By Jude Michael
Anambra State Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, has tasked Communities to join hands with the government in erosion preventive measures.
Governor Soludo made the call when he hosted a town hall meeting on erosion control and management with stakeholders from five communities in the state, largely affected by gully erosion.
The 5 out of 146 communities affected by gully erosion in the state are Nanka, Awgbu, Oko, Amaokpala and Ekwulobia.
The Governor also announced that, pending the full adoption of the law, he would sign an executive order prohibiting sand mining near erosion-prone areas.
The town hall meeting tagged; “Delivering the Solution Mandate in Erosion Control”, was held at Oko Civic Centre.
‘The environment is Anambra’s most serious existential threat. The fifth finger of my administration’s manifesto is based on the environment; towards green, clean, planned markets, communities, and cities to make our environment sustainable,’ the governor said.
He also stated that part of the challenge was that individuals had the wrong attitude towards the environment but expected the government to do everything instead of contributing their quota as well.
‘As an individual, what have you done today and tomorrow to combat the erosion threat?’ he inquired.
Governor Soludo observed that the greatest moment to act was decades ago, saying that the second best time to act was now, emphasizing the need to define the individual and collective responsibilities.
‘Active gully erosion is occurring in 146 Anambra communities which constitutes 81.5%. The five communities that have assembled here today are at the epicenter of gully erosion. If we do enough of what we are meant to do, the rate of erosion will be reduced to 80%.
‘An action plan on sand mining law, regulation and enforcement, community sensitization, revenue collection, a statewide awareness campaign, designing roads for proper water channelization, and building catchment pits, among other things, shall be established,’ the governor stated.
He disclosed that there was already in place, a draft environmental law that would help to punish offenders.
The Governor bemoaned what he described as the lack of a good plan and design for water channelization in Anambra State.
He revealed that channel openings in Onitsha had already begun, adding that it was the revolution that must begin in other areas.
Soludo emphasized that environmental preservation must become a way of life because it was an existential threat.
‘If you want to save society, it will not be an easy task. If you don’t have the courage to make difficult decisions as a community leader, you should resign,’ Governor Soludo insisted.
The governor urged each community to establish a standing committee and an inter-community action team, as well as a robust enforcement arm.
He stated that the major responsibility of Presidents-General remained to save their towns from extinction by educating the public about environmental preservation.
Soludo warned that Anambra was heavily impacted by two natural disasters which he listed as flooding and gully erosion, while he warned that controlling flooding alone would consume over N900 billion, which, he said, was Anambra’s total budget for many years.
He further announced that there would be matching funds for the five communities that would provide designated places where the government could begin tree planting to combat erosion.
Earlier, while welcoming the governor, the Transition Committee Chairman for Orumba North, Mr. Ogochukwu Ekwueme, called on the governor to enact a legal framework that would help stop sand mining in the area which he described as a leading cause of erosion.
For his part, the Commissioner for Environment, Engr. Felix Odimegwu, thanked the governor for working with the villages affected by erosion, including, Nanka, Awgbu, Oko, Amaokpala, Ekwulobia, and its environs.
He disclosed that a new law would be established to encourage large tree planting which he described as an excellent measure to curb erosion, and to ensure that new houses built would construct drainages to channel water properly.
Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr Ernest Ezeajughi; Commissioner for Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Barr. Anthony Ifeanya; Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr. Tony-Collins Nwabunwanne; President-General, Oko Community, Comrade Luke Nweke; Managing Director, Anambra Erosion, Watershed and Climate Change, Prof. Phil Eze; among others, attended the meeting.