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PREAMBLE
Frankly writing, it is better late than never for our people to be saved. One humbly, pleads that someone tackles the problems of floods, soil and gully erosion and landslides in Igbo Land. It will be a historical success story if one can deal deathblows on these ecological disasters ravaging the different towns and communities in Igbo Land. The Igbo States of Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo that form the Southeast zone of Nigeria have been suffering from these horrendous ecological hazards that require most serious control programmes.

Unfortunately, not much has been done to tackle these mammoth problems. I have a nagging feeling that Nigeria and the world-at-large may not have known the extent of these ecological problems; hence, the need for writing this paper that has taken so much time and pains to do. As we write now, many people and communities are going through massive sufferings depicting what we have described below. We do fervently call on you, someone out there, to do something to stop the ecological nightmares and alleviate the travails of the people who have become so helpless before the scourge of floods, gullies and landslides. God will reward you well for your efforts.

One may decide to read some sections if not all at one time. The primary objective of the project is to provide enough information so that the ecological problems can be given the maximum exposure and understanding. Kindly read on and assist please.

1. INABILITY AND APPARENT FAILURES OF NDIGBO TO MAKE A GOOD CASE ON ECOLOGICAL DISASTERS/HAZARDS

It is estimated in this study that about N100.5 billion (one hundred and a half billion naira) would be required to tackle effectively the ecological problems of floods, soil and gully erosion and landslides in Igboland at first instance for a year. One is most amazed that despite all efforts made by Ndigbo on our ecological problems to the Federal Governments of Nigeria over the years, none of them has taken the ecological problems as a serious matter that requires major funding and actions. It is also most shocking that in this period of democracy when people ought to benefit from democratic dividends, Ndigbo seem to be told repeatedly to carry alone their burdens of environmental problems and debilitating annual ecological disasters. Worse still, the Federal officials tend to spend heavy amounts of funds tackling less threatening and less dangerous ecological problems in parts of the north and west while doing nothing in Igbo Land (the southeast) where damaging ecological problems abound! The entire scenario is tantamount to a serious denial of fundamental human rights of existence, good life, ownership to lands and property and safety of the people in the various communities. All concerned must do everything possible to avert the impending and ominous ecological Armageddon or geoanthropocide that now threatens the Igboland and beyond. According to credible reports, Anambra, Abia, Imo, Enugu and Ebonyi States have over 750, 650, 500, 400 and 250 major erosion sites respectively. This gully census is conservative and incomplete since smaller and young gullies were not enumerated. These younger gullies shall ultimately mature within next year and pose as serious a hazard as older ones. But they must be included in control programmes as recommended below.

Many political Representatives from Igboland at Federal, State and LGA levels have not presented to the Federal authorities, forcefully and successfully, the havoc, decay and destruction of their communities caused by floods, erosion, gullies, landslides, mass wasting and denudation. These political Representatives have not properly-presented our ecological disasters to the appropriate official quarters despite genuine efforts people have made to explain and persuade them to do in order to secure some funding and assistance from the Federal government. Today, our people are dying or losing lands and millions-of-naira-worth of property to erosion, gullies or landslides! One is encouraged to write this letter so that you can be used by God to put across, nationwide and worldwide for solution, the truth of the ecological disasters ravaging the entire environment of Igboland. At the rate and speed gully erosion is advancing and spreading all over the Igboland, one can predict with a high degree of certainty that many communities shall be no more in the next ten years when they would have been wiped out with their lands! I do believe that your understanding and assistance would make it possible for our Governments and the world to be more-informed of our present ecological malaise.

2. THE DISASTROUS PROBLEMS OF FLOODS, SOIL AND GULLY EROSION AND LANDSLIDES IN IGBOLAND.

Gully erosion and landslides are terminal and cancerous ecological diseases that destroy, within minutes and hours, lands formed with natural nutrients over hundreds, thousands or millions of years. Soil erosion steadily removes, after a few millimetres or centimetres of rainfall that must have occurred within some minutes, thin layers of rich soils and sediments that can hardly be replaced thousands of years later. It is more purposeful and desirable to stop erosion from occurring right at the onset than to check it or apply remedies after soil and gully erosion must have taken off and the damages must have been done. The problems that result from erosion and gullies are many and varied. They include human, material, political, psychological, sociological, economic and spiritual problems all rolled into one! Soil and gully erosion and landslides have become pandemic all over Igboland. Huge volumes of sedimentary materials, soils and blocks of lands are, continuously, moved by various rivers, annually, into the Atlantic Ocean. These rivers include Ebonyi, Imo, Uchu, Aghomili, Odo, Mamu, Anambra, Idemili, Niger, etc. One may realize that these sediments that were deposited over the years during Geologic times were formed, and are still forming, the Niger Delta where petroleum and natural gas are exploited. While these precious oil-forming sediments are being eroded upstream and deposited into lowlands, some communities are suffering inexorably and indescribably from gully erosion scourges in upland areas.

Almost every town in Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo and Abia States are being continuously devastated. Agulu, Nanka, Alor, Oraukwu, Oko, Igboukwu, Umunze, Achina, Umuchu, Onitsha, Nkpor, Obosi, etc. people and their lands are being destroyed on a daily basis. Human, animal and plant lives are lost. Lakes, springs, rivers, marshlands, water schemes, roads, bridges, NEPA and NITEL lines are destroyed. Most agricultural lands and wetlands are dead and useless as caused by erosion because of the volumes of sandy silt that have been deposited on top of the former rich soils. Sometimes, the sandy portions are heavily-leached by fast downward percolating groundwater and, thereby, rendering such soils infertile for farming. Such soils never accept any fertilizer since it is quickly leached out as soon as it is applied. The lakes, springs, rivers, reservoirs, etc. are being silted up with sediments and soils, and hence, lost. Such water bodies are gradually being filled up with transported materials, polluted, contaminated and destroyed. These waters that used to supply potable water for domestic uses are being killed by erosion. Pollution, contamination or eutrophication kills the fish, animal and plant-lives within these surface water bodies. Fish farmers along major rivers have lost their means of livelihood because of poor fish catches they now make. The major water schemes at the urban centres of Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi, Enugu, Owerri, Umuahia, Aba, etc. are being damaged annually, causing severe socioeconomic losses, pollution, contamination and disruption of water supplies. The resultant effect is the desperate attempts by the poor to buy or collect water of doubtful quality for consumption. This causes outbreaks of epidemics of water-borne diseases, illness and death.

Most road networks in Igboland, be they Federal, State or Local governments are destroyed every year particularly during the rains. They are washed away, cut in places, gullied, moved away into the bush by landslides, eroded or channelled into erosion spots, channels or port holes, etc. Some of these roads have become flood channels while the drainages, where they exist at all, have either been washed away or abandoned. Many of the road builders do not help matters anyway! Some design roads and carry out construction work without considering the implications and the consequent destructive effects of gully erosion on the long run. Sometimes, without blame, they construct these roads at the heart of the rainy season. As the roads are built along during the heavy rains, they are washed away or weakened by flood. The nation’s money goes down the drain! The constructed roads do not have adequate drainages to carry off the huge floods of rainwater. These drains may be too narrow to contain the volume of water and may not be deep and long enough to carry away floods to safe levels into lowlands, valleys or surface water bodies.

Also, the construction materials may be of poor quality and hence, poorly-resistant to erosion, corrasion and corrosion that do eventually result in engineering failures of roads. The supervision of road construction, sometimes by inexperienced officials or cheap non-professionals, may be lax, unprofessional and fraudulent. Some of these problems might have arisen because of possible poor financing, fraudulent bidding and award of road contracts. This manner of strange contract award seems to be peculiar to Igboland. NEPA and NITEL lines are annually dislocated or damaged every rainy season. Some bridges are moved away by landslides or undermined by gully erosion. Houses, churches, village shrines, schools, markets, play grounds, open spaces, blocks of ancient forests and trees, industrial centres, water supply mains and pipes, etc. in various towns and communities have been, damaged, uprooted, displaced or destroyed. Human lives have been regularly lost as can be catalogued from Agulu, Nanka, Alor, Oraukwu, Umuchu, Enugwu-Ukwu, Obosi and Umunze, etc. In Anambra State, people have relocated from their places of abode, sometimes, for up to three or four times in the last thirty-five years as they ran away from advancing gullies that carried away their homes.

