By Joseph Nwoye
A bill seeking to tackle erosion across the country has scaled through the Second Reading in the Senate.
The bill which seeks to establish the Erosion Control and Prevention Commission, with a special focus on the South-East.
Sponsor of the bill, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP, Anambra South) in his lead debate on the bill, said the establishment of a Commission for the purpose of erosion control and prevention had become imperative in view of the catastrophic impact of erosion in several parts of the country.
“Almost every part of this country is characterized by one environmental problem or the other but, however, the menace of erosion is unarguably the severest in terms of devastation and destruction for instance the 2012 flooding in Ibadan Oyo State, the coastal erosion in Lagos, Bayelsa and Rivers States and almost all parts of Anambra State. It is also very important to note that gully erosion is almost taking over the entire landmass of the South East and South South.
“The problem of erosion is not catastrophic in the southern part of Nigeria, while desertification is in the North, but with the enactment of the Green Wall Act by the National Assembly, the issue of desertification was laid to rest,” a statement issued on Tuesday by the Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate, Ezrel Tabiowo, quoted Senator Ubah as saying.
The Young Progressive Party Senator lamented that erosion is responsible for the “widespread destruction of transportation and communication systems, degradation of arable land, contamination of water supply, isolation of settlements and migration of communities” in the east.
Ubah who argued that more than 3,500 gullies occurred in the south east states alone, noted that the “gullies are formed by surface runoff from localized rainfall event of high intensity in the fine-to coarse-grained sand and sandstones.”
On the contrary, Senator Ajayi Boroffice (APC, Ondo North), however, kicked against the establishment of a Commission for the purpose of controlling erosion in the eastern region.
Borrofice who is also the Deputy Senate Leader said an amendment to the Ecological Fund to accommodate the erosion problems in the South East would address all challenges faced by the region.
But not satisfied, the Senator representing Imo West, Rochas Okorocha (APC) threw his weight behind the bill.
He believes the commission when established would not only address the erosion challenges faced by the region, but also every other part of the country affected adversely by such environmental challenge.
But in his contribution, Senator Ibrahim Gobir (APC, Sokoto East), argued that “creating a Commission will be a burden on government”, particularly at a time that it is trying to cut down costs.
He, therefore, advocated for the adoption of preventive measures through the introduction of legislation by the National Assembly.
Ruling on the motion, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said, “the debate tended to sway whether we need a Commission or not, but the fact is we have to address the ecological challenges we have in the country.
“If we have gully erosion that is destroying the lands in various parts of the country, especially in the south east, then we must do something, whether it is a Commission or not. I believe that there are other ecological challenges in other parts of the country.
“Coastal erosion is also a strong challenge in the Nigerian coastal environment, just as desertification is a big problem in the northern part of the country.”