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Metamorphosis from EDO NEWMAP to EDO FEWMA

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By Eseosa Okhemuokho

On Friday, January 20, 2023, history was made in Edo State, and memories were captured as well during the event held at the New Festival Hall of the Edo State Government House, where dignitaries and all Stakeholders present witnessed the eminent transition tagged ‘Metamorphosis’ from EDO NEWMAP to EDOFEWMA. This auspicious occasion had in attendance the Executive Governor of the State, Governor Godwin Obaseki, the Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, the Head of Service, Anthony Okungbowa Osas (Esq.), members of the Executive Council (EXCO) in the State, the Project Coordinator NEWMAP, now Chief Executive Officer, Edo FEWMA, Dr. Tom Obaseki, Traditional rulers; the Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Momoh, Ekelebe III, the Onojie of Ugboha, Stephen Odigie, the Chief Imam of Benin Kingdom, Sheik Abdulfatai Enabulele, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Professor Lilian Salami, and other special guests.

The Edo NEWMAP (Nigerian Erosion and Watershed Management Project), a World Bank-funded project has recorded great feats over the last ten years of operation in the State and made meaningful impacts that will go down in history and also become a reference for posterity. Having completed fifteen major flood and gully erosion problems across the three senatorial districts of the State, the transition from EDO NEWMAP to EDO FEWMA (Flood and Erosion Watershed and Management Agency) under the Governor Obaseki led administration is highly commendable as there is great hope for not only continuity but also the sustainability of the environmental projects already done.

While giving his Speech, His Excellency pledged to sustain efforts geared toward environmental sustainability. In his words, “as a government, and with FEWMA, we will insist going forward, no Agency, not Federal not International, not local will undertake projects without coming to register them with FEWMA”. “We are sending out a note to Federal agencies, NDDC, we will not allow them to work in Edo if they don’t share their plans with us, particularly, erosion control plans because they are giving us more trouble for our environment than benefits.” He also said, “over the last ten years, we have spent over one hundred and fifty million dollars trying to repair what we have damaged by ourselves”. The Governor also thanked the Management of FEWMA for their support in ensuring that even if the funds for the project by NEWMAP are finished, the idea is not, hence the need to ensure sustenance which gave rise to FEWMA. He also applauded them for not only focusing on restoring our environment but also restoring livelihoods and giving hope to devastated Communities that had suffered from the environmental menace. 

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) EDOFEWMA, Dr. Tom Obaseki in his opening remark said that NEWMAP was approved by the World Bank on May 12th, 2012.  He added that one of the requirements by NEWMAP, was for a State to trigger effectiveness and Edo State was the State that recorded such in the overall Project of NEWMAP across the country. In his words “one of the requirements for the effectiveness of the Project then was for a State to trigger effectiveness, and I’m also happy to let you know that out of the seven States that were then in NEWMAP, Edo State was the State that triggered the effectiveness of NEWMAP as a project in Nigeria.” He also said that twenty-three (23) States participated in the last ten years. Edo however distinguished herself greatly when he said “Edo State did not only come tops in the achievement of the Project development objectives of the Project, while it was expected for every State to have contributed 4.2% to the overall success, Edo State alone accounted for a whopping 17% of the overall success of NEWMAP in Nigeria” He categorically mentioned that all these achievements would not have become a reality but for the conscious, deliberate and passionate demonstration of strong-will by His Excellency, Governor Obaseki. He also said that the successor Agency, EDOFEWMA is the only single collection of Professionals today made up of; Environmentalists, Natural resource experts, Climate Change experts, Civil Engineers and Surveyors. EDOFEWMA was signed into Law by Governor Obaseki on July 23rd, 2021.  

Suffice it to say that NEWMAP also devised a technology that helps to address the issue of flooding by curtailing the menace posed by plastic and aluminum can wastes called ‘eTRASH’ redemption Scheme, anchored on an App known as ‘PikAmSel’. This app helps to transform waste into wealth and ensure a flood-free environment while at it.  

Representatives of beneficiary communities present from the three senatorial districts also had the opportunity of sharing testimonies on how NEWMAP came to their aid when their lives and properties were being threatened. From Edo North, Oshiobugie in Auchi was Alhaji Momodu Abudu who described the area as an ‘ancestral devastated area’. He said, “when this present administration came in and we were thinking of NEWMAP, we thought that things will not go well again, but immediately we saw things changing.” According to him, sixty communities benefitted from their excellent work, adding that the watershed area at the Igbe road has been tackled and has become a place where people who knew it before now want to come back to. From Edo Central in Emu-Ohordua was Reverend Father Andrew Elebaluagbon who said that during his first visit to the Emu gully site, he could not go close due to fear of the gully, and the fact that over six incidences of deaths had been recorded there as well. He continued by saying that many did not believe anything good will come out from NEWMAP since others had also attempted to bring solutions to the gully problem in time past, to no avail. He added “I stand here to testify, that they did not only solve the gully erosion, they also tarred the road with double drainage, and also constructed a Cassava mill for the people, with a functional bore-hole”. Edo South, in Urora Community had Mr. Francis Ajabu appreciate the Edo State government and NEWMAP for the good work done in their community. He said “I was not told how the Community looks like when that erosion problem was ravaging the Community, I was inside the erosion, my building was inside the erosion.” He also said, “there was a day rain fell, only for me to wake up and discover that it was only my Wife, and myself that was in the environment, everybody packed and ran away, it was as bad as that.” He was thankful that today, car owners can drive into their houses, children can go to school on their own, and women can also go about their businesses, which was not possible in time past.

The Onojie of Ugboha, Otako Stephen Odigie in a goodwill message expressed his unreserved gratitude to the State Governor for the good work done by NEWMAP in his Community. He said that NEWMAP came in when their intervention was needed the most. In his words “we couldn’t go out, we couldn’t go for farming, the erosion was something else, but with the help of the NEWMAP and Your Excellency for giving us the platform for the job to be executed, we really thank you, we appreciate you for that.”

Also, His Royal Highness, Ekelebe III, the Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Momoh while giving his goodwill message said, “NEWMAP, I have to testify that they have done well in Auchi, the whole Igbe was more or less submerged in flood, who has just done it, NEWMAP look at him, Tom”. He also appreciated the effort of NEWMAP for rebuilding the Ekelebe Stadium, even if it was not in the plan of NEWMAP’s work, as this has prolonged his life. He said the condition of the Stadium was an eyesore such that people were even defecating in it. In his words “it is more than twice the size now, and what you can think water, lighting and so forth and so on he placed them all there.”    

Highlights of this event were the unveiling of the Official logo of the EDOFEWMA by Governor Obaseki and presentations made to the State Governor by the CEO EDOFEWMA on (i). Edo State NEWMAP detailed completion Report, (ii). The Compendium of all NEWMAP activities, (iii). Previous Awards won by the State at the National level awarded by WorldBank i.e. Best-performing State from the Project’s inception in 2012, Best in Disbursement/Engineering/Civil Works/Bio-Engineering, and Best in Counterpart Funding.

Award presentations were made to deserving Communities in the following categories; (i). Most outstanding Community Interest Group Award, (ii). Most organized and Project Participatory Community Award, (iii). Most peaceful and Project Friendly Community. 

Beneficiary Communities are Gapiona, Oshiobogie-Auchi, and Iguosa. Other areas that received Government intervention are; Ekenhuan, Ogiso, Urora, Fugar-Agenebode, Ewu, Emu, Ibore, Emu-Ohordua and Queen Ede gullies in the State.

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