In a bid to tackle the devastating effects of flood and erosion menace in the state, DELTA State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa in collaboration with the World Bank and Federal Government has initiated remediation projects in five communities in the state.
The Governor who launched the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) yesterday (07-09-17) in Asaba, said his administration would welcome all partnership that will proffer solution to erosion and environmental challenges.
NEWMAP which is an interventionist programme assisted by the World Bank in collaboration with the Delta State government under the auspices of the Federal Government is designed to check gully erosion and flood.
For NEWMAP) to work effectively and realize the objective of the initiative, the Governor was called upon to ensure that the State Management Unit of the project is given a free hand and devoid of undue interference.
Senior Environmental Specialist at the World Bank and NEWMAP Task Team Leader, Dr.Amos Abu, who represented the World bank Country Director, Mr. Rachid Benmessaoud at the NEWMAP launch in Asaba said such an assurance of free hand is important factor that will enable the World Bank assisted initiative in checking the problem of flooding and erosion in the state.
At the well attended event that held in the Unity Hall of Government House, Asaba Dr. Abu said for the avoidance of doubt that the World bank is just a collaborator with Delta State government in the project but that it is indeed the project of the state government.
He said the World Bank does not award contracts of the projects. He told Governor Okowa: “Your Excellency, This is your project. World Bank does not award contract.”
Stressing the institutional arrangement that states clearly the involvement levels of the various organs involved in the project actualization, Abu said the steering committees are to provide oversight functions as well as ensure that they are in sync with rules, while the day-to-day implementation of the project is in the hands of the Management Unit.
He called for transparency especially in the procurement processes of the projects, which he said is 80 per cent of the work of the implementation committee.
While commending the Governor for interfering in the work of NEWMAP, and cautioned that since he is not interfering, other powers that be should not interfere.
Dr. Abu said there should be minimum level of fiduciary involvement by the partnering state government, pointing out that the performance of states are not uniform, and that it depends on how proactive the state management Unit is.
He said from the visit embarked by NEWMAP, he said the situation at Owanta, Boji-Boji needs urgent intervention, pointing out however that this is without prejudice to the flooding situation at Jesse.
Abu said the entire scheme is meant for the benefit of the people who cannot really help themselves in solving the environmental challenges facing them. “That is why its handling and management calls for a great sense of responsibility in handling and tackling the problem,” he said.
He commended Governor Okowa’s administration for its commitment towards the development of Delta State, especially in tackling environmental challenges which was evident in the quick release of the counterpart funding of N530 million.
Speaking at the event, Governor Okowa observed that it is unfortunate that there are no fewer than 122 active erosion cum flood ravaged sites in Delta State.
According to him, “the World Bank has partnered with us in different areas and we are happy with the development as we are ready to partner with any organization or individual that is ready to assist our people, especially, those in erosion and flood prone areas, and in the area of our job creation efforts.”
“The World Bank has really impacted on our people and we will continue to come to the table with accountability,” he said, assuring, “for us in Delta State, we all should be involved in the monitoring of projects; if the contractor is doing well, praise him, but, if the project is not well executed, shout about it and it will be corrected.”
Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborovwori who commended Governor Okowa at the occasion said, “I must say that the launch of NEWMAP is very timely because the world is changing, we cannot run away from Climate Change, it has come to stay and we must rise up to the challenge.”
He appealed to Deltans to desist from building on natural waterways and stop blocking drainage system observing that the Ministry of Environment has done a lot to open all blocked drainages across the State.
HRM Obi Kikachukwu, the Obi of Ubulu Uno who spoke on behalf of the Chairman, Delta State Traditional Rulers Council, HRM Emmanuel Efeizomor II, Chairman of Association of Local Government Chairmen of Nigeria (ALGON), Delta State Chapter, Hon. Constantine Ikpokpo and others who spoke at the occasion commended Governor Okowa’s efforts in attracting projects that will impact positively on the lives of Deltans, assuring that they will play their parts to ensure the successful execution of the programmes.
Earlier in a welcome address, the Commissioner for Environment in the state and chairman, steering committee, NEWMAP, Delta State, Hon. John Nani said, “the intervention of NEWMAP in the state will ensure route and gully reclamation in communities such as Midoma, Boji Boji Owa, Ika North East Local Government Area; Obomkpa and Ukwu-Nzu in Aniocha North local government area; Ubulu Uku, Aniocha South local government area and Jesse, Ethiope West local government area, all in Delta State.