The people of Ibori, Ugbalo, Ewu-Eguare, Idogalo and Oludide communities of Edo State need urgent help from President Goodluck Jonatha over the gully erosion that is threatening their existence.
The various community leaders that spoke with newsmen including Alhaji Gaz Momoh, the Daudu of Oludide Village; Asene Mike Iyere, head of Ibori and Mallam Mutaro Ibramai of Ewu said that over 23 persons had so far been washed away by the ravaging gully erosion that is forcing them into extinction.
For instance, in Ibori-Uneah, the gully erosion that had so far claimed eight persons and eight houses, have also cut the community from Ugbalo and Uwessan. Pa, Mike Iyere, a teacher and community head told LEADERSHIP that over 10 houses are currently been threaten.
“My son, two persons died some days ago from high blood pressure, because their houses will go any moment from now. These old men have no means of building another house. They are common farmer. We cannot leave the village any more, we are cut off. We don’t know what will happen next”.
The Daudu of Oludide village in Auchi, said that over 500 houses, and15 persons had so far been lost in the gully erosion that is sending the entire Auchi into extinction. While pleading with President Jonathan to do something urgently, Alhaji Daudu said that hundreds of houses seriously been threatened if it rains.
Speaking on the issues, the commissioner for Environment, Prince Clem Agba, said that the government is aware of about 110 active gully erosion sites in the state.
“We have taken inventory of all of these sites. This very site is called Oshiobugie gully site and it is the biggest we have in the state.
“It used to be seven fingers, but with a recent survey of the area, we discovered that new fingers are beginning to develop, and that is why we decided to visit the areas to see where these fingers have come from. We are doing quite a number of studies including resettlement studies to have a plan to settle all those who live around these areas”.
“Mr. President had approved the Nigeria erosion watershed management programme, which is for five Eastern states with cross-river and Edo State. It’s going to be World Bank funded. The board of directors of the World Bank approved $650 million facility, but the issue is there is this imbroglio between the presidency and the National Assembly.
“They have not been able to approve the national borrowing plan and until that plan is approved, none of the seven states can assess the fund to begin to deal with the problem of erosion. Hopefully if the national borrowing plan is approved, we should be able to asses about $75 to $100 million to begin to do some real work to address the gully erosion problem”.
The commissioner added: “It is clearly beyond the capability of the state government to handle. I mentioned that the design have been done, we had a study done by Siraj Consultant and paid for by Setraco Nigeria ltd.
“The study showed that we need about 40 billion naira to deal with the gully erosion; but when we critically looked at the study report, a substantial part of the gully erosion was not taken care of. What they handled was the delisting and how to collect the water and then empty it here”.