Flood displaces over 110,000 people in Makurdi
• Buhari directs NEMA to deploy aid to victims
The Benue State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has said over 110,000 people in 24 communities including Makurdi, the state capital, have been displaced by flood in recent months.
The Executive Secretary of the agency, Boniface Ortese, told newsmen in Makurdi on Wednesday that over 2,769 households were also affected.He explained that places affected included Achusa, Idye, Wurukum Market, Genabe, Industrial Layout, Demekpe, Wadata Market, Katungu, behind the Civil Service Commission, Agboughul-Wadata among others.
Meanwhile, President Mohammadu Buhari has directed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to immediately mobilize personnel and resources to provide aid to victims.
A statement by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, last night said Buhari is closely monitoring the situation and is receiving regular updates on the scale of the disaster, as well as the Federal Government’s humanitarian response.”
The statement said the president has also extended his sympathies to the government and people of Benue State, and assured that the Federal Government will make available any assistance needed to enable the state and affected communities cope with and surmount the impact
of the flooding.
Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment, Joseph Utsev, has urged the Federal Government to include Benue among states to benefit from the N1.6 billion ecological intervention fund.
Utsev said since 2013, the state had not received any ecological assistance from the Federal Government. He added that if adequate budgetary provisions were made, many disasters may be mitigated since natural disasters could only be controlled.
The commissioner said that dredging the River Benue would provide a permanent solution to the recurring flood in the state. “Benue Government is looking for ways in which River Benue can be dredged; this is because by dredging the river, the water can be accommodated and thus, prevent future overflow.
However, a cross section of Makurdi residents accused the state government of doing little to protect the citizens from flood disaster over the years. A resident told NAN “since the 2012 flood disaster, government has done little to mitigate the situation apart from talking.”
James Udam, a resident of Idye Village told NAN that for over 20 years of his stay in the village, government has done nothing to protect residents despite their cries. “This is where we find ourselves in Benue. Government officials are rather happy that there is heavy flood disaster so as to get free funds and relief materials to divert.
“The same thing is again about to happen. The only thing the government has done so far is to make noise. Not a single culvert has been constructed to mitigate the situation since 2012,” he lamented
Also, Juliana Agbo, a resident of Achusa, told NAN that their situation was pathetic as they have no shelter. According to her, government was yet to open camp for IDPs in the state. Investigations revealed that government officials involved in emergency management are still awaiting the governor’s approval to open IDPs camps.