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