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*Samuel Bello, Abuja
The Ecological Fund Office (EFO) in the Presidency, on Thursday said that, at the moment, it has received no less than 1.1 trillion requests data specifically for soil erosion and flood control.
EFO Permanent Secretary, Dr. Habiba Lawal, disclosed this, in Abuja, during an interaction with journalists with a view to enriching and fine-tuning their strategies for achieving more holistic, effective, sustainable and community based ecological problem amelioration and intervention.
According to Lawal, “the greatest challenge we are facing is the dearth of funds. The country is faced with a lot of ecological issues with meager funds to tackle them. Regrettably, what we noticed is that while one is being solved, another one is being created.
She added that since 2015 till date, no funds have been set aside for anything other than the ecological intervention.
“If you read the news, all the stories going there is in 2009, 2010, 2013. In this administration, no approval has been granted out of the ecological fund to use the fund for non ecological issue.
She said all outstanding completed projects not yet commissioned would be in the coming weeks be commissioned and handed-over to the various benefiting communities.
“In another few weeks, EFO is going to present to FEC all the approvals and all projects we have done since inception of this regime. We also expect that the ministers who will commission and hand over those projects that have been concluded plus those that may be completed in the next 2 to 3 weeks will also be approved to that same day so we can plan this for the commissioning and handing over.
“Since the inception of this administration in May 2015, 88 projects were awarded, 45 have been completed and 43 are still on-going. About 90 per cent are on soil erosion because of the prevalence.
Lawal, while stressing on the judicious deployment of ecological funds by the federal government to problems across the country, urged states and local governments to apply their own shares, rather than rely on the federal government.
She emphasised that if the entire problem were left to the federal government alone, much less impact would ensure overall, because of the extent and severity of the ecological problems across the country.
Speaking on the public hearing held, on Wednesday, on the Bill to establish the ecological fund, “My take on the public hearing is that under the past regimes they feel that some of the ecological funds was not utilised for the ecological interventions. Some were utilised for other developmental projects of the country and they feel in order to ensure that ecological funds are restricted to ecological interventions, they sort to put a bill.
“We have 1.1 trillion request data specifically for soil erosion and flood control. That does not include drought, desertification and coastal zone management, nor does it include pollution control. But I can I tell you the largest chunk of our work is soil erosion and soil control. Of all the 88 projects that are ongoing, almost 90 per cent of them are soil erosion and flood control.
“That is not to say that we don’t have issues with flood control but because of the National Agency for Great Green Wall (NAGGW) and they are actually doing something similar to that, so we stopped. We are just seeking approval now which has been endorsed that we can also continue the work on desertification and drought,” she said.