Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, hosted a town hall meeting on erosion control and management with stakeholders from five communities in the state affected largely 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 stated that, pending the full adoption of the law, he will 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 in my manifesto is based on the environment toward green, clean, planned markets, communities, and cities to make our environment sustainable,” the Governor remarked.
While learning about the reasons and solutions to erosion, Soludo underlined that when individuals point fingers at the government, they should keep in mind that four fingers are pointed back at them.
“As an individual, what have you done today and tomorrow to combat the erosion threat?” he inquired.
Soludo observed that the greatest moment to act was decades ago! The second best time to act is now, emphasizing the need to define our 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.”
“We already have a draft environmental law that will help to punish offenders,” Soludo said.
The Governor, who bemoaned that Anambra has never had a good plan and design for water channelization, revealed that channel openings in Onitsha have already begun, adding that this is the revolution that must begin in other areas.
He emphasized that environmental preservation must become a way of life because it is 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,” 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 President-Generals is to save their towns from extinction by educating the public about environmental preservation.
“Anambra is heavily impacted by two natural disasters: flooding and gully erosion!” The Governor warned that “controlling flooding alone will consume over N900 billion, which is Anambra’s total budget for many years.”
Finally, Soludo stated that there would be marching funds for the five communities that will provide designated places where the government can begin tree planting to combat erosion.
Earlier, the TC Chairman of Orumba North, Mayor Ogochukwu Ekwueme welcomed Soludo to Orumba. He called on the Governor to enact a legal framework that will stop sand mining in the area which is a leading cause of erosion.
On his part, the Commissioner for Environment, Engr. Felix Odimegwu, thanked Soludo for working with the villages affected by erosion, including; Nanka, Awgbu, Oko, Amaokpala, Ekwulobia, and it’s environs.
He stated that a new law will be established to encourage large tree planting, which is an excellent measure to curb erosion, and to ensure that new houses built will build drainages to channel flow of water properly.
Chief of Staff, Mr Ernest Ezeajughi, Commissioner for Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Barr. Anthony Ifeanya, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr. Tony Collins Nwabunwanne, Accountant-General, Dr. Chukwudi Okoli, President-General Oko Community, Comrade Luke Nweke, MD Anambra Erosion, Watershed and Climate Change, Prof. Phil Eze amongst others attended the meeting.