Ndigbo, have such a fanatical attachment to land, and as a result, they find it very hard to abandon their homes to any authority including the advancing gullies. They are culturally attached to their lands and homes that were developed over the years; where they were born and brought up; and have been a home to the graves of their ancestors and life-savings. At such strange occurrences of gullying and landslides, graves have been dug up and desecrated by gullies while desperate efforts are made by the owners to save such situations at the risk of their lives. This is why fatalities are common in gully erosion-prone areas. Also, the Igbo ethnic group refuses to be refugees under whatever conditions. As a result, people struggle to hold on to their property despite the fact that they are seen perching at the edge of gullies. When they eventually driven out by gullies, they reluctantly buy land to relocate. Some even go back to the lowlands where the gullies have, temporarily, stabilized to rebuild their houses and live there no matter the severe odds, particularly in the area of communication when they find it most difficult to reach their relatives who live upland. This apparent absence of refugees or presence of large numbers of displaced persons makes it difficult to read the actual human damages caused by ecological disasters in Igboland.

The above mammoth environmental problems have precipitated massive socio-economic losses and woes to the people and governments. It has adversely-affected trade and commerce, industry and technological development. Most social and economic activities have been dislocated while infrastructures have been destroyed. It is so difficult to entrain sustainable development because whatever is built is gradually eroded or destroyed. Worst still, these ecological problems seem to have been ignored by Federal and State governments and political representatives. Something most positive and drastic must be done now and urgently too, to save our people and their lands from erosion, gullies and landslides.

3. REAL, OBSERVABLE AND SPECIFIC ECOLOGICALLY-CAUSED DISASTERS IN IGBOLAND

Terrible disasters have befallen many people in the erosion, gullying and landslide-prone areas. Many people have been forced to become very fetish and have resorted to idolatry while some others have turned to religious zealotry, all in attempt to stop the advancing gullies and landslides that destroy their communities. Many have lost faith in their governments and fellow man; they now resort to fervent prayers to save them from the annual ecological disasters! There is the case of young men who travelled from Agulu to Awgbu one morning for a traditional marriage ceremony. On their way to the ceremony, the road was safe. On their way back late in the evening, they never knew the former good road had been moved by a landslide that occurred in the afternoon into an adjoining gully. The party of over fifteen men and women did perish when their vehicle fell into the chasm, 90m below. The happy marriage had turned into a calamity!

Once an old woman without a child refused to move out from her compound that was threatened by a landslide at Nanka. All pleadings from her relations proved abortive. She could not abandon the place she had made her home with her late husband all her life as well as the grave of her loved one. She was there until one day when the landslide struck. She found herself at the bottom of the gully. Rescued she was, by some brave villagers but not until lives of two rescuers were lost as they were swallowed by moving sands while they were trying to pull her out! Sometime ago, almost half of Amako-Nanka village moved as a block through a landslide and crashed into a canyon gully, carrying lands, houses, farms, animals, springs, etc. along! That was sometime during the rainy season of 1988; there were hue and cry as well as pandemonium all over the place. Luckily, no life was lost but there were many who were badly injured and made homeless! The then Federal Government timidly-provided cheap relief materials as well as constructing few refuge houses that were rejected and abandoned.

During the rains last two years, a landslide at Ubahu-Nanka, carried hectares of lands away, wreaked great havoc and drove away many inhabitants. At Agulu at the same period, parts of Madonna Catholic Church lands and buildings were gullied away and lost. At Obosi, Alor, Oraukwu, Oko, Umunze, Agulu-Ezechukwu, Ekwulobia, Igboukwu, Achina, Umuchu, etc., similar destructive calamities were in vogue. Many families and communities have been sacked at Obosi, Agulu and Nanka over the last ten years! Graves and family or church graveyards have been excavated and destroyed. Recently during the last rains, part of the Ezekoro forest lands together with its spring water, concrete and steel tank reservoirs and the famous shrine at Achina town were pulled away by a major landslide that crashed into the valley below, causing massive destructions of property and farmlands. The people of Achina have now lost their source of water supply as well as their farms. The people of Umuchu town are now in a terrible dilemma. The Umuchu-Umunze major road has been cut into two. Dangerous gullies that now swallow people and vehicles have expanded. The Achina-Umuchu, Akokwa-Umuchu and Uga-Umuchu roads have been cut as well at several points. The great markets of Nkwor-Uchu, Oye-Achina, Oye-Uga and Nkwor-Umunze are now almost impossible for the people of Umuchu to go to since most of the roads are no more accessible! The Umuchu and Achina towns have been severed into pieces by many gullies; farmlands and spring water sources have been lost; the Nkwor market is now a caricature of its former self as it has gully holes and channels all over.

All the Federal, State, Local Governments and community roads are adversely-affected by ecological problems. The Enugu-Onitsha, Onitsha-Owerri, Enugu-PortHarcourt, Oba-Nnewi-Okigwe, Nnewi-Ekwulobia-Umunze-Ibinta-Okigwe, Awka-Ekwulobia-Orlu-Owerri, Oba-Nnewi-Ozubulu-Okija-Ihembosi, Umuahia-Ohafia, etc. roads are nothing to write home about as they are annually denuded by erosion. The sad aspect is while efforts are being made to reconstruct or rehabilitate some of these roads, many more are being destroyed every year. Some of the government officials, contractors and builders of these roads hardly take into consideration the effects of gully erosion in their project designs and constructions. As a result, what they build is destroyed within a few years or even before their very eyes! Our markets, industrial centres, mechanic villages, motor parks, schools, church grounds, other commercial concerns are hazarded by soil, channel and gully erosion and landslides every year. The havocs done to these places during the rainy season are better seen than described. Shops and houses are uprooted and thrown away. Drainage channels are dug up and destroyed. Roads are as deep as ever, having been converted into rough drainage channels by earlier rains and gullies. Sometimes, ravaging floods carry away and destroy the wares and commodities within the markets. These cause severe socio-economic losses to the business concerns and render developments unsustainable.

The World Bank-funded Greater Onitsha Water Scheme was destroyed last year. This caused painful financial losses to Anambra State Government that had to single handedly, struggle to restore normal water supply to the teeming population at the commercial centre. The giant Water Scheme was gullied and silted up with sands and sediments that totally-covered the pumping station and the machines to ceiling level. Complications ensued from series of micro-slides and macro-landslides, causing water-hunger and deprivations. Consequently, water-borne diseases threatened and besieged the populace resulting in morbidity and fatalities. Millions of naira is now being poured into the scheme in order to bring the water supply system back to use. Other World Bank, UNICEF, UNDP, UNIDO, FAO, UNICEF, NGOs, Federal/State/Local governments, international aid agencies, etc. funded-projects in water supplies, education, health, agriculture, hygiene and sanitation, public health, environmental protection and sustainability, etc. are threatened. Yet, not many people from the bedevilled Igboland seem to care about the destructions. One fears that many of our people seem to be jinxed!

