shall be visiting Ogoni land and other geo-political zones to assess the state of environmental degradation in those areas. We are not relenting even though the task might be daunting, but we will keep highlighting these issues and drawing attention to these matters. Yes, as Chairman I am saddled with the responsibility of environment and habitat. For us, it is a holistic view of environmental issues we have all over the country. Some of them can be attributed to climate change where we have heavy or lack of rain fall which can lead to gully erosion or desertification and rising sea level.
It is interesting to note that as a committee, there are very serious issues to us and the Federal Government. All necessary legislations have been put in place to address these challenges, hence we are looking up North to have what we call, The “Great Green War Agency” (GGWA) which is saddled with addressing desertification in the 11 states in the North. Because it is established by the Act of parliament, the great green war will be funded by one per cent accruing from the Federation Account. In the Chad Basin, the lake has receded tremendously. Also down the South-East, there is gully erosion. So, the committee engaged in a tour of some states in the zone to have first-hand information of erosion and the issues of the Ecological Funds office which is established to address ecological issues and other issues as discretion of the president.
There are worse cases of erosion that needs urgent attention such as Nnanka, Oko/Ekwulobia in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State. Of course, the Ecological Fund office had approved fund for the first phase to take care of the menace in 2012. So, we are going to request for approval for the second phase because we are going to lose more lands and families will also lose homes if nothing is done before the next rainy season. To me, most areas in the South-East should be declared emergency disaster zones to address environmental issues there. Also, the rising sea level and land degradation in the South-south is another serious challenge.