By Emeka Ezeajugh
The Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) was born in 2010 following the request for assistance made by the then President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to World Bank.
NEWMAP is a World Bank-assisted project which was aimed at addressing severe mass wasting of soil cover that resulted in numerous gullies and land degradation in the southern and northern parts of Nigeria respectively. It is estimated that there are over 3000 gully erosion sites in the 10 most affected states in the southeast, south south and southwestern parts of Nigeria, but particularly in the southeast. The most affected areas in the southern part of Nigeria are Anambra, Imo, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi and the Cross River States.
In Anambra, it is a lesser task to count which communities are not affected by the erosion crisis, rather than the ones that have been impacted by the menace. Recently, the Anambra State Commissioner for Environment, Felix Odumegwu, an engineer, indicated that over 70% of the state’s landmass is under severe threat of gully erosion. Well, that is how catastrophic the problem is. It’s a disaster of humongous proportion by any standard of measurement.
With financial commitment in the order of US$900.0 million and a target closing date of June 2022, having commenced on the ground about 2012, the ten years are already up, and it is time to look back and evaluate the impact of the programme. It is understood that over 1,558.62 hectares of degraded land were reclaimed in the first seven years of the programme. Leveraging on the successes of the programme, additional states have been listed to partake in the programme.
It is also understood that Dr. Sanje Srivastava of the World Bank, having given a thumbs up for the NEWMAP has indicated that another programme with the pseudonym ACRESAL, which stands for Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscape may continue from where NEWMAP stopped.
This is a welcome development and the assistance from the World Bank under whatever pseudonym must be appreciated and should be complemented by the Federal and State governments.
Though the success of NEWMAP has been sung repeatedly, it is the responsibility of the programme coordinators to critically assess the outcomes and the way forward with the anticipated ACRESAL or other similar intervention schemes.
Whatever the gains of NEWMAP may have been, one would think that the greatest legacy the programme would leave behind is capacity building. That is the ability of home-grown engineers, surveyors, geologists, biogeography, and other allied disciplines that have participated in the programme to have acquired the requisite knowledge to tackle such challenges going forward. It is also the responsibility of the programme coordinators to monitor the long-term performance of the finished projects.
This will enable them to document what works and what does not, as such is a critical part of any project life cycle. Such learning helps in the design and delivery of future projects. Unfortunately, such learning or performance behaviour has never been reflected in the ad-hoc solutions implemented at the Nanka landslide. Peripheral drains that never worked have always come back as a primary remedial solution, hence the monumental loss of materials on the bare walls of the slide.
Based on a 2014 Google image, which shows the site with approximate dimensions of 600mm wide at the top and about 105m deep at one of the accessible x-sections and site observations, between Amako Nanka and Oko communities, it was estimated that up to 300,000m3 of materials may have been lost on the Oko face of the gorge after few cycles of the rainy season. At the time of the estimate, a failed peripheral drain was discharging runoff directly unto the bare batters of the near vertical faced gorge. The non-cohesive (friable) nature of the native soils and the high rainfall intensities in the area played into a cocktail of potent variables driving the active landslide status of the site.
Shown in the photo below is a half-symmetry view of the exposed near vertical soil columns on the Oko side of the gorge. Despite the disastrous consequences of the failed Ronasco drains built in the eighties, a contract worth over one billion nairas that was centred on the construction of a peripheral drain on the Nanka side was ongoing during my last visit to the site in 2012. Due to these significant failures, the Nanka landslide has been a subject of intense discussion and debate and has been a recurring decimal in the ‘to-do list of various government agencies dating back to the seventies.
With NEWMAP on its way out and ACRES a likely replacement intervention agency that may come on board, the Anambra State government should make this a priority site. This time around, NO PERIPHERAL drains as a focal point of remedial solutions should be embarked upon. It is obvious that the Nanka erosion is a classic case of government policy gone wrong coupled with the failure of engineering and science.
These answers were echoed during a stakeholder’s workshop in 2012 when the then minister asked me if the problem could be attributed to juju. The problem at the site has been largely misunderstood. There is no way the exposed vertical column of soil at the site, which flagrantly disobeys the laws of statics and limits equilibrium concepts could have been remediated using peripheral drains.
The failures at the site typify what is technically regarded as a progressive type of failure. No matter how strengthened peripheral drains may have been, it is only a matter of time before they are eaten up. Such drains should only be secondary or complementary, supporting a robust solution that is rooted in sound engineering.
Without a doubt, with good engineering that understands the concept of suction (negative stress), effective stress principles, pour water pressure and soil reinforcement, the mass wasting at Nanka could be turned around for the best. Among numerous opportunities, the space could be turned into parkland with or without restricted use. Restricted use as parkland, if the State could take advantage of the deep gorge which has truncated the water table for harvesting potable water.
A small weir or dam following the reinforcement of the sides of the gorge should be given a serious thought. What of a borehole field, as the groundwater table, is shallow as evidenced by the perennial base flow in the gorge? By and large, the site could be recovered and put to good use. It has been left for too long, thereby resulting in what has been hitherto referred to as the ‘mother’ of all erosions.
· Ezeajugh is a civil engineer and geologist with a PhD in Particulate (Soil) Mechanics. He is a chartered engineer of the Institution of Engineers, Australia, a member of COREN and a Geotechnical Engineering Consultant. He contributed this piece from his head office in Brisbane Australia (www.groundenviro.com.au)
Group Calls For Protection Of Journalists In Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi States
The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged for necessary measures to protect journalists and other media workers during this weekend’s off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States.
The group sent the request to the federal and state governments, as well as law enforcement and security agencies, stressing that the role of journalists in disseminating information about the electoral process is critical to ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections.