There are many other psychologically-painful and destructive aspects of the ecological problems that lack geometrical measurements or quantitative analyses. Yet, these traumatic problems are there and continue to stare at the people every year. Such problems may be abstract, spiritual or social in nature. It is now very difficult for the young men and women from the gully erosion ravaged areas to get married. Their marriage encounters are like a cow passing through the eye of a needle! Immediately the man or woman has visited the potential in-laws for the first time, it is hardly ever possible for a second trip to be made because of the horrible experience during the first encounter. There is no accessible road, the houses may be at bottom of a steep valley or gully that is almost impossible to descend or ascend. There is no potable water nearby, houses may be perching at the edge of an advancing gully. Sometimes, there are no lands to build new homes, etc. The bride or groom is no more encouraged to invest further on the marriage-project as the hard components of real love for a future of permanence have been eaten up by erosion and gullies! Many old people refuse to evacuate from their homes or leave dangerous gully-threatened zones because those lands and homes have been where they lived the best of their lives for years. They prefer to die in their homes than leave despite appeals and persuasions. Many a time, they eventually lose their lands, houses and lives to advancing gullies. It is a nightmare for the people to find safe burial spots for their dead loved ones since exhumation of corpses by gullies and landslides is a common feature that is of annual occurrence.

4. GEOLOGIC AND GEOMORPHIC CAUSES OF EROSION, GULLIES AND LANDSLIDES IN IGBOLAND

Floods, soil and gully erosion and landslides have posed problems in the geographical area described as the Southeast (Igboland) even during Geologic times that spanned millions of years ago. As a result of tectonic activities such as minor and major earthquakes and tremors, land movements and slides, soil heaves, etc., lands were broken up into blocks that became dislocated. These massive blocks of lands moved away relative to one another to form cracks on the ground. Some of the blocks of the earth moved up or down or away from the other to form the cracks on the ground that Geologists call faults, joints, grabens, etc.

These are later, over a long period of Geologic time, covered up by deposits of clays, sands, soils, and debris etc. to provide a normal land surface. However, these geologic cracks of faults, joints, grabens, etc. form plains of weaknesses or pressure release spots along which future movements, slides, heaves or failures may occur whenever some energy event triggers off such action. Such events may be a new earthquake or tremor, heavy urbanization activities, mining or excavation, excessive dewatering or heavy withdrawal of groundwater in subsurface aquifers, excessive pumping out of petroleum and natural gas from subsurface reservoirs, poor road and drainage constructions, wrong channelization of surface waters, massive but heavy plants and machinery emplacement on lands and made complex by vehicular movements, artillery shelling and bombardment during wars or battles, etc.

The hanging hills, slopes, lowlands and valleys found all over the erosion prone-areas in Igboland are symptomatically-symbolic of these plains of weaknesses that can trigger off gullies and landslides anytime. You find these hills and valleys at Nsukka, Enugu, Awgu, Umuahia, Ohafia, Arochukwu, Okigwe, Orlu, Afikpo, Agulu, Nanka, Alor, Abiriba, Osina, Umuchu, Achina, Umunze, etc. These hills slope away gently along the deep area and steeply towards the scarp slopes. These topographic expressions enhance the active generation of runoff, floods, soil and gully erosion and landslides. It is quite dangerous and most uncaring to cut through or excavate those hills without proper planning of containing possible earth failures, movements or landslide! Road builders, rock excavators and sand miners must watch their acts whenever they hack away at unstable hills around!

Soil and gully erosion and landslides may be broadly-caused singly or in combination of two events that may occur through natural or anthropogenic (man-made) activities. Natural causes include those events that occur in nature that trigger off the ecological problems while anthropogenic ones are those anti-environmental acts that are perpetrated through man’s activities. In order for these events to occur, there are some basic and militating environmental conditions that are required. These conditions negatively abound all over the southeast, thereby, exacerbating the incidences of the widespread ecological problems that have become pandemic.

Rainfall is heavy and comes down during the rainy season as thunderous showers. Average annual rainfall of about 2000mm is harvested every year. These rains fall from April to September annually. The rains develop fast moving runoff and huge floods that cause havoc down the many steep and gentle slopes that are found all over the areas. The hilly slopes and plains are overlain by the underlying acidic sandy and lateritic soils of Eastern Nigeria while mud and clays are found in lowlands and valleys. The soils, sands, silts and clays are easily erodible and denuded. The breakdown of soils is facilitated by its acidic nature that makes faster the decay and removal of the cementing materials binding soils together such that they are easily washed away. These reddish, brownish and, sometimes, yellowish lateritic and silty/sandy soils are eroded and transported by running water through flood waters into streams, lakes and rivers that look blood red in colour. Beneath the weak lateritic and acidic soils are found the unstable and poorly-consolidated geologic rocks and materials that carry the lands, forests, rural and urban centres as well as their infrastructure, the valleys, wetlands or marshes, lakes, springs, streams, rivers, roads, bridges, etc. These rocks have faults, joints and grabens that weaken them further. The sandy members of these geologic units may contain huge groundwater reservoirs in aquifers with attendant pore water pressures that may be threatening whenever uncompromising loads are emplaced on overlying structures. The gully erosion-prone areas of Anambra State have huge groundwater reservoirs that are severely contributing to the ecological problems.

During the heavy rains of the rainy season, massive groundwater infiltration occurs into the subsurface geologic units in aquifers. This high infiltration raises the groundwater levels in aquifers resulting into high pore water pressures and groundwater discharges to the surface and at the sides of river or stream valleys. The groundwater level rises and pushes up pore water pressures beneath the ground surface resulting in slope stability problems or failures in form of landslides, soil heaves or earth movements. Dewatering measures where huge volumes of groundwater are continuously-pumped out to lower the water level may solve the flow problem. Ancient or recent landslides in such areas have resulted in the creation or destruction of existing surface water bodies. Springs, streams and swamps may be lost or formed; rivers may be blocked or dammed; lakes may be formed through damming of rivers or excavation or exposure of a groundwater reservoir; etc. These are believed to be how Agulu, Atama, Otiba, Uchu, etc. lakes were formed. These waters may equally be lost through sedimentation, siltation, drowning, eutrophication or excessive plant growth, etc. during erosion.

The former great and evergreen rainforest belt in Igboland has been deforested up to about 80%. Deforestation is now posing major ecological problems. Soils and laterites are recklessly opened up all over the areas, easily leached and washed away as the lands are left threadbare. Rainfall intensity is rightly direct on the naked lands and soils. Infiltration capacity of the soils is highly increased. Solar radiation and heat waves that impact directly on, and disaggregate, the soils are continuous. The areas are turning into unhealthy savanna grassland with very sparse vegetation.

The giant iroko and uku trees are gone as a result of massive and irresponsible lumbering. Remnants of the rainforest can be found along water-courses and lakes, around shrines and rural markets. The giant trees, luscious vegetation and bushes were removed through excessive farming, urban development, building of markets, industries, churches, schools, roads, NITEL and NEPA lines, etc. These unplanned socio-economic activities that have been heightened in recent times, expose the weak acidic and lateritic soils as well as the unstable geologic sediments to erosion, gullies and landslides.

5. ANTHROPOGENIC ACTIVITIES IN CAUSATION OF GULLY EROSION AND LANDSLIDES IN IGBOLAND

Present day anthropogenic activities all over Igboland have greatly exacerbated the soil and gully erosion incidences and landslides. Few living and easily observable examples that are presented below shall be most illustrative. After the Second World War that lasted from 1939 to 1945, many Ndigbo-British soldiers who were demobilized after the war, came back with a lot of money in their pockets. The lots of money from these soldiers raised the tempo of socio-economic activities that negatively impacted on the unstable environment of our lands. There were new industries, markets, roads, farms, etc that sprang up without proper planning for the protection and preservation of the fragile environment. Earlier during the War, vast areas were opened up for agriculture to produce more agricultural products and foods to support war efforts. The then colonialists saw all the havoc being wreaked on the then environment and did nothing while our people went ahead to destroy their lands and all the economic resources through reckless activities.

But the so-called British masters knew of future implications of the problems of soil erosion, gullies-devastation and landslides in the Agulu-Nanka areas of Anambra State and Okigwe area of Imo State. They tried to do something palliative. They probably had no Geologist then in the country, and hence in 1935, had to bring in a Geographer from East Africa to explain to them our then ecological problems. Later, they tried to do the following: evacuate the people of Agulu-Nanka areas as refugees to Anaje (or Sanje?) oil palm plantation in Western Cameroon, ban habitation and development in the threatened or affected areas and plant cashew trees as can be still found today at Agulu, Nanka, Oko, Okigwe, etc. The British showed some good faith and the will to tackle the ecological problems unlike our leaders of today who do not care!

