INSTEAD of responding to the challenge of accounting for the ecological fund allocated to them, Akwa Ibom and Delta state governments, weekend, chided the Federal Government for blaming states over the flood ravaging most parts of the country, admonishing it not to play politics with the worsening disaster.
Last week, the Presidency challenged states to give an account of how they spent amounts in excess of N1 trillion, allocated to them from the Ecological Fund to tackle floods and other ecological problems.
Several states, including Benue and Kogi in the North-Central; Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta in the South-South, had cried out to the Federal Government for help as they battled to provide succour for victims of flood.
Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, in response to enquiries from Vanguard on the states, made reference to a comprehensive statement he issued on the subject in August, where said: “Each of the three tiers, the local government, the state government and the Federal Government has a sizeable budget at its disposal, allocated monthly precisely for dealing with these state-level natural emergencies, as well as federal agencies dedicated to doing the same.
“It is not clear why some of the state governments in question are not already drawing upon those funds to tackle the current emergency, and the general population is misguidedly calling on the Federal Government to intervene in all situations.
“If those sums of money are, for whatever reason, no longer available, the affected states and local councils must immediately contact the relevant authorities to explain what has happened to those funds.”
The Federal Government gave the impression that flooding in the country was not caused by the supposed opening of a dam in Cameroon as widely speculated, but by lack of preparation by the state governments and others.
Indeed, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, yesterday, urged President Buhari to investigate the spending of ecological funds by governments at all levels from the federal, state and local governments spanning 2001 till date and ensure that “perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement face prosecution, and any missing public funds fully recovered.”
FG should be ashamed—Ememobong
Faulting Presidency’s position, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Ini Ememobong, said the All Progressives Congress, APC-led Federal Government should be ashamed of its ‘poor capacity’ to manage the emergency.
“The current Federal Government should not politicise emergency management. It should be ashamed of its poor capacity to manage the emergency. Ask them the information management strategy put in place for this. Did this just happen? Was there no warning?
“They now blame the state governments. Pakistan is under water but the government is not trading blames. What management procedures did the Federal Government do in terms of communication?
“As we speak there is no federal policy on crisis management communication. In Akwa Ibom State, you could see the flood control projects that the governor did. It could be worse because there are both internal and external forces.
“Human beings do not control the volume of rain. In Akwa Ibom state, the governor has done extremely well in that regard. You know what happened on IBB Road. You know what happened in Oron and other places.
“And we are taking steps to ensure that every road constructed must have side drains and outfall drains. Therefore, it is irresponsible to trade blames and play politics with emergency management. Human lives are involved.
End blame game, ERA/FOEN, others tell FG, states
Meanwhile, the Environmental Rights Action, Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FOEN, and other civil society organizations, in the region, have asked both the Federal and state governments to stop trading blames and tackle the existential threat.
The Ijaw Professionals Association, IPA (Homeland Chapter, comprising Bayelsa Rivers and Delta), called on the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, to convene an emergency joint session of the National Assembly to consider special legislative measures, including quick passage of a budget to deal with the current flood.
NASS should hold a special flood session–IPA
IPA President, Mr Iniruo Wills said: “The failings of the Federal Government and the state governments caused the flood calamity. They have no right to trade blames and be insulting the suffering of millions of people
“They should immediately huddle together and institute a massive rehabilitation plan for all affected persons and communities, and promptly commission the best possible flood and erosion master plan with a statutorily dedicated multi-year funding plan.
“The Senate President should convene an emergency joint session of the National Assembly to consider special legislative measures too, including quick passage of a supplementary budget that the President should present specifically to address the disaster. These things are governance 101 and it is a wonder how Nigerian governments insist on repeatedly failing in it.”