By Chuks Moses, Awka
The Governor of Anambra State, Prof Chukwuma Charles Soludo has acknowledged that the state is facing two disasters in the area of gully erosion menace and dilapidated roads.
Hw disclosed this during the anniversary celebration of Rev Fr Anthony Chiegboka popularly known as “Otimkpu Jesus” at Oko, Orumba North Council of Anambra state.
The Governor joined Fr Chiegboka to celebrate the glory of God upon his life at the solemn thanksgiving mass at St. Peter’s Parish, Oko.
Describing the reverend Father as “a gift to Catholic life, Isuofia Community and Nigeria in general. May your life and services on earth continually be productive…”
He added, “I visit the erosion site at Oko after this mass. Each time, I speak about environment as the number one existential threat in the state.
“Anambra is the gully erosion state in Nigeria. The resources to solve this gully is beyond the capacity of the state government.
“The issue of gully erosion should be a national emergency, together with flooding in 7 local government areas presently submerged under water. Properties, livelihood and farmlands are largely affected by the flood menace.
“Sadly, roads are washed off completely! I have to admit that Anambra have a road crises. We are complaining of that, flood came and destroyed the roads that are already in a bad state.
“We are deploying every penny we have to ensure that in the first phase, we fix strategic roads in the state.
“There are parts of Anambra that have not seen 1 Km of tarred road. Anambra West is the only local government whose headquarters is not accessible but we are working on that. By the first quarter of next year, we will drive to Nzam.
“We are flagging off so many roads from Achina to Umuchu to Umunze, Nnewi South, Osumenyi, Ukpor to Ozubulu, Ihembosi etc.
“Onitsha is the largest city in the South East. We visited New Market Road, Abagana to Nimo. In Okpoko, one million people are trapped there but 14km of road construction is ongoing there.
“We are doing the strategic ones and doing all the unreached roads. Mmili John Ojoto and between Ogbunike and Ogidi, when rain falls, water floods the areas.
“The quality of roads we are delivering is such that Anambra have not had before. We are very strict with our budget due to financial constraints”, the Governor stated.
He emphasised that so far, 146km of roads reconstruction contracts have been awarded, while the government targets 220km roads around the state.
“But we all have a personal responsibility! People block drainages, run off water to the street after building their houses. People should control water flow from their homes because this water flows to the roads and cut them off gradually causing gully erosion.
“All of us collectively have one contribution or the other. We must understand this fact to solve our environmental challenges.
He urged the priests to teach the congregation that the gully erosion in the state were man-made.
“The State Government will do the much they can within its capacity. We shall intervene but the people have their own personal responsibility.
“The Federal, State Government and the people have their own collective responsibility. If this is done, Nigeria will be well,” Soludo said
Fr Chiegboka in his remark said he was celebrating 30 years of Priesthood, while the Governor and his wife were also celebrating 30 years marriage anniversary.
He thanked the Governor and his wife for standing by him and being there throughout his life.
He acknowledged Mr Governor’s vision for a liveable and prosperous homeland and his impact on road construction.