The colonialists knew then that the present ecological hara-kiri would occur in parts of the Southeast (Igboland) and hence, their efforts to evacuate the inhabitants out of harm’s way; and the planting of cashew trees then. Of course, Ndigbo did resist some of these actions of the British and stoutly refused to be evacuated out of their abode to any other place. They would have lost their homes and lands; and later turned into wandering and hapless refugees in the Republic of Cameroon. They described the British attempt to eject them and transport them to another country as Nso-ala or Alu, and vehemently refused to leave! Although many of those people who refused to move as well as their descendants have lost their lands or have even died as predicted then by the British officials, there are no regrets for refusing to be evacuated. They, rather, relocated close to their former homes and are still within their cultural milieu.

For me, one may humbly aver that the actions taken by the colonialists are wrong, namely, they failed to know that the problem was not just surficial in nature where it can be easily be explained away as a soil or geographical issue only. The heart of the problem was more deep-seated and primarily of geologic nature as well as having elements of pedologic and geographic configurations. The British agents planted wrong type of trees such as cashew that cannot hold the soil together and has little or no binding properties. The leaves and foliage hardly decayed to provide humic matter to close up soil pores and bind soil grains together when they were shed on the ground. Above all, it is most incredible to force an Igbo man to become a refugee and even, be permanently-away from his native land. The British ought to have known that such an action was an impossible venture! These are the reasons why the control programmes of the colonialists failed woefully. One may also add that most of their colonial officials were not knowledgeable enough in environmental matters.

One may go further to say frankly that the present government officials in Nigeria, be they Federal, State or Local, are behaving even worse than our former British colonialists! The British really tried to understand and solve the ecological problems while our leaders are doing little or nothing. Imagine the gory situations where huge ecological funds are made available to the State governments and the monies stolen! These funds are misused and nothing is done about it. Instead, part of the funds fraudulently disappears into private accounts. Please, carry out a detailed investigation to find out what happened to all the ecological funds that were given to the States in the last four years. Much of the funds disappeared into the private pockets of corrupt officials!

The Nigeria-Biafra War wreaked a lot of ecological havoc on our lands. Many people ran back from the north and west of Nigeria as refugees. They cleared bushes and virgin forests to build and establish new homes; opened up lands to grow more food; built new roads, markets and small-scale industries; increased transportation activities such that many vehicles plied the roads; and brought to bear so many other socio-economic projects that were put in place. All these stressed the weak environment. Extensive movements of war machinery and military exercises-cum-adventures were ongoing all over the then Biafra (Igboland): bridges were pulled down; roads were dug up and destroyed with obstacles, bunkers, tunnels, etc. constructed across and within them; artillery shelling and mortar bombardments that pounded lands were in vogue; armoured vehicles of all descriptions were in use; air bombardments were not left out; and massive movements of people, refugees and troops of both Federal and Biafran Forces laid heavy siege of unimaginable stresses on lands. These contributed, and still do continue to do so, immensely in the present devastation of our total environment that include air, lands, waters, plants, animals, etc!

There are no working railway lines or stations in Igboland. There is no international airport in the Igboland that can serve for haulage of large commercial loads. What we have are small nondescript airports that have continued to be an embarrassment to any serious-minded Igbo man. The Enugu airport is as old and small as ever even though new international airports have been built in other parts of Nigeria since after its existence. Individuals have been trying to build an airport at Oba near Onitsha but are yet to succeed. Their efforts are instead, being continuously sabotaged. Individuals again succeeded in building the Imo airport at Owerri; but humble requests that were made several times by the various Imo State governments and her people for the takeover of the Owerri airport by the different Heads-of-State of Nigeria up to the present day, have been rebuffed to the chagrin of our people who built the airport from their sweat!

It is only in this part of Nigeria (Igboland) that there is no international airport for some reasons. There is no seaport in Igboland for haulage of heavy cargoes. An attempt to build an inland port at Onitsha has been sabotaged and continues to be a pipe dream. So in essence, there is no means of transporting large and bulky commercial cargoes to and from the Southeast except travelling through land routes that cause massive destruction of the weakly existing roads. One again, humbly realizes that the Southeast Zone (Igboland) is an economic power base of Nigeria! We have large commercial and industrial centres at Onitsha, Nnewi, Aba, PortHarcourt, etc. There are active ports at Calabar, such as the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) structure, and Port Harcourt. The oil, gas and fertilizer companies and their industries are at Port Harcourt. Goods and services from all these centres of commerce and industry are hauled to other parts of Nigeria mainly through the Igbo roads that are almost totally destroyed through gully erosion and landslides. Telephone systems in Igboland are hardly efficient. As a result one finds people and their vehicles always on the roads, the easy way of communicating. That is why many major roads in Igboland are always busy and congested. People have no other way to communicate except through these horribly-bad roads that become easily destroyed by gully erosion.

Oil and gas deposits abound in Anambra and Enugu States and may have hydraulic connectivities to those being exploited down gradient of the Niger Delta. We know that most of the sediments where the oil and gas were formed and are now found were trucked down by erosion and denudation through rivers from upland areas such as the Benue, Anambra, Idemili and Niger Rivers as one can see casually and naturally happening to this day. We do know that geographic-cum-geologic information clearly demonstrate that parts of Igboland (such as Enugu and Anambra States) constitute the head-area of the Niger Delta while parts of the Southsouth form the tail-end (e.g. Bayelsa and Rivers States). The oil prospecting and production activities; the consequent and extensive vehicular movements; the widespread atmospheric pollution and water contamination from acid rains; etc. equally endanger southeastern environments. They contribute to the total breakdown of infrastructures such as roads, water schemes, houses, monuments, etc. The Nigerian oil industry contributes directly or indirectly to the wanton damages wreaked on the environments of Southeast and Southsouth.

6. FLOOD DISASTERS AND SOIL/GULLY EROSION HAZARDS AND LANDSLIDES IN PARTS OF IGBOLAND

The rainy season starts sometime from the end of the month of March and ends in October while the dry season begins in late October and ends in March of the following year. The volume of annual rainfall is quite immense, averaging about 2000mm every year. The rainfall intensity is thunderous and tempestuous during most of the rainy periods. The huge volumes of surface runoff that eventually turn into great floods are tremendously-aggressive and indescribably-denuding. The thunderous rainfall come down in form of showers from the heavens at such a fast rate and volumes. One becomes most perplexed at such the speed at which massive floods are generated within very short period of rainfall and time!

Imagine a situation where within some few minutes of rainfall, major floods are instantly-generated. The floods begin to move with an indescribable speed, wreaking havoc, denudation and severe destruction along their wake. Flood genesis and movement in Igboland are facilitated and even exacerbated by environmental factors already stated above. The rains are heavy, intense and downpour-destructive. The geographic relief and topographic geometry provide steep slopes that encourage severe runoff and fast flood flow. The lands are open and are threadbare. There are hardly any major natural or effective man-made obstructions to stop the ravaging flood and deluge. The total environment of Southeastern Nigeria (Igboland) has been set up by the biological man for floods, soil and gully erosion as well as landslides to ravage and destroy.

Soil erosion involves the removal of the thin layers of soil or solum from one location, and later deposited at near or far distances, by agents of weathering, erosion and denudation that include gravity, water, wind, man, plants, animals, etc. The soil layers may range in thickness from a few millimetres for some soils to metres for some lateritic deposits. Soil erosion has sub-components that eventually add up in the ecological devastation processes. It comprises sheath, rill, channel and bank erosion types. Sheath erosion or outwash is generated by runoff that spread out over land as a blanket of water, moving down gradient in a direction. The sheath eventually breaks up into fingerlike rills as it picks up more energy down the slope. The rills coalesce into larger geometrical entities called channels that can be demarcated into small observable dimensions of length, width and depth. Also at stream, lake and river slopes, bank erosion is predominant, whereby, the sides and slopes of the riverbank may break away and are washed down by running water or floods.

