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Flooding: Experts blame Nigerians’ attitude, allege govt’s neglect of NiMet warning

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Flooding: Experts blame Nigerians’ attitude, allege govt’s neglect of NiMet warning

Some environmentalists have blamed the attitude of some Nigerians who block drains with waste and build on water channels, resulting in aggravation of flooding in communities, towns, and cities.

The experts in a survey conducted in the South-South region also blamed the situation on government’s poor waste management.

They alleged that the government neglected flood forecasts by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMeT) and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency.

The respondents further said that the absence of active town planning laws and poor implementation of existing ones were part of the causes of flooding.

According to them, some states have obsolete laws while others cannot implement them due to corruption.

The experts added that these lapses had caused serious devastation in the country as many lives and properties had been lost and many rendered homeless.

They, however, urged government to immediately institute preventive measures both at the state and federal levels to tackle the menace.

According to Mr. Princewill Ayim, Director General, Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, there was an early red alert from NiMeT that water would be discharged from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon on Sept. 13, 2022.

“Unfortunately, there were no proactive measures taken by the Federal and State Governments to prevent the water from causing havoc in Nigeria.

“The Lagdo Dam has contributed largely to the flooding being experienced in some states in the south,” he said.

An environmentalist in Calabar, Mr. Osita Obi, said that ensuring clean drainages at all times as well as effective waste control and management system would assist in abating flooding.

A town planner with the Cross River Town Planning Service, Mr. Anthony Okon, said that neglect of town planners in building projects contributed to the blockage of waterways and submerging of buildings during flooding.

Similarly, the Chairman, Nigeria Institute of Town Planners, Edo chapter, Inanigie Audu, observed that the flood ravaging the country was a product of uncoordinated and unregulated human activities over the years.

Audu noted that cities and towns had been left to grow in an unregulated manner and services of the town planners were not employed for proper development.

According to him, builders even go as far as sand-filling swampy areas and building on waterways.

‘’There are natural drainages created by nature such that when town planners are designing a building layout, they recognise these natural drain areas.

‘’And when rain falls, water naturally drains into them as provided by nature.

‘’We need state governments to domesticate the Urban and Regional Planning Decree of 1992 to empower and protect town planners to carry out their duties effectively,’’ he said.

He regretted that the neglect of meteorologists’ forecasts for hazardous weather and climate conditions by Nigerians and government had compounded the problem.

Audu said that the issue of climate change made it imperative for government to act otherwise.

An environmentalist in Auchi, Mr. Abass Ibrahim, urged the federal government to intensify efforts to reduce the impact of climate change in the country.

Ibrahim, a lecturer in the School of Environmental Studies, Auchi Polytechnic, said that the torrential rains being experienced at present impacted the soil capacity to absorb the high volume of water.

‘’This means that the flowing water will have to find a channel for itself. In situations where flood plains have been blocked by buildings, the implication is flooding,’’ he said.

The expert highlighted decaying drainage infrastructures, dumping of refuse in water channels and poor environmental governance as part of the causes of flooding.

Ibrahim, however, urged Nigerians living in flood-prone areas to adhere to NiMet’s weather predictions and take appropriate measures to prevent loss of lives and damage to property.

Meanwhile, churches, mosques, markets, schools, and houses in no fewer than 12 communities were submerged by flood recently in Etsako Central Local Government Area (LGA) of Edo.

The communities are Udaba-Ekphei, Anegbette, Ukpeko Orie, Ofukpo, Agbabu, Osomegbe, Udochi, Yelwa, Ake Island and Ifeku Islay.

Crops affected by the ravaging flood include rice, cassava, vegetables, potatoes and groundnut among others.

A victim from Udaba community, Mr. Isaac Omoaka, said that since he was born, he had never seen such devastation by flood, adding, ‘’this year’s flooding is 10 times that of 2012.

The traditional ruler of Anegbette, Chief Geffrey Ugbodada, said that the flood had inflicted untold hardship on his people, rendering them homeless and helpless.

‘’Our people are very hardworking farmers who do not depend on government or support from anyone to earn a living,’’ he said.

He, however, urged government and good-spirited Nigerians to donate relief materials to the victims of flood disasters in Nigeria.

Also in Delta, Chief Sylvanus Ejezie, Chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), urged the government to support the victims, especially farmers with food and other relief materials to enable them to recover from the disaster.

