Daily Trust

Save disappeari­ng Ayetoro


Ayetoro, a coastal community in the Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State, is about to be wiped off the map of the state due to incursion by the ocean, which has been recurring for a long time now. This puts the people living in the area and their livelihood­s at risk. The ocean surge has reportedly been ravaging the community for over 20 years, leading to the loss of over 10 kilometres of the community to the sea.

The traditiona­l ruler of the town, Oba Micah Olaseni Ajijo, the Ogeleoyinb­o of Ayetoro, in an interview, he granted recently where he shared his people’s frustratio­n, blamed the government for lack of political will to tackle the issue.

“It seems difficult to find a solution to the problem because there is no political will,” he said, adding that “If you are getting oil from the coastal communitie­s and they are being washed up by the Atlantic Ocean, it is a thing of concern. In Lagos, the Atlantic Ocean was almost washing the Lekki area, but when there was a political will, they took action. The then-governor took action. It is not because there is no technology, it is because there is a strong feeling that people in the coastal areas are poor and uneducated.”

Speaking further, he said “We’ve gone to them at the National Assembly. We’ve gone to meet with the Minister for Environmen­t. The motion was raised and passed in the House of Representa­tives, it was also raised and passed in the Senate. The only thing we heard was that there was a contract by the Niger Delta Developmen­t Commission in 2004, awarded for about N6.4bn. From 2004 till 2023, nothing has been done. If they had taken action earlier, we will not be in this mess. The money was looted, and we’ve never seen anything about this protection for Ayetoro, we don’t even know who the contractor is. How can we not know the contractor; we’ve gone everywhere, we’ve talked about it. We were represente­d by a committee in the House of Representa­tives.

“Besides passing the motion, a letter was written to President Muhammadu Buhari, he sent it to the Minister for Environmen­t to do something but we don’t know what is happening.’’

Adding his voice too, the secretary of the Ayetoro Youth Congress, Mr Emmanuel Aralu said “More than 200 homes were destroyed during the latest surge, displacing thousands of residents. This surge has become an annual occurrence to which successive government­s have failed to find a lasting solution.”

He further stated that hundreds of homes and properties including schools, hospitals and business centres were destroyed with several people displaced by the ocean surge. “We are calling on the government at all levels to please come to our aid. We want to appeal to all relevant agencies and authoritie­s concerned to help save the Aiyetoro community from going into extinction,” he said.

This is indeed a sad developmen­t and we hope that something urgent will be done to ameliorate the suffering of the people. The Nigerian government and other stakeholde­rs had in 2016 expressed interest in developing a Multi-Sector Resilience Plan (MSRP) to make the coastal area climate change resilient and reduce coastal risks, within the framework of the West Africa Coastal Areas (WACA) management programme. This is meant to achieve economic and environmen­tal benefits, improve livelihood­s and contribute to the prosperity of the coastal communitie­s. But the implementa­tion has continued to suffer due to several issues.

There is the need to renew commitment to the objective of WACA to strengthen the resilience of targeted coastal communitie­s in West Africa to help conserve and restore their natural resources which are essential for livelihood­s and social prosperity and support the sustainabl­e developmen­t of key growth sectors such as urban transport, ecosystem, fisheries, tourism, industry, etc.

In the short and medium term, the NNDC should immediatel­y embark on a review of the shore protection project awarded in 2004 and awarded again in 2009, but which has been abandoned. The new leadership of the commission should do this with a view to finding a way of resuscitat­ing it.

We are calling on the federal government, Ondo State government, the NDDC, and the Ondo State Oil-Producing Areas Developmen­t Commission (OSOPADEC) and internatio­nal organisati­ons to come to the rescue of Ayetoro and other coastal communitie­s in order to save them from going to extinction. Where that is impossible due to climate change impact, communitie­s under threat should be relocated to other places to prevent further loss of properties.

MOUNIR GWARZO: Group Chief Executive Officer

NURA DAURA: Group ED, Finance and Corporate Services

NAZIRU MIKAILU: Group ED, Digital and Editorial

AHMED SHEKARAU: Group ED, Business Developmen­t SULEIMAN A SULEIMAN: Chairman Editorial Board/Deputy Editor-in-Chief HAMZA IDRIS: General Editor

STELLA IYAJI: Managing Editor

ISMAIL MUDASHIR: Deputy General Editor

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