Hence, within any catchments, subcatchments or watershed, sheath, rill, channel and bank erosion occur singly or in combination during the rains to denude the ecosystem and truck away loads of soils and sediments that are later, deposited elsewhere. In Igboland, flood disasters are common and endemic while the consequent soil erosion pose serious hazards that are always of damaging consequences.

Floods are commonplace all over Igboland during the rains. They carry away humans, plants, animals, property, farm crops and lands, etc. Floods have dislodged and destroyed infrastructures such as roads, bridges, water schemes, NEPA and NITEL lines, etc. Floods pollute and contaminate surface waters and destroy them by depositing sediments and soils into them, thereby, reducing their water levels and volumes through silting. Many urban and rural roads have been turned into flood channels. These roads had been severely eroded and gullied earlier. In addition, they were repeatedly graded every dry season to fill up or clear away potholes to make them motorable. As a result, many roads have been lowered, became very deep and higher than a man’s height. Often, the roads are lower than the drains that were supposed to carry floods away. Hence, floods ignore these drains where they exist; and make use of the roads as commonly observed every rainy season in urban centres. Case examples of these drainage failures abound in urban centres of Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi, Umunze, Obosi, Owerri, Aba, Umuahia, Enugu, Nsukka, Afikpo, Abakaliki, and etc. Soil erosion hazards and disasters are commonplace during the rainy season.

Most farmlands in Igboland are dead because the rich topsoils have been washed away by erosion. While the uplands have soil nutrients leached out or washed away, the clayey lowlands are also being destroyed by erosion. The sands and silts eroded from the highlands are deposited on these formerly-rich lowlands or marshlands. The rich top layers are covered with useless sands and silt, rendering them infertile. Most inhabitants of rural and suburban communities depend upon subsistence farming to live and survive. Today over 85% of our farmlands are dead to productive agriculture. Even desperate attempts to remedy the situation by applying fertilizers do not help as much of the applied ones are easily leached out or washed away.

There are hardly in existence any more, healthy or thriving marshlands or wetlands in Igboland today. Most of them are dead or dying as a result of the adverse effects of erosion despite their extreme importance in surface water hydrology and environmental ecology. These marshes serve as water filters that remove pollutants and contaminants and later digest them before the flood waters are discharged into streams, lakes and rivers. It is at these wetlands that some fishes and reptiles spawn their eggs, etc. The eggs mature and break. The young ones rise and develop at these marshes eventually. People are so ignorant of the importance of wetlands.

The wetlands are wantonly-abused and destroyed at will at Lagos, Kaduna, Onitsha, Aba, Port Harcourt, Yenogoa, Calabar, etc. They are cleared, bulldozed and refilled with laterites and sands for reclamation and occupation. Useless developments such as buildings, roads and other infrastructure are emplaced at will on these wetlands. People pretend not to know that they are actually destroying the natural environment while interfering with pre-existing natural flood cycles as well as impairing the habitat of already-designated plants and animals of various in nature. It is possible that one day in future, many of these structures that wrongly occupy wetlands may be washed away by a deluge of flood cycles that may naturally occur. It is well-known that in hydrogeologic history, such cycles of events were common. Today, these marshes are covered with useless silts and shifting sands through activities of erosion or by man-made structures that deface the natural environment of wetlands!

Many of the springs and streams that serve as water supply sources to the rural communities for domestic purposes and irrigation agriculture are gradually destroyed by floods and soil erosion. They are being filled up with silts and sands; are polluted and contaminated. There are many dead or dying lakes. Overgrowth of such lakes by aquatic vegetation due to eutrophication or excessive plant growth occurs. This is because of overload of soil nutrients transported into the lake from land. Poor fish catches is commonplace because of poor living conditions in the lake that has become anoxic and severely unhealthy for fish or any aquatic life. Weathered plants, grasses, trees and other vegetation that have turned brownish in colour. Actual dead plants or poorly-yielding raffia palms or palm trees are observed. Today, the expressways, Federal/State/Local government roads and those ones in the communities are, sometimes, covered with heaps of sands deposited across them by floods and erosion. These dangerous obstructions are hardly ever removed until they cause fatal accidents and loss of innocent lives.

7. SPECIFIC EXAMPLES OF FLOODS, SOIL/GULLY EROSION AND LANDSLIDES DISASTERS IN IGBOLAND

Soil erosion, through channel and bank erosion, grows and ends up as gullies that continue to expand, widen and deepen into greater but more devastating gullies until they eventually mature into senescence. At old age, a gully may live and die and is covered up and the land is naturally-reclaimed by vegetation or humans. In another situation after sometime, the gully may suddenly wake up and becomes rejuvenated! It continues to grow, spread and destroy. These gullies may appear singly or jointly and grow in groups or combination to form an anatomizing network of gullies with extensive gully fingers, body and soul as well as tentacles that are well-distributed in a complex manner far and wide within the ravaged environment. A basin, catchments or sub-basins may be affected, partially or entirely. Once the gullies are not quickly-arrested and controlled, but allowed to expand in this way, they run riot, assume mad dimensions and become most difficult and costly to control or contain. At this juncture, they may become complicated by the occurrence of landslides. Some earlier governments carried out on erosion control in a laissez-faire manner all over the place.

Gullies and landslides do work together most of the time. They are most rampant in Anambra, Enugu, Imo and Abia States in excessive degree. Floods are most destructive at Ebonyi State. Rills, channel/bank and gully erosion undermine the earth and the overlying structures, creating avenues for the takeoff of slides. Such threatened lands already have deeply-penetrating cracks or pressure release joints through which rainwater; runoff and floodwaters penetrate deeply into the ground. The overlying superstructures on lands are, gradually, weakened by increased pore water pressures caused by large ingress of water, thereby, making the entire lands and platform unstable. The earlier cracks on the ground must have taken some geometrical shapes and sizes such as squares, rectangles, and etc. around or along which failures in form of gullies and landslides may occur.

The total stress that carries the entire particular landmass and its overburden comprises the effective stress and pore water pressure. Effective stress is contributed by components of solid skeletal materials of rocks, sediments and soils; pore water pressure is caused by the presence of pore waters in pore spaces of soils and soil skeleton. After the rains, heavy groundwater infiltration and percolation occur into the subsurface through surface cracks and the porous layers of the soil, thereby, filling the pore spaces with water and raising water levels in the soil zones and groundwater. The attendant rises in water levels result in increases in pore water pressure that does overshoot the effective stress. The pore water pressure has taken the upper hand over the effective stress. This results in the total stress being incapable of continuing to carry the earth structure. This brings about structural failures in form of landslides and devastating gullies. Landslides and gullies have carried away homes, houses, factories, lands, farms, roads, bridges, etc. in various parts of Igboland. At many urban and rural communities such as Okwudor, Okigwe, Orlu, Mbaise, Osina, etc. in Imo State; Bende, Nguzu, Ekoli, Ohafia, Uzuakoli, Abiriba, Uturu, etc. in Abia State; Agulu, Nanka, Oko, Umunze, Achina, Umuchu, Nnewi, Alor, Oraukwu, Ogidi, Ekwulobia, Nnobi, Uke, Ideani, Ojoto, Obosi, Awka, Abagana, Enugwu-Ukwu, etc. in Anambra State; Udi, Ngwo, Umumba-Ndiuno, Oji River, Achi, Ugwuoba and Nsukka in Enugu State; and Uturu and Afikpo in Ebonyi State, these two ecological monsters of gullies and landslides are wreaking great havoc to the environment. People have been killed every year by these erosion evils. These twin monsters cause the greatest damages to the socio-economic environment of Southeastern areas.