In a statement issued ahead of the elections in Lagos and signed by the Communications Officer, Media Rights Agenda, Idowu Adewale, MRA also urged journalists to be cautious and to use its existing hotline (08138755660) to report any threat or attack they may encounter during the process, as well as any obstacle.
Adewale said in the statement: “Given the pattern of heightened attacks on journalists and the media during previous elections, including the recent 2023 general elections, as well as the tense political climate in the three states in the lead-up to the elections, measures must be taken to ensure general security during the elections and provide adequate protection for journalists covering the elections.”
“Access to information allows citizens and other members of the public to have the information they need about political and electoral processes, facilitating effective public participation in elections,” he says.
“Journalists and the media play an important role in ensuring residents and other members of the public have access to information and may participate in the process.
“As part of efforts to preserve the integrity of the polls, it is also critical that the safety and well-being of these interlocutors be assured and safeguarded.”
Lamenting the increased number of attacks on journalists in the run-up to the off-cycle elections, as well as earlier this year in the run-up to the general elections, he emphasised that “a free and vibrant media is fundamental to a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to carry out their duties without fear, coercion, or violence.” During this vital phase, MRA stands ready to assist them and assure their safety.”
Police Nab Husband, As Mother Of ‘Mummy Be Calming Down’ Boy Takes Own Life
Men from the Edo State Police Command are said to have detained Mrs. Toluige Olokoobi’s husband after he allegedly murdered her.
Olokoobi was the mother of Oreofeoluwa Lawal-Babalola, the tiny boy whose video went viral in 2020 after he pleaded with his mother, “Mummy be calming down.”
Oreofeoluwa rose to prominence on social media after a video of him crying in an attempt to confidently appeal to his mother, who chastised him, went viral.
The film inspired Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who used it to deliver an Eid-el-Kabir appeal to Muslims and Lagos people in general to remain calm during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Following that, the youngster and his family met with the governor, who praised his bravery and poise.
While little has been heard about the family in three years, heartbreaking news broke on social media on Tuesday that the boy’s mother had committed suicide.
According to an X user, Olokoobi committed suicide in Benin, the capital of Edo State, for unknown reasons.
The X user, who stated that he was present at the site on Monday afternoon, went on to say that she had refused to disclose her difficulties with anyone before committing herself.
“The woman in the viral Mummy Calm Down video has just committed suicide here in Benin,” he stated in an email.
“She refused to discuss her problems with anyone.” She abandoned three children for her husband, including the well-known Mummy Calm Down boy.”
Meanwhile, confirming Olokoobi’s death in a chat with BBC Pidgin, the spokesperson of the Edo State police command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said her husband has been arrested and detained for questioning.
Nwabuzor said the husband reported the matter to the police.
The police spokesperson quoted the husband to have said that “he came home from the market when he saw his wife hanging with rope on her neck”.
Nwabuzor said she was rushed to the hospital and then to the mortuary after she was confirmed dead. (Adapted from a Vanguard report).
Anambra: CP Aderemi Adeoye Decorates Promoted Officers With New Ranks
The Anambra State Police Command Headquarters Conference Hall was a hive of activity Thursday as CP Aderemi Adeoye took turns decorating around 18 promoted officers of the command with their new titles.
The delight of some of the officers whose wives assisted the CP in decorating their husbands with their new ranks knew no bounds, as their husbands duly saluted their wives and the CP for their new positions and responsibilities.
Obi Innocent, one of the officers elevated to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), whose wife joined CP Aderemi Adeoye in adorning him with his new rank, said it was wonderful that the Inspector General of Police thought him worthy.
CSP Obi Innocent, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13, Police Zonal Headquarters Ukpo, stated that his new rank was a call to service and that he would do his best to uphold the charge given to them by CP Aderemi Adeoye to respect and protect the citizenry’s fundamental rights in the discharge of their new assignments.
Charity Akharame, who was honoured with the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and was the only female officer among the 18 promoted officers decorated with new ranks, said it was not an easy feat but she was grateful to be among those who were decorated with their new ranks.
DSP Charity Akharame, the officer in charge of stores in the Anambra State Police Command, recalled how she began as a Police Constable and worked her way up to her current position as Deputy Superintendent of Police.
She stated that as a very disciplined police officer, she would follow the Police Commissioner’s directions regarding respect for all and sundry in the fulfillment of her constitutional obligations.
Jane-Frances Obi, one of the spouses of the officers elevated to the level of CSP, stated that being the wife of a police officer was not an easy assignment. As a result, she recommended any lady who is married to a police officer to be patient and understanding because the job is quite demanding.
Jane-Frances Obi, whose husband is Innocent Obi, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13 Ukpo, believes the promotion is a reward for years of being patient, understanding, and standing in for them when they are not present.
Meanwhile, Emenike Chinenyenwa, who was decorated with the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and presented a vote of appreciation, expressed deep gratitude to the IGP and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission for considering them worthy of being adorned in their new ranks.
ACP Emenike, the officer in charge of Medicals, stated that the elevation comes with increased responsibility and that they will work harder in their new tasks.
CP Aderemi Adeoye praised the current promotion winners in his remarks, noting that two aspects make the police career very interesting and eventful. He stated that one is for promotion and the other is for positions.
CP Adeoye, on the other hand, urged the newly honored officers to develop more empathy, compassion, care, and dedication in the performance of their jobs.
The police chief insisted that newly promoted officers must first recognise that they share the same humanity as others, and as a result, they must treat all people with dignity and protect their fundamental human rights at all times.
CP Aderemi Adeoye stressed that without the enormous roles of spouses, they wouldn’t have been successful in their careers. He therefore congratulated all the promoted and prayed that God gives them good health to enjoy the new ranks and the energy to discharge the responsibilities of their new offices.
- Source: Independent