Ejezie lamented his loss of over 70 hectares of rice farm, home and rice mill, adding that Oko communities including Omelugboma were all submerged.

“I have lost everything; over 36 hectares of rice farm in Omelugboma here in Oko, and another 40 hectares at Ngegwu, Ajaji, Illah to flood.

“Also, the flood has taken my rice mill at Abraka in Asaba; there is nothing left for me.

‘’The situation is terrible and it will be difficult for me to start all over again without government support,’’ he lamented.

On his part, the Delta Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Godfrey Enita, decried the devastating effect of the flood, particularly on farmers and the nation’s economy.

“We visited some hectares of rice farms which have been taken over by flood. This is massive destruction running into millions of naira; these are all large-scale farms,” he lamented.

Enita said that field officers had been directed to open desks for enumeration of victims, and expressed hope that the government would assist to mitigate the impact.

The Delta Chairman, the Fishery Cooperative Federation of Nigeria, Chief Adim Nwokobia, lamented the challenges facing the nation’s economy including insecurity, high cost of farm inputs, rising inflation, and flood.

He urged government to address food insecurity by giving soft and interest-free loans, grants, as well as implements to real farmers to enhance food production.

Nwokobia said that no nation could survive on crude oil without food needed for development, and predicted scarcity of food and starvation if the flood remained unabated.

‘’As we speak, my fish farm at Camp 5, Anwai, near Asaba which is running into millions of naira has been submerged.

“So, having lost everything, even if the flood stops today, I will find it difficult to start my business again without the assistance of government.

“If nothing is done quickly to arrest the yearly flooding in the next three years, there will be no food to eat even if you have money to buy.

Similarly, a farmer and victim of the flood in Rivers, Mr. Sodin Akiagba, said that Engenni Community was one of the worse flood-hit areas in Ahoada-West Local Government Area.

Akiagba, the spokesman for the Engenni Ethnic Nationality Forum (EENF), said that the huge loss of farmlands posed great danger to food security in 2023.

Contributing, Prof. Wai Gosi of the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, accused the federal government of poor response to the NiMet’s flood predictions.

According to him, government has continued to neglect the construction of the Dansin Hausa Dam expected to accommodate water whenever there is an excess release from Cameroon’s Lagdo dam.

Gosi urged the federal government to as a matter of urgency commence construction of the dam to save the country from further flood disasters.

A waste management expert in Port Harcourt, Mr. Joseph Abu, said that apart from climate change, Nigeria had yet to implement environment-friendly policies aimed at flood prevention and control.

He noted that most populated cities in the country were faced with the challenge of managing non-biodegradable materials like plastic waste which also accumulated in drains, preventing free flow of water.

Abu said most residents were fond of dumping refuse in drains either due to inadequate dump sites across residential areas or habit, adding that this had contributed to perennial flooding over the years.

In the same vein, another environmentalist, Mr. Fegalo Nsuke, said that government had greater role to play than the citizens who were regulated by government’s standards.

‘’If government is failing to set and enforce standards, citizens will naturally flout rules.

“Sadly, the flood has created security issues and emergencies with children, girls, women and young people becoming vulnerable to abuse and crime,” he said.

Nsuke also criticised inadequate synergy between government and town planners, adding that town planners lacked legislative powers to oversee buildings and constructions.

Collaborating him, a town planner in Akwa Ibom, Akpabio Ufot-Akpabio, opined that adequate and holistic physical planning, management and development must be put in place to mitigate flooding in the country.

Ufot-Akpabio, a representative of Akwa Ibom in the Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria (TOPREC), told NAN that some states were still operating obsolete colonial town planning laws.

However, Dr. Sunday Ntoiden, Controller, Federal Ministry of Environment in Akwa Ibom, maintained that even when town planning was perfect, the attitudes of Nigerians must change to avoid the menace.

‘’You see people carrying bags of waste to dump inside drains. You see people build shops and block drains and water will not flow the way it should. So attitudinal change has to be addressed,’’ he said.

Ntoiden, however, urged the government to sensitise residents on the best practice of waste disposal, advising residents to inculcate the habit of desilting drainages, especially during rainy seasons to avoid flooding.