The magnitude and dimension at which gullies originate and expand in parts of Igboland and the regularity of occurrence of have become most calamitous and indescribably painful. Once gullies are allowed to start, develop, grow, mature, produce younger ones in form of gully fingers, body and soul, they run riot. Their expansion and spread become uncontrollable. This is the stage of multiple and complex gully erosion disasters that we have now almost reached in many communities. It is now obvious and fearful that larger, wider and deeper gullies-development and emergence of more destructive landslides are imminent in the near future at many communities. Recent studies and findings by a team of scientists and engineers of National Environmental Watch and Service (NEWS) and the Department of Geological Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, have established site-locations in towns where potential landslides are now lying in wait to strike! Large hectares or blocks of lands can suddenly break away and slide down the slope with attendant disastrous consequences. The team of experts has also mapped some of the gullies and identified the potential landslide areas. Reports that embody explanations and costings for control programmes are available. We are also ready to work accordingly for any individual, groups, communities, governments, etc. in assisting to tackle the ecological problems.

Gullies that would carry away blocks of lands, houses, property and people into existing gullies, valleys, lakes or rivers at Agulu, Nanka, Alor, Oraukwu, Obosi, Umuchu, Umunze, Okwudor, Uturu, Ohafia, Abiriba, Umuahia, etc. are advancing to. many communities in gully erosion-prone areas. They will be dissected into pieces of useless badland as the gullies grow and mature. Many people will lose their senses and become demented or psychological wrecks later, collapse and die because of pernicious hopelessness. The loss of any ancestral lands of domicile to an Igbo man, can be translated into his eventual abject poverty and deprivation. That event may lead to his consequent loss of mind, consciousness and death. All these are now happening at some towns in gully erosion-prone areas of the Southeast. They are becoming widespread yearly.

8. LACK OF SINCERITY OF PURPOSE, PSYCHOLOGIAL AND POLITICAL WILL TO TACKLE ECOLOGICAL PROBLEMS

There is lack of sincerity of purpose and political will to tackle the ecological problems in Igboland by almost everybody who should be concerned. Lack of political will and concern for the people result in abject neglect, political gerrymandering, fraudulent activities. These are some of the bitingly-painful handicaps that bedevil and prevent us from effectively-dealing with the ecological problems and hazards. It is a clear case of obvious denial of fundamental human rights to existence, safe and good life, secured ownership of lands and property, protected and preserved environment. The people are annually oppressed by multitudinous ecological disasters while the Federal government of Nigeria and her agents hardly bathe an eyelid.

Our erosion problems have become so bad that international organizations ought, now, to see or be made to know about the demented nature of sufferings Ndigbo every year. Time is, now, ripe for our people to storm out of this country to tell the world about our frustrations and desperation as a result of our abandonment to erosion and tantamount-neglect. The Federal authorities are now at liberty to forestall such an impending embarrassment if they can react positively.

The Federal government officials and the Honourable members of the National Assembly know too well that gully erosion and landslides are most destructive in Igboland. They also know that desertification problems bedevil the upper northern areas while floods batter Lagos and Ogumpa areas. But when actions are to be carried out in combating these ecological problems and funds for the control projects are to be provided, decisions become grossly-biased and negatively-skewed against the ecological malaise of the Igbo people of Southeast Nigeria . Huge funds are usually and regularly made available to combat desertification in the north and floods in Lagos and Ogumpa areas of the west. In the case of gully erosion, people would use the Federal character policy in providing funds, pretending to say that gully erosion problems occur at the same magnitude all over the country; and yet, every honest person knows this to be a lie!

Anyone who has travelled across Igboland knows the problems posed by gullies have no match elsewhere in Nigeria. And even where funds are provided for erosion control in any community in Igboland, the money is a pittance that hardly scratches the erosion problems. Except for the actions of the Shagari government at Agulu-Nanka and Alor-Oraukwu areas in Anambra State and Okwudor in Imo State, one is yet to see any meaningful gully erosion control projects worth the trouble in Igboland. The truth must be told to shame the Devil! Gullies do exist in other parts of the country, but they are smaller than what obtains in Igboland. The proper political and moral decision that should be taken is to consider the ecological problems of Ndigbo on their own merit or demerit and not to continue to latch them unto others as presently done. Huge international funds are invested in battling desert encroachment in the northern areas while such funds hardly ever reach Igboland to combat ecological hazards.

In a democratic setting, nationalism and self-respect do not allow nations to disgrace themselves before the comity of nations, Where their people have cases or problems such as the present ecological malaise, they are given adequate attention and the problems-solved. They are not neglected, ignored or regarded as toothless bulldogs. They are not purposely-neglected and made helpless and forced into taking desperate measures. They are not marginalized to such an extent that they are forced to go outside their own country to seek for help to protect their fundamental human rights and environment. They are given a fair hearing to present their problems after which cases are reasonably-considered without bias or undue political influence and the problems solved. Ndigbo are now ready to put their ecological problems out!

It has been found that many people and communities in Igboland are fed up with their governments over their laissez-faire attitude to ecological problems, The people are, now, prepared to look outside this country for those who can solve their ecological problems. They do not care anymore if such actions might embarrass anyone or any government. They will ensure that ecological matters shall become election issues in the coming years. All those concerned are better advised now to make hay while the sun shines. The present dog-in-the-manger-attitude by government officials is shameful. Many of the communities that are grossly-affected by erosion and gully problems are, now, politically-aware of their environmental rights and privileges. They are prepared to pursue these fundamental rights to life and existence with available means that include going to courts of competent jurisdiction to seek for redress and secure adequate remedies vis-à-vis the severe ecological problems that stare us in the face!

9. CONTROL MEASURES AND RECOMMENDED SOLUTIONS TO SOIL AND GULLY EROSION/LANDSLIDES

In the biblical Genesis of the Holy Book, man has been directed to conquer and takeover the earth with all its bounteous resources. The earth is not meant to overcome man vis-à-vis the ecological disasters as presently obtaining in Igboland. Modern science and technology ensure that no problems, particularly man-made ones, are unsolvable. All that are required are the will, intelligence and financial muscle to tackle such problems. The problems of erosion, gullies and landslides in the Southeast are no exception. They can be successfully tackled and solved by Nigerians if they sincerely decide to do so. Man-made problems can equally be successfully-dealt with by the perpetrator, man. The following suggestions and recommendations that can be handled singly or in groups, depending on availability of funds and materials, are humbly presented for your consideration and actions. They can be taken one or two or more at a time as one so desires. We now do suggest and recommend as follows:

(a) Most soil and gully erosion communities in Anambra, Imo and Abia States should be declared as Disaster areas and emergency remedial actions must be taken by the Federal Government and the State immediately;

(b) A Soil and Gully Erosion Commission (SOGEC) that shall take care of erosion matters in Nigeria should be established by a Bill of the National Assembly, later assented to by the President;

(c) A special annual allocation or subvention of consolidated funds should be made and, possibly, budgeted for, for the next five years for SOGEC to handle erosion and flood problems; the first assignment of SOGEC shall be to put aside one day every year that shall be declared an EROSION DAY for an annual appraisal of issues and problems of erosion nationwide;

(d) Erosion control programmes should involve a subcatchment management strategy where gullies are controlled as group-units instead of the present ad hoc/wrong way of tackling individual gullies and their problems in a piecemeal manner;

(e) All Federal/State/LGAs/groups/individuals should be held responsible to enacted laws that shall have inbuilt soil and gully erosion control mechanisms and management in civil constructions such as roads and estates, civil works, agricultural activities, etc.;

(f) The Federal Ministry of Works and Housing must be made to change their planning, design and construction methods and techniques in gully erosion prone areas since their present methods are erosion-causative and highly destructive;

(g) The Federal Ministry of Environment should urgently come out with a working document that shall culminate in the establishment of SOGEC that shall spell out policies on combating ecological problems of floods, soil and gully erosion;

