FG budgets N43.7bn for erosion and flood control, plans to mitigate effects in 2023

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ON Wednesday January 4, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the N21.83 trillion 2023 appropriation bill into law, an increase of N1.32 trillion over the initial Executive Proposal for a total expenditure of N20.51 trillion.

The ICIR gathered that the National Assembly introduced new projects into the 2023 budget proposal, for which it has appropriated N770.72 billion. The National Assembly also increased the provisions made by ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) by N58.55 billion.

A review of the 2023 approved budget shows that the Federal Ministry of Environment has budgeted over N43.7 billion for new projects associated with erosion and flood control out of the approved N49.7 billion for the capital expenditure of the ministry.

The amount is a 141.6 per cent increase on the sum of N18.1 billion budgeted for erosion and flood control in 2022.

In the budget, the ministry is allocated N86.4 billion for personnel, overhead and capital development fund for the entire 2023.

While scrutinising and passing the budget into law, the National Assembly directed a committee to introduce N200 billion in the budget to ecological funding under the Presidency to prepare and plan further ahead for recurrent flood.

This development may not be disconnected from the 2022 torrential floods that left the country in chaos.

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Nigeria experienced extreme flooding across the country in 2022. The flooding, which occurred across 35 states, resulted in many deaths, while thousands of people were displaced, farmlands submerged and millions of naira in property destroyed.

Known to be the worst flooding incident in the past 10 years, the disaster resulted in more than 600 deaths, and no fewer than 2,776 persons were injured.

Allocation of 49 per cent of the Environment ministry’s budget to erosion and flood control is being seen as Federal government’s commitment to avoiding the reoccurrence of the 2022 and 2012 flooding incidents.

It could be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated a committee on flood prevention and disaster management on November 3, 2022.

The committee was expected to work on preventive measures, and also draft action plans that will mitigate the effect of flood in the future.

According to a report, the chairman of the committee and Minister of Water Resources Suleiman Adamu, who spoke with journalists in Abuja, disclosed that the committee would within 90 days create action plans for preventing floods and disasters in Nigeria.

An expert who spoke to The ICIR said it was not clear if Nigeria is targeting an end to flooding in 2023.

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According to the Team Lead, GIFSIP, and Africa Regional Coordinator of Citizens Climate, David Mike Terungwa, the Federal government’s approach to flooding incidents had been responsive rather than preventive, noting that most of the funds released during the 2022 flood were for relief and emergency materials.

On whether the money the government budgeted to mitigate flood control in 2023 would be adequate for the purpose, Terungwa said “No, because of the approach. If we are planning for flood control in 2023, then we have missed the target. I can assure you that if there would be flooding this year, we may experience the same devastation we had last year, or it may even be worse because it appears that our approach is more of responsive rather than preventive.

“So most of this sum would rather go for relief materials, and the fact is that there’s a lot that needs to be done. Firstly, I know that the presidential committee on flood is still working and am not sure if they have presented their report yet. But solving the issues of flooding in Nigeria has to be two approaches -one will be short-term and then the other will be long-term.”

He stressed that the impact and effect of climate change would not stop now as it is increasing by the day, adding that it is a weakness of many other countries around the world. 

Terungwa also bemoaned the lack of awareness in most regions affected by flood, stating that many people are relocating to their houses despite the locations still prone to flood.

He advised that the displaced persons should be relocated to safer grounds rather than be returned to the flood-prone locations.

Speaking on the responsibility of state and local government leaders, the GIFSIP head said state governments should also take measures and execute flood control related projects.

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“This, for me, should be where the solutions should start from. The state governments should come together, especially in those states that are prone to flooding, by increasing their budgets. First, it will be important to check how much Kogi, Anambra, Bayelsa, Benue and Jigawa states have budgeted for flood control, and see if there is a need to build head dams and quick dams,” he said.

He, however, noted that these projects can not be completed in one, two or three years.

The Presidency has questioned how the state governments have been utilising money received from the Ecological Fund since the beginning of the incumbent administration.

According to a report by Daily Trust, about N1 trillion, representing 2.2 per cent of the total budgets for 2018, 2019 and 2023, was budgeted for ecological and disaster management.

The report stated, “In 2018, 2.2 per cent of the estimated N9.120 trillion budget, amounting to N198 billion, was set aside for the Ecological Fund. In 2019, 2.2 per cent of the budget of N132 billion was allocated for the fund, while in July 2021, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) reportedly approved N16.04 billion Ecological Fund for projects across 12 states for the third and fourth quarters of 2020.” 

In 2023, 2.2 per cent of the N21 trillion budget indicates a N462 billion allocation for the Ecological Fund.

Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected] He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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