The Senate Committee on Environment has bemoaned low budgetary allocation to the Federal Ministry of Environment and some of its agencies, calling for more financial support to assist them in the discharge of their responsibilities.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, stated this when she led members of her committee on a courtesy visit to Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, in Ibadan, as part of the committee’s oversight function to the state, on Tuesday.
Tinubu, who expressed particular concern about Forest Research Institute of Nigeria, FRIN, Ibadan, an agency under the ministry, which she said had done tremendous work in the area of afforestation as a remedy to natural challenges occasioned by loss of trees to industrialization.
According to her, “The budgetary allocation to the Federal Ministry of Environment is very low, while the research institutes under the ministry are also in dire need of funds in order for them to operate optimally. To mitigate the effects of climate change, the research institutes are important and have a lot to do, especially in the areas of flooding, desertification and even the gully erosion that is fast ravaging the South-East.
“They need proper funding to operate optimally for seedlings and other areas that are paramount in the research process. So, government has to look into that while Nigerians have to be shown the advantages of the work of the ministry. Recently, the weather has been very hot as a result of climate changes, but here in Nigeria, we are blessed with trees which can do so for us in the area of stopping erosion”.
She said that the ministry and its agencies were in the eyes of the world organizations like UNESCO and the United Nations and would serve the nation better, if properly funded.
Tinubu, while noting some of the challenges facing the environment, however said rather than being discouraged, efforts should be made to confront the challenges, adding “they (challenges) are many but are surmountable with proper funding and legislative monitoring”.
The Senator later presented the new Act that would enable smooth operations of the ministry and its agencies and help in combating the negative effects of climate change, to the governor.
In his response, the governor called for support for the ministry of environment at the federal and state levels, as well as their agencies to help them face the challenges of nature.
The governor said there were inter-related opportunities between the ministry of environment and the ministry of agriculture.
She added that they both had positive effects on humanity in terms of ameliorating the effects of climate change on the environment, financial empowerment to farmers and job opportunities for the young populace.
Ruing the negative effect of flooding on the lives of the people, Ajimobi noted that Ibadan metropolis had suffered a lot from natural disasters before the emergence of his administration due to low funding for the state ministry of environment and its agencies by successive administrations.
The governor said that the state had escaped the annual destructive impact of flooding since 2012 due to the proactive measures taken by his government to forestall flooding.
He commended the committee for legislating on the regulatory acts which, he said, would ensure that the ministry and its sister agencies operated without hindrance.
Ajimobi said, “The new Act enabling the ministry of environment and its agencies to operate with high impact on the society has come at a very good time when the whole world has been waiting for this kind of succour to mitigate effects of flooding, heat and desertification. It is imperative to give our support to the ministry of environment and its agencies because of their impact on our survival.
“The three tiers of government must make it paramount to fund these institutions for our own sake. Look at our situation in Ibadan we have been able to conquer flooding due to our concentration on funding and monitoring of projects on dredging, construction of bridges and regulations on indiscriminate dumping of refuse.
“This new Act or regulation book will go a long way to assist these agencies to make our environment and humanity to have sustainable peace. Environment to us is very key. It is everything. We lay a lot of emphasis on environment and we believe we have been vindicated for doing so as Oyo State, especially Ibadan is no more suffering from flood.”
APC Attacks Bayelsa State Government Over N80bn International Cargo Airport
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa said on Thursday that borrowing N80 billion to fund the International Cargo Airport by the State Government did not make economic sense.
In a statement by the Publicity Secretary of APC, Mr Doifie Buokoribo, the party criticised the project, saying, borrowing from the money market at the current interest rate was not sustainable but a ploy to siphon public funds.
It said the huge interests paid on the loan would stifle the state in the next eight years, adding that the project lacked vital intermodal network for easy accessibility.
APC alleged that the N80 billion project was executed at inflated costs, making it “clearly the most expensive airport project in Nigeria.”