(h) More detailed studies and investigations should be carried out to produce maps, designs, costings and reports on gully erosion sites for remedial work and control; Officials of the Presidency and members of the National Assembly should urgently carry out guided tours to the gully erosion affected areas in Igboland so that they can see and appreciate the enormity of the ecological problems and become properly-guided in taking decisions on possible funding and assistance;

(j) An international four-days Workshop on Soil and Gully Erosion and Landslides in Igboland should be organized and solutions to gully problems proffered from the Workshop;

(k) The Federal government should invite and encourage international organizations, aid agencies and NGOs to support or provide funds for tackling ecological problems of Ndigbo;

(l) The groundwater resources in the gully erosion areas of Agulu-Nanka in huge water-bearing aquifers can be dewatered with huge pumps sited at strategic places, and the pumped out water distributed through a reticulation system to communities for domestic and industrial uses;

m) Federal/State/LGA governments should direct that some erosion-prone or devastated lands be declared disaster areas, should be vacated and left as no man’s lands and enforce laws on people to stop further developments and farming in such areas, and the owners of such lands compensated and relocated elsewhere;

(n) There is great need for agroforestry and green belt development in erosion prone areas; Reforestation programmes should be embarked upon to reclaim the lands after mechanical/civil works must have been carried out earlier to check the gullies;

(o) Marsh lands, springs, streams, rivers and lakes that have been destroyed should be reclaimed through desilting and revegetation;

(p) Some people have lost lands and homes while others may lose more in future; they should be relocated elsewhere by the Federal government to safe areas and be provided with funds to enable them buy new lands and build their new homes;

(q) The planned dredging of the River Niger after the necessary EIA should be properly-carried out; the dredge spoils/materials from the River Niger may be used to fill up and reclaim deep gullies;

(r) The uncontrolled felling of trees and clearing of bushes and forests, excessive bush burning, uncontrolled grazing of lands by cows and goats, etc. should be stopped;

(s) International airports should be established at Owerri and Enugu. The Oba airport should be completed. The River Niger port at Onitsha should be completed and put into use;

(t) An Environmental Management Institute and Erosion Research (EMIER) should be established at Agulu-Nanka area of Anambra State to work out lasting solutions and strategies to combat the ecological problems on a continuous basis;

(u) There is a great need to change the farming methods in the erosion-prone areas; The Ministry of Agriculture (Federal/State/LGA) should provide the necessary directives to the communities concerned;

(v) Massive publicity (Press, radio, TV, etc.) should be embarked upon within and outside Nigeria in order to show the world-at-large the erosion problems in order to attract financial assistance;

(w) Erosion and flood control programmes and assignments must be worked out through involvement of people, individuals, communities and LGAs of the affected areas through people-participation-in-projects-philosophy such that people can take active part in gully erosion control projects;

(x) Control of soil and gully erosion and landslides in Igboland should be made an election issue for the future political office seekers and contestants; people should vote for those who can do something in combating ecological problems;

(y) The World bank, IMF, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, FAO, UNICEF, WMO, Swedish/Danish/Norwegian/Japanese aid officials and agencies should be invited to assist in
funding of projects on erosion control problems either in cash or through provision of engineering or agricultural materials;

(z) There should be massive constructions of catchment basins or Okwa lakes, sedimentation basins, catchment pits, drainage channels, etc. at several locations in flood and erosion areas; and

(aa) A Panel of Inquiry should be carried out to establish how ecological funds for the Southeastern States (Igboland) were used.

10. PRELIMINARY COSTINGS FOR CONTROL OF SOIL AND GULLY EROSION AND LANDSLIDES IN IGBOLAND

It has been the most painstaking affair to attempt to put some costs for confronting the ecological disasters that have ravaged parts of the Southeast. Sincere efforts on our part and wide scale consultations culminated in the present estimates of total costing as presented below. The amount of money stated for each item is realistic enough to handle such a problem. A possibly-more detailed investigation of each item to prepare the working drawings and the BOQ would obviously fine-tune the estimates to make them more realistic. Where the Federal and State governments feel that the cost may overburden them, they should involve international aid agencies, donor organizations and the World Bank for assistance. One may also recommend that any funding should be directly executed and supervised by the donor and the people of the area.

You may, please now, consider the following as a guide: An estimate of the total initial funds that can be made available by the Federal government to Igbo States to combat the ecological problems to make the desired impact is conservatively put at about N100.5 billion (one hundred and point five billion naira only) at the first instance. The different aspects of what should be done with the funds have been broken down and stated below. The problems and control projects can be handled singly or jointly depending on the amount of money the Federal government can provide as well as additional assistance from other sources as earlier recommended.

The above total sum of money of N100.5 billion is now broken down into sub-heads of control projects with the estimates as shown below:

The control of different numbers of gullies in Anambra (10), Imo (6), Abia (8), Enugu (6) and Ebonyi (5) States, totalling 35 major gullies of different sizes at a cost of N13.0 billion per year;

Dewatering of groundwater in aquifers-schemes through five giant boreholes to be sunk in parts of Agulu, Nanka, Adazi, Igbo-Ukwu and Oko areas to lower the subsurface water levels; and the pumped-out water supplied to the various communities for domestic and industrial uses is costed at N6.5 billion;

Massive reforestation and green belt development at various locations in Igboland is to cost N6.0 billion;

Construction of Okwa lakes, sedimentation basins, catchments pits and drainage channels at the cost of N2.0 billion per State shall be N10.0 billion for the five States;

The relocation of displaced persons, purchase of lands, and construction of houses for them, namely, Anambra (8), Imo (5), Abia (5), Enugu (3) and Ebonyi (2) States in terms of the number of localities will cost N28 billion;

The establishment of the Environmental Management Institute and Erosion Research (EMIER) at Agulu-Nanka area, and putting the educational complex into use will cost N10.0 billion; the Institute can be affiliated to Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka;

More detailed investigations of more gully sites and preparation of maps, designs and reports at about half a billion naira per State totals N7.5 billion;

Extensive publicity in press, TV and radio at local, national and international levels to provide information and create awareness and remedies to floods, soil and gully erosion and landslide problems will cost N1.5 billion;

An international four-days Workshop and the consequent production of a Book on Ecological Problems of Ndigbo and Solutions as well as Guidelines on Flood and Gully Erosion Control will cost N500 million;

Construction, reconstruction, deepening/extending of new or existing drainages along the major roads and highways and filling up existing gullies or potholes within the rural and urban areas of the States at N1.5 billion per State will cost N7.5 billion;

Reclamation of damaged or destroyed marshlands, springs, streams, lakes and some rivers through desilting and revegetation in the five States will cost N8.0 billion; and

The Ministry of Environment should budget annually funds for reminiscences on the EROSION DAY and consequent activities that shall be carried out; all the people of Nigeria and their international friends, aid agencies, NGOs, etc. would be invited to participate in the national programme at N2.0 billion.

11. SELF-HELP CONTROL MEASURES AGAINST FLOODS, SOIL/GULLY EROSION AND LANDSLIDES IN IGBOLAND

It has now become very clear that government officials at Local, State or Federal levels have woefully-failed to understand or appreciate the severe ecological problems facing the people. The Federal authorities do not care while fellow Nigerians go on suffering, losing their lives and property. When allocating ecological funds by the Federal authorities, it is based on equality of States despite the fact that our ecological problems are highly-out of proportions when compared to other States. Yet, when it comes to the problems of Lagos Bar Beach, the Ogumpa floods or desertification, special meanings are attached and read into them to make a case for special privileges.