Similarly in Bayelsa, Prof. Dimie Miebi, of the Department of Geography and Environmental Management Sciences, Niger Delta University, Otuoke, said poor or non-existent drainage systems caused flooding in Nigeria

Miebi said Nigeria’s increasing urbanisation had contributed to the growing proportion of ground surface concrete, preventing percolation of water.

He said that the anthropogenic factors, including roadside dumping, dumping in canals, and dumping in drains worsened flooding problem in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, an economist in Yenagoa, Dr. Hebron Oweifa, has called for active implementation of planning laws, eradication of political interference, and checking of corruption to ensure effective town planning.

 

Economy

LASG Issues Travel Advisory Ahead Of Students Rave Event

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LASG Issues Travel Advisory Ahead Of Students Rave Event

… Says traffic will be restricted between Police Zonal Headquarters, Zone 2 and Onikan Roundabout from 7:00 am*** 

The Lagos State Government has advised Motorists to plan their movement around Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Old Onikan Stadium, Lagos Island ahead of the Students Rave 2023 event scheduled for Friday, 27th January 2023.

As a result of the above rally, the Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde disclosed that traffic will be restricted between Police Zonal Headquarters, Zone 2 and Onikan Roundabout from 7:00 am on the aforementioned day. He assured that Officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, (LASTMA) will be available to manage traffic flow.

Explaining the alternative routes, Oladeinde advises Motorists plying Island Club road by Police Headquarters Zone 2, Onikan to go through Ozumba Mbadiwe road inbound Falomo Bridge (Five Cowries Bridge) to link Alfred Rewane and Osborne road to complete their journeys.

In the same vein, Motorists from Bonny Camp according to the diversion plan can access CMS/Marina Bridge after Independence Bridge (Mekunwen Bridge) and loop it down towards Cathedral Church to connect Lagos Island proper through Odunlami Street for their desired destinations,

The Transport Commissioner also advises Motorists to utilize Force road beside Muson Centre to link J.K Randle Avenue (Race Course) or go through Onikan Roundabout to connect JK Randle Avenue/Water Board area to access CMS Bridge by the State House/Old NITEL Building.

He further explained that Water Board inbound Broad Street to Tinubu Square will be available to Motorists, adding that they can equally access Old Defense road/ Ganiyu Smith from Water Board to link Igbosere/Sandgrouse to Simpson Street and connect Third Mainland Bridge to continue their journeys to other parts of the State.

The Transport Commissioner reiterated that Security and Law Enforcement Agencies will be at all strategic junctions and intersections to ensure the safety and security of all road users and the free flow of traffic within the perimeter of the venue and alternative routes outside the venue.

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Aregbesola: Immigration Produced More than 1.7m Passports in 2022

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Aregbesola: Immigration Produced More than 1.7m Passports in 2022

…Agrees there are human-induced challenges***

Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, said in Abuja on Thursday that the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) produced more than 1.7 million passports in 2022.

Fielding questions at the 64th edition of the State House briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team, Aregbesola said the figure was a landmark achievement.

He rated the Ministry of Interior and its agencies as having scored above 80 percent in terms of performance.

“By Dec. 31, 2022, we produced more than 1.7 million passports.

“In the annals of Nigeria that has not happened before; as I am talking to you, we have more than 200,000 booklets in our store.

“We are not denying the fact that there are human-induced challenges if you look at the number of applications, vis-a-vis the number of passports produced.

“We are above 80 percent in performance; in any way, take it as given that we produced more than 1.7 passports in 2022,’’ Aregbesola said.

The minister said that a presidential directive had been issued with regard to the domestication of passport production.

He said the Ministry of Interior, in collaboration with the NIS, had impanelled a “project steering committee’ with a mandate to actualise the goal.

Aregbesola also said there was a major reformation and digitisation of passport issuance and administration as a temporary electronic passport had been introduced.

“We are digitising the process; my plan was to fully digitise the Ikoyi Registry in Lagos by Dec. 2022 but I could not fully achieve that.

“What does that mean? When this process is concluded, an applicant does not need to bring anything anymore; you complete your process online and by that time, you don’t need an agent.

“There can’t be racketeering. I am on it and I want to guarantee that we will do it before we leave.

“We have also concluded arrangements on the temporary passport issue; we have the passport, but we have some issues with our sister ministry – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are solving it,’’ he said.

