Akpabio said he would seek the intervention of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in addressing Nigeria’s ecological issues.
The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio has urged the Federal Government to use ecological funds to address life-threatening environmental problems.
Akpabio also called for tree-planting campaigns across the country, especially in areas worst hit by desert encroachment.
Akpabio gave the advice during a meeting between the Senate leadership and representatives of the Ecological Project Office, led by the Permanent Secretary, Mallam Shehu Ibrahim, who earlier informed the Senate leadership that the monthly N3bn budget for the agency is insufficient to handle the daily influx of demands.
The Permanent Secretary also informed that it presently has more than 5,000 requests for immediate attention from areas affected by natural disasters around the nation.
Responding to the agency’s concern, the Senate President remarked “The method of intervening and selection of projects must be such that they will put urgency outside the normal data they are working with.
“The Ecological Office should attend to the most urgent situations that are likely to affect the lives of the people before it goes to the ones that may not affect lives. Those that are life-threatening should be selected first.”
Akpabio however, promised that the Senate would carry out necessary legislative actions to assist the ecological office to perform well.
He also urged the agency to commence preparation for some natural calamities by launching an advocacy campaign to get Nigerians to plant one tree a year at the very least.
He said, “Every child should be encouraged to plant at least one tree in a year. In the areas that are worst hit by desert encroachment, people should be encouraged to plant one tree per month. Considering Nigeria’s population, doing that would help us to reclaim a lot of land to tackle the looming disaster.
“The same climate change had affected the Lake Chad basin which used to have 125 square kilometers of water about 10 years ago, is now less percent of its original size. The result of this is migration with the people hitherto, earning their living from Lake Chad now having to migrate towards the South.
“The lake had shrunk to a point where we are not sure whether we have up to 15 square kilometers of water and it is currently affecting about five countries.”
The Senate President further expressed concern over the challenging situation of insecurity in Nigeria, saying “Herdsmen who were used to taking their cattle to the Lake Chad basin for grazing and water now had to travel towards the South. In the course of that, they pass through farmlands and the farmers would resist the destruction of their crops. The development forced the herders to become armed in order to protect their cows from being attacked.
“So, your suggestion that you may require international support and sponsorship and maybe aid from international organisations resonates with my feelings and that is why very recently, I was elected into the executive committee of the inter-parliamentary union.
“I have found that within that organization itself, there are budget intervening countries through parliament in ecological matters and climate change is about 30 billion dollars. I will let them know that Nigeria is a place where they should intervene.”
He continued, “Whenever the Dam in Cameroon is opened, it happens on an annual basis, the amount of water that comes normally wipes out a lot of islands including most of the uplands in Bayelsa, and those houses will wash away.
“It goes all the way to Ondo down to Akwa Ibom, most of the villages do not exist during that period of the rainy season and when those dams are being on through renovation of yearly maintenance. Most people have to leave their villages for six months then, the other six months they look for a place to hide.
“In Bayelsa, you will be surprised that without war, we have internally displaced persons as a result of climate change. Whatever we can do we will do to assist you to do more,” Akpabio assured.