The Federal government, then, provides disproportionately-more funds to the relevant western and northern States that are involved. Some of these ecological problems have attracted international funding and support while no attention is paid to gully erosion in Igboland and beyond. Even the pittance from the ecological funds provided to the State is not supervised for what use they are made of. Much of these funds are misappropriated while the Federal officials hardly-bat an eyelid. Federal roads and infrastructure are built without consideration of their environmental implications with respect to gully genesis and landslides. Most Federal roads are gully-erosion-causative and hardly-survive erosional attacks. These roads are most poorly-constructed and hardly-survive the attacks of three rainy and dry seasons as they develop huge potholes and craters that destroy them. Some of their narrow and short drains end up opening up new gullies and erosion sites at their distal ends. The various communities and individuals have cried to the Federal government to declare parts of the States as disaster areas and provide some relief or assistance but no one hearkens to these distress calls. In many towns and villages, people have been driven out of their homes and away from their lands to become refugees but the Federal officials and human right groups hardly-ever-notice. Many international organizations, agencies and NGOs come to this country to tackle ecological problems as encouraged by the Federal governments but you can never see any of these foreigners on our soils.

The National Assembly members should place our ecological problems on the front burner of the Nigerian national discourse. These our Representatives (Senate and the House of Representatives) should not allow their States to continue to lose lives, property, lands, infrastructure, waters, forests, etc. every year to floods and erosion. All of them can hardly-drive home to their villages because the roads have been cut all over the place. They must know that it is not well with their people. One believes that if our National Assembly Representatives in collaboration with their colleagues from other States can put up enough pressures on the President and the relevant Ministers, they will hear the distressed wails of Ndigbo and will come to Macedonia to help us. The people of these States have been physically and psychologically-destroyed by the myriad of environmental disasters ravaging the State.

Our National Assembly Representatives should hearken to our distress to save their people. A man who throws a stone into a crowded Nkwor-Umuchu market may be aiming at his mother as the victim. Likewise, a goat that is lying on the ground is lying on its hide and skin. Further still, no one should sit by and watch while a goat delivers her baby in a tether. Even if you continue to allow a mad-rabid dog to lie and sleep, it will still wake up! One is aware that gully erosion may not have reached some of the communities. Everyone should better worry because those nearby advancing gullies shall surely-reach most towns and villages eventually unless they are stopped now and controlled. That slave boy who watched with fun, the burial of his master with a fellow slave’s head must realize that a similar fate awaits him in the near future.

Many State governments and their officials have taken the people for a ride over our gully erosion problems. They have done more harm than good to perpetuate the ecological disasters. They hardly showed any interests on the plights of their people over gully erosion problems. Some of them were so corrupt and blind. They misappropriated the much-needed ecological funds that were sent by the Federal government. They planted fake erosion control signboards at gully erosion sites without carrying out any projects at all. In some cases, wishy-washy jobs were done to cover the fraudulent paths they left behind. There are little or no records kept in order to enable them hide their acts. It is a case of evil that men do living with them. These past governments and their officials could not prepare or produce reports, records or designs for gully erosion control and forward to the Federal government or international agencies for possible funding.

They were lazy or lousy to do their job of protecting the people. The number of gully erosion sites in Anambra State, today, is more than three times the presently-quoted figure of 530! No one has thought it wise to update the figure that must have increased over three times! The State and Local Government officials can do much to combat our ecological malaise if the will, honour and integrity are in their conscience. Unfortunately, these positive attributes are in very short supply in their lives. They were prepared to embezzle all the available money while environmentally-disastrous havoc reigns supreme! Even where their communities make genuine efforts at executing self-help erosion control programmes, these government officials are nonchalant. They do not contribute any advice or money.

Our people must no longer continue to wait till-thy-kingdom-come for the Federal, State or Local Government officials to save them from the scourges of floods, soil and gull erosion and landslides now endemic and pandemic all over Igboland! Sincerely, one can see no hope from these governments anymore! We have waited over the last forty years without any serious attempts by anyone or any government for justice except for the Shagari-Ekwueme era. We must, now, take our destiny in our hands right away! Heaven helps those who help themselves. Town union and community leaders and their traditional rulers should mobilize their people immediately towards floods and gully erosion control projects. The educated people, engineers, scientists, etc. should guide their people on what to do. People can also reach our experts at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, for free assistance over what to do to gully erosion and landslides so that they can be provided with expert advice, education and enlightenment. Youths, school children, women, men, umuadas, ndi-ichies, ndi-Nze-na-Ozos, age grades, church leaders, market women, traders, teachers, etc. in every community should come together and become involved in regular flood and erosion control self-help projects.

The people should be allowed to raise and manage their funds for the purpose. They should plant up all open spaces, markets, school fields, church grounds, small channels, etc. with bahama or vetiva grasses. Gully mouths, mid-sections, ends and channels should be planted up with freshly-tender stems of bamboo/otoshi and umune/ogilishi, particularly, now that the rainy season is receding. When these grow up, they will help to stabilize the soils and hold the lands stable. The people who live in urban centres far away from home and who cannot participate in this community exercise should send money for the people at home to execute the exercise. Blocked drains should be reopened and desilted. Water collection sumps, down-gradient of floods, should be dug to reduce outflows. Ridges must be constructed around yam mounds to trap water in the farms. Every compound should have shallow wells dug to collect runoff from rooftops and grounds and the water allowed infiltrate into groundwater. Landlords and tenants should keep drains in front of their compounds open and free of obstructions to water flows. People should be stopped farming or mining laterite from roadsides. Excavation of sands from flood or river channels should be restricted or stopped. These reopen/awaken stabilized gullies. Every community must ensure that no one or no government grades any road anymore in Igboland.

Grading of roads deepens and widens gullies because of the geologic and pedological nature of our soils. When we grade roads in the dry season by smoothening and levelling the potholes we improve expansion of existing gullies or start new ones during rainy season. This is why many rural roads are now very deep, sometimes, more than a man’s height; why many compounds are left hanging by roadsides. Instead of grading roads, we should fill the channels with red earth and harden them. The town union leaders, traditional rulers and youths must watch out for those contractors who construct erosion-causing roads and stop them from deviant acts before they perpetrate their havoc of erosion-causation. Communities should get the contract terms from the government or whoever awarded the road contract to ensure that proper specifications are adhered to. They should monitor the road constructions and ensure that the contractors do not construct narrow and short drainages that they hide in the bush where they initiate and open up new gullies sooner than later.

These communities should tax their men and women to carry out these erosion control exercises.They should get the necessary bylaws and enforce them for their environmental survival and safety. Almost all towns in Anambra State still have ancient forests around shrines, markets or open spaces. Presently, there are severe encroachments into these forests through wood felling and timber exploitation. Many forests have disappeared and are disappearing fast. Our communities should survey and mark off these forests to save and protect them. Wherever these forests have been removed or interfered with, gullies have set in. There are also many abandoned river channels and ancient dry valleys. Communities must avoid developments in these places since some of them are geologically-unstable and environmentally-sensitive. Where we recklessly-tamper with their existence, we may encounter emergence of massive gullies or landslides! People may not know but our laws, statutes, decrees, edicts and bylaws have sections and clauses for environmental protection and management. Communities and individuals are advised to resort to court actions to seek redress for damages inflicted by scavengers and truant environmental nuisances or marauders!

Our courts can award costs for and stop reckless damages inflicted by anyone, governments, organizations or agencies on any part of the environment be it air, land, soil, water or rock or biosphere. People can and should go to court to challenge the vicious atrocities perpetrated by some people, governments or organizations that cause floods, gully erosion and landslides. Adjacent towns, communities or cultures can come together to carry out together the above projects for permanence otherwise if a gully is controlled in one town and left elsewhere, it may continue in another town, may spread and fight back! There is a great need for cooperation and coordination across towns, communities and cultures for more lasting effectiveness and permanence.

If every community can embark on all the above self-help programmes, floods, soil and gully erosion and landslides will be given a fair fight in Igboland and beyond. Many living-gullies shall be drained of their life-water-bloods, whither away and die. Few new gullies will have little or no chance to sprout, live and mature.

Professor Dr. Boniface Egboka, FNAH, (umuigbo@igbo-land.com) is the Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies and also teaches Environmental Hydrogeology at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria.


Osondu
The Survival Struggle for Ndiigbo

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