According to the minister, the temporary passport will facilitate a return to Nigeria for Nigerians living abroad if they need to get back in emergencies and did not have current passports.

Such Nigerians would return home, carrying their expired passports also, the minister said.

“Much as that won’t be a problem for us to take at our reception desk, some airlines could be difficult.

“I can even tell you that we are discussing with South Africa now; South Africa does not allow the use of expired passports as a nation contrary to International Civil Aviation Orgnanisation (ICAO) regulation.

“ICAO says that every citizen of a nation dead or alive cannot be denied entry to his home; which is logical anyway.

“The last time I treated a file from South Africa through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they were insisting that if one’s passport is not current, one cannot be taken in or out of South Africa’s space.

“It is their policy; you cannot deny a nation its national policies and programmes.

“To avoid that, we introduced what is called temporary electronic passport; it is a one-way passport to return home,’’ Aregbesola explained.

He said that under the temporary passport regime, citizens who had the data pages of their expired passports could take them to Nigeria’s embassies to get the temporary electronic passport after paying the appropriate fees.

“The temporary electronic passports are almost exactly the same as their expired passports.

“It does not have more than one page to take you home; when you hold the electronic passport, you cannot go anywhere but home.

“We are still in negotiation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,’’ Aregbesola said.

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Court Again adjourns, for report of settlement in suit against Dana Air MD

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Court Again adjourns, for report of settlement in suit against Dana Air MD

…Ranesh still shuns Court*** 

 A Federal High Court, Abuja has fixed May 31 for report of settlement in a suit filed by the office of Attorney-General of Federation (AGF) against Managing Director (MD), Dana Air, Hathiramani Ranesh.

Justice Obiora Egwuatu fixed the date on Wednesday following an oral application for adjournment by counsel to the AGF, M. Okeya.

Though the prosecution counsel was in court when the matter was called, neither Mr Ranesh nor his lawyer was in court.

The suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/101/21 which was number 10 on the day’s cause list, was for the arraignment of Ranesh and two others.

Upon resuming the hearing in the case, Okeya told Justice Egwuatu that the parties in the suit were exploring settlement options.

The lawyer, who informed that a sister case was also before a Lagos court, said the matter would be coming up later in the year.

She, however, sought a longer date for a report on the outcome of settlement and the judge consequently adjourned the case until May 31 for a report.

Egwuatu had, on Oct. 13, 2022, adjourned the matter until Jan. 25 for arraignment of the defendants following the absence of Mr Ranesh and the prosecution lawyer in court.

However, Ranesh’s counsel, Ade Adedeji, SAN, was in court and he hinted that the prosecution and the defence were exploring reconciliation.

It is incisive that since the commencement of the matter, Dana Air MD had not been present in court.

On June 30, 2021, when the matter came up, while other defendants were in court, Ranesh was absent.

Adedeji had told the court that the absence of his client in court was to the knowledge of the prosecution.

When the matter was called, Adedeji, said he was in court to represent Ranesh after they were served with the notice of arraignment.

The lawyer had told the court that his client was not in the country.

“The charge before this honourable court is a serious matter.

“We came in from Lagos just to come and explain to your lordship the circumstances that informed our acceptance of service without knowing that the date is coming so soon.

“We didn’t know before we accepted it. We have an option not to accept this but as officers in the temple of justice, we felt we are under obligation to accept on his (Ranesh’s) behalf.

“But to the knowledge of counsel to the prosecution, the principal defendant is not in the country which was made known to the prosecution.

“It is on the basis of these circumstances that we shall be appealing to your lordship for an adjournment my lord to enable the defendant appear before this honourable court,” he had said.

Counsel to the AGF, Wilson Michelangelo, did not oppose the request for an adjournment, and the judge fixed Oct. 13, 2021, for arraignment of the suspects.

On Oct. 13, 2021, when the matter came up, Justice Egwuatu was said to be on an official engagement in Lagos State and the matter could not proceed.

Although the counsel who appeared for the AGF, Moshood A., and lawyer to the defendant, Adedeji, SAN, were in court, Mr Ranesh was not.

Consequently, the court then fixed Feb. 15, 2022, for the arraignment of Mr Ranesh and two other defendants in the matter and on the adjourned date, the case was also fixed for May 26, 2022, for arraignment.

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