According to the party, the project has taken a heavy toll on the welfare of civil servants and the infrastructural needs of the state.
Responding to the allegations, Bayelsa state Commissioner for Informaion, Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson, said the past administration in the state failed to give the people a desperately needed international airport between 2007 and 2011.
Iworiso-Markson said that the Gov. Timipriye Syla-led administration failed to attempt to build an airport in spite of the huge resources at the disposal of his administration.
According to him, the past administration used what should have been a laudable idea of an airport project to milk the state and siphoned billions of Naira into private pockets.
The commissioner challenged the APC to tell Bayelsa people and Nigerians what the former governor did with N300 billion agricultural loan the state took from the World Bank.
According to him, the past administration fritted away N3 billion Millennium Development Goal (MDG) funds made available to the state and foisted a bond obligation of N125 billion on the state.
Mimiko Withdraws From Presidential Race, Runs For Senate
Former Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State has withdrawn from the 2019 presidential election on the platform of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP). He will now seek to represent Ondo South in the senate.
This was confirmed by the National chairman of the party, Dan Nwanyanwu, at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday.
He said the party would approach the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw his name and file same for the Senate.
He cited the zoning of the president’s seat as the reason for Mimiko’s withdrawal.
In a move that appeared to have been well rehearsed, former Ondo State commissioner for works, Gboye Adegbenro, has dropped his senatorial ambition to allow Mimiko to replace him.
Adegbenro, who is the Ondo Central senatorial candidate of the ZLP, said in Akure on Thursday: “It became imperative that I bring to a close, my aspiration to represent Ondo Central Senatorial District at the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at this critical juncture.”
According to him, having consulted far and wide with his family, business associates, followers and constituents, he is bowing out before the full race commences in the interest of the party and state.
3 Soldiers Killed, Many Missing As Boko Haram Attacks Military Base
At least three soldiers were killed and several missing after a Boko Haram attack on a military base in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state, military and militia sources have said.
Boko Haram fighters believed to be from the IS-affiliated Islamic State West Africa Province late Wednesday attacked the base in the town of Kareto, 150 kilometres (about 90 miles) north of the state capital Maiduguri, AFP reports.
The militants temporarily dislodged troops from the base before being repelled with aerial support, the sources said.
“We lost three soldiers in the fight and several others are still missing,” a military officer in Maiduguri told AFP.
“The terrorists were smoked out of the base by a fighter jet which deployed to the scene,” said the officer who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the incident.
Troop reinforcements were sent to the base, the officer said. It was not clear if the jihadists took away weapons.
A civilian militia fighting Boko Haram in the area said troops withdrew to the town of Gubio, 60 km away, while Kareto residents fled across the border into Niger.
“The bodies of three soldiers were recovered after the attack,” said the militia who preferred not to be identified.
“More troops have arrived in Kareto but most residents have not returned,” he said.
It was the second attack on the military base in two years.
In April 2016, a Boko Haram raid left 24 soldiers wounded, according to military authorities.
Boko Haram jihadists late Wednesday also attacked Mammanti village, just outside Maiduguri, killing one person and burning the entire village before stealing hundreds of cattle, the local chief of the village and residents said.
“The insurgents came around 11:00 pm (2200 GMT) and opened indiscriminate fire,” Muhammad Mammanti, a resident, said.
“They killed one person and burnt the whole village and stole our cattle,” Mammanti said.
Earlier in the day a group of jihadists abducted seven women while working on a farm near the town of Bama, 70 km from Maiduguri, after killing their male escort, militia sources said.
Boko Haram has stepped up attacks on farmers and loggers in recent years, accusing them of passing information on the group to the military.
Despite the government’s insistence that the group is near defeat, Boko Haram has recently carried out major attacks on military and civilian targets, killing scores.
More than 27,000 people have died since the start of the insurgency in the remote northeast in 2009 and 1.8 million are still homeless.
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