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More states could ‘taste’ floods

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A Taraba community ravaged by flood.

A Taraba community ravaged by flood.

When the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), urged 11 state governments to take pro-active action against imminent flooding in their domains, many were overcome by grief as they play back, mind-boggling images of the 2012 flood, which nearly appropriated the entire country.

But emerging scenario tends to point to the fact that more states than predicted may end up being 2016 victims of floods.

In that alert, which was contained in a statement signed by the Head, Corporate Communications, Public Relations Unit, National Weather Forecasting and Climate Research Centre of Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Eva Azinge, the 11 state, which governments were urged to take pro-active action include: Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Kaduna, Kwara, Nasarawa, Yobe and Zamfara.

But right now, two states that were not included in the list of states to be affected have so far tasted the bitter pills that the flood offers. The states are Kano and Sokoto.

Only two weeks ago, over 3, 000 residents were dislodged and property worth of millions naira destroyed. Government-owned structures, including the Murtala Mohammed Specialist Hospital; Kano Pension Trust Fund, and the State Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation Agency, were also taken over by the flood.

Sokoto road in the metropolis, where the last two outfits are located and other major roads in the metropolis like the newly rehabilitated Zaria Road, Silver Jubilee, Murtala Muhammed Way, Ibrahim Taiwo and Hadiga roads were all under flood water.

With data from the state emergency agency indicating that about 300 locals lost their farmlands, harvest and property to the flood in Warawa and Garun-Mallam in June alone, and the flood washing away farmlands and blowing off houses of 400 residents of Bebeji local council area, while 196 residents of Konar Dangora in Kiru recorded degrees of losses, the state appears to be in for more trouble in the coming days.

Sokoto State was not listed as one of the endangered states, but many houses were destroyed last Tuesday in Bachaka Village in Gudu Local Council, by flood in an early morning downpour, which lasted several hours.

Lawmaker representing Gudu Constituency (APC) in the State House of Assembly, Alhaji Sani Yakubu, said, “The downpour affected no fewer than 300 households in the village. Although, no life was lost, the villagers lost domestic wares and foodstuffs stored in their silos.”

Director General of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Alhaji Hassan Maccido, also promised to send a team of experts to the village to assess the extent of damage.

The situation in Yobe State is another one that is raising concerns, as illustrated by the Executive Secretary, Yobe State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Alhaji Musa Jidawa, who on Wednesday, said over 300 houses, farmlands and livestock had been destroyed by flood in Jakusko and Adaya communities.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Damaturu, Jidawa said, “We received report of over 250 houses destroyed in Jakusko and about 54 others in Adaya, but no life was lost, the affected people are taking shelter with relations in the communities.”

Jidawa, who said the agency had embarked on enlightenment campaign, urging communities on waterways to vacate the water routes to avoid disaster added, “There are early warning signals indicating flood in some states, including Yobe, we have therefore addressed flood-prone communities to evacuate the water path.”

According to the executive secretary, Ngelzarma, Jajere, Nangere, Buduwa, Nguru, Gashua, Damagum, Dapchi and some communities in Tarmuwa experience flooding almost every year.

While some states are doing all they can to mitigate the impending crisis, Abia State is throwing its hand in the air, insisting it lacks the financial capacity to handle emergencies that may arise from possible flood disaster.

Secretary to the state government, Dr. Eme Okoro, who spoke in Umuahia, against the backdrop of the recent forecast of possible flood disaster, said, “The funds for the immediate intervention in the event of flooding are not readily available because funds from NEMA have whittled down. If we are faced with the magnitude of flooding that requires evacuation of the affected communities, we shall beckon on the Federal Government for its intervention.”

Business activities in parts of Taraba State have been brought to a standstill following heavy downpour, which have given rise to floods in some communities across the state including Magami in Jalingo metropolis.

In the last three weeks no fewer than five persons have been killed by the flood in different parts of the state. However, those lucky to be alive are miffed at what they described as the state government’s lukewarm attitude towards them.

At the time of filing this report, the state government, had not reached out to the affected persons, especially in the areas of shelters and relief materials.

One of the victims, Mallam Umar, who lost his house and farmland said no single government official had yet showed up to asses the level of destruction in the area.

“All my savings from my long years of struggle have gone down the drain within a twinkle of an eye, and we have been rendered incapacitated because we were unable to rescue any of our property.”

When contacted, the state Commissioner of Information and Orientation, Anthony Danburam, said he was ignorant of the flood, saying, “We are not aware of the flood.”

He, however, promised to get across to the environment and urban planning counterpart, as well as the leadership of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).

On his part, the SEMA boss, Paul Pino, in a telephone interview with The Guardian said, that the agency has written to the state government for the release of funds to take care of these flood victims, and also to put in place measures to reduce the impact of subsequent flash floods.

The agency had also drafted a team to the affected areas to access the level of damage caused by the flood. Taraba State is bordered by the largest part of River Benue as well as Lake Nyon in the neighboring Cameroon Republic. This development exposes the state to incessant floods.

In Benue, residents of communities living along River Benue and Katsina- Ala are sleeping with one eye open, and the state government is unrelenting in urging residents of riverbanks and those of flood prone areas to vacate their habitation and move to higher grounds.

The state Commissioner of Water and Environment, Nick Wende, said the warning handed to t residents, especially those in Makurdi was necessary to avert massive damage and loss of lives.

According to Wende, “We have commenced awareness campaign. We are telling those resident in flood prone areas in the state to vacate immediately. The government is going to be proactive this time around because we don’t want to go into compensation of victims again after the flood.”

Executive Secretary of State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) Mr. Boniface Ortese, said in line with the recommendation of the Technical Management Committee of NEMA, plots of land have been set aside by government for allocation to those from areas prone to flooding.

He maintained that it was in a bid to mitigate the effect of flooding that government has intensified efforts in the building and cleaning up of drainage system in the cities across the state, as well as mounting sensitisation and awareness campaigns.

The Guardian’s visit to most flood prone areas in Makurdi, including Wadata; Achusa, opposite Zone 4 Police Headquarters; Kyado villa, opposite Judges Quarters, Wurukum Settlement, as well as, places like Buruku, Otukpo, Logo, and Katsina-Ala local council areas, revealed that even as no serious flooding has taken place, residents of some of the areas have started relocating to safer grounds for imminent safety.


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