Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has said that 21 local government areas in the state are facing ecological challenges.
Ortom said this when the Minister of State for Environment, Mr Ibrahim Jibril, visited him in Makurdi on Monday.
He lamented the level of devastation and destruction caused by flood and other environmental challenges in the state.
The governor said the ecological challenges ranged from collapsed bridges, culverts, to destruction of roads, farmlands and houses, among others.
Ortom said erosion sites could be found in Guma, Makurdi, Tarka, Gboko, Obi, Otukpo, Ukum, Katsina-Ala and other areas.
He said River Benue and River Katsina-Ala needed to be dredged as a major measure to control flooding in the state.
“We are really handicapped with the situation. We need funds to build massive water channels and big drains for uninterrupted water flow to River Benue.
“We want to assure the Federal Government that every fund given to the state would be judiciously used in addressing the flood and environmental challenges,’’ Ortom said.
The governor directed those living along the water channels to relocate on or before the first quarter of 2018 or their houses would be demolished.
Earlier in his address, the minister of state called for the enforcement of town planning regulations across the country to check the incidence of flooding.
Jibril advised that town planning regulations should be fully enforced to address some ecological issues such as flooding in the country.
He said the regulations would prevent people from building on water drains to ensure uninterrupted water flow along the drains.
Jibril said the Federal Government would introduce “emergency measures that will evacuate people easily and quickly during disasters.’’
He said, “We may not be able to relocate people completely from flood-prone areas, but we can provide basic emergency measures to assist victims immediately during disasters,’’ the minister said.
He described the Benue flood incident as “an urgent national issue that needs to be addressed.’’
Jibril said he was in the state on the President’s directive to inspect the ecological challenges that led to the flood disaster and report back to him.
He said that one of the causes of flood was climate change and commended the Benue State Government for its efforts at addressing the issues.