A former security adviser to the Bayelsa State Government, Chief Perekeme Kpodoh, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to stop releasing ecological funds to the governors.
Kpodoh said that the recurrent destructive effects of floods across the country was enough evidence that ecological funds were being diverted by governors.
Data from the National Emergency Management Agency show that death toll from flooding in the 2022 flood season has so fat reached 500.
Kpodoh in a statement in Yenagoa, the state capital, on Wednesday, October 12, 2022, observed that the governors had completely failed to use ecological funds allocated to them for projects required to mitigate flood disasters in their domains.
He said the failures of the governors had led to loss of lives, destruction of properties, farmlands and displacement of millions from their homes because of unmitigated flood disasters.
Kpodoh lamented that the governors were hiding under the immunity cover provided in the constitution to recklessly divert ecological funds and perpetrate other financial misdeeds.
He said it was high time the Presidency, National Assembly and civil organisations worked together to shred the veil of immunity encouraging governors’ misdemeanor, to enable the people to hold them accountable.
He advised President Muhammadu Buhari to send ecological funds directly to flood-prone communities to help them embark on projects, including construction of high-rise assembly points in their areas to deal with the recurrent disaster.
The security expert called on Buhari to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to probe the governors’ diversion of the ecological funds.
Kpodoh said: “The governors must be compelled to account for the ecological funds allocated to them by the Federal Government. These funds are supposed to be used for projects necessary to mitigate the negative effects of floods.
“Despite collecting these billions of naira, we have not seen what these governors are doing with the money. Every year flood story remains the same. Innocent people are swept away, properties are destroyed, houses are submerged, and farmlands are wasted.
“We cannot continue like this. It is high time the Presidency, the National Assembly and civil society groups worked together to remove the immunity clause covering these governors and making them unaccountable.
“We are also calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to compel the EFCC and the ICPC to probe these governors and the diversion of funds allocated to them to solve ecological problems like flood.”
In a related development, Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers on Wednesday approved the sum of N1 billion for emergency relief for flood victims in the state.
Wike announced this in a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr Kelvin Ebiri, in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
He said that the amount was to enable the vulnerable families to cope with the devastating flood that had affected their homes and farmlands, thus forcing them to relocate to safer places.
The governor, who empathised with the flood victims, also set up a task force to coordinate the distribution of relief materials to the affected communities.
The six-man task force was headed by the Permanent Secretary, Special Services Bureau (SSB), Dr George Nwaeke.
Other members include Mrs Inime Aguma (Secretary); Mr Hope Ikiriko, Chairman of Ahoada West LGA; Mr Vincent Job, Chairman of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA; and Mr Chukwuemeka Onowu, Director of Administration, Ministry of Special Duties.
All members of the task force have been directed to meet with the governor on Oct. 13.
Wike, who also appointed 28,000 Special Assistants for all the political units in the state, said that the appointments took immediate effect.
The governor had, on Oct. 11, appointed 319 Ward Liaison Officers and 40 Local Government Area Liaison Officers.
By Nathan Nwakamma and Precious Akutamadu