Kogi After 2012 Floods – Muhammad Bashir

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Never in history has there been such a great number of internally-displaced people (IDP) in Kogi State as a result of natural disaster.

The flood ravaged many parts of the country in 2012, but drew great attention to Kogi which was heavily devastated. A total of 623,690 displaced people were accommodated in 87 camps across the state during the period.

Months after the flood, several clean-up measures have been taken by the Kogi State government in order to address the people’s gory experience during the period and after.

Some of those who have since returned to their homes are still in utmost confusion with regard to coping with life, as many of them are yet to recover from the upset.

Judged from the level of damage and destruction caused by the flood, the people have expressed their joy that there was no similar experience last year as it would have been one disaster too many.

The natural disaster of 2012 brought with it great flooding of the roads which made them impassable. Many school buildings became refugee camps. Houses were submerged. Properties and infrastructures were badly affected. Farm lands, crops and animals were washed away.

The disaster was said to have destroyed property worth billions of Naira. It was one disaster that the people and the Kogi State government are still struggling to come to terms with considering the monumental destruction it caused.

As a result of this, there were several donations from governments, good-spirited individuals and corporate organisations. The state received the sum of N753,092,704 with major donations of N500 million, N150 million, N50 million and N10 million,N10 million coming from the Federal Government, Dangote, Jide Omokore, Alhaji Isa Kutepa and Kano State Government respectively.

Despite these donations, there have been strong complaints by the people, particularly victims of the flood that nothing tangible has been done to lessen the suffering they are going through after the flood that sacked them from their ancestral homes.

But the Kogi State Deputy Governor Yomi Awoniyi who also doubles as Chairman, State Emergency Management Agency said through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Abu Michael that the state was and has been very sensitive to the plight of victims of the flood.

So much, according to Abu, was and is still being done to alleviate the sticky-situation of genuine flood victims in the state.

“Genuine victims of the flood disaster in the state” Abu explained, “can testify that the state has taken the issues of rehabilitation and post-flood management for which the state received some grants very seriously.”

Aside the disbursement of N139 million to victims of the disaster in the nine affected local government areas, the government, he said, built 272 houses with another 300 to commence ‘this month.

Many people have criticised the housing scheme in terms of its location as nine local government areas were gravely affected.

Abu said: “Those completed in Lokoja are among the first phase of housing scheme for majority of its citizens, with special emphasis on relocating those affected and living by the shoreline. The feat of relocating affected persons to houses built by government will be replicated in other affected local government areas as soon as funds are available.”

The modalities for giving out the already completed houses, he said, are being worked out by relevant agencies.

Kogi State, investigations revealed, remains the only state that operated relief camps for flood victims six months after the flood had receded. Provision of food stuffs, medicines and clothing for those in the camp was given serious attention.

While winding up the camps in February last year, each of the victims received N50, 000 and foodstuffs to assist them resettle in their new homes.

However, there were complaints by some people who were given between N3, 000 and N5, 000. This, according to Usman Isah, a resident of Gadumo, was insulting to the psyche of those who lost all they had.

Currently, the state government has almost completed the renovation of most schools where victims of the flood disaster were camped. The renovation exercise cost the government N81million.

Similarly, all roads that were affected by the flood, Abu Michael, Chief Press Secretary to Awoniyi explained, was constructed at the cost of N423m. To cushion the effects of washed farmlands, a 6, 500 hectares rice plantation was established along the flood plains of affected local government areas where lots of youths and women are gainfully employed. This has currently placed the state on the world map as major rice producer.

This initiative, Abu noted, cost the state N200 million. The produce of last harvest was publicly and, through a 60:40 ratio shared between the government and buyers. After the harvest the state government out rightly bought the produce from farmers and issued out cheques to them.

Some others who claimed to have worked on the farms recently protested that they were never paid. This, Abu described as untrue and said everyone who worked in the farm had received their wages in spite of support in clearing and other logistic assistance they farmers received from government.

Since after the flood, the government has spent much money in the areas of education, housing, transport and health.

For instance, six of the primary schools that were used as relief camps are being renovated at the cost of N81, 376,464.55.

The post-flood housing estate in the first phase of the scheme which comprised 272 units of one-bedroom and two-bedroom units cost government N504 million.

Contracts for fixing badly affected roads were awarded at the cost of N423million.

The government, as part of proactive measures, opened alternative east and west routes to avoid the sufferings encountered by commuters during the natural disaster.

Government’s effort in the area of dry season farming to make up for the huge loss of farmlands, Abu said, is also most commendable as over 6,500 hectares of cluster rice farmlands under the Fadama programme, an initiative that has cost the government N200 million.

He said claims of neglect by some of the victims were unfair; adding that within the resources available, government has continuously addressed the challenges caused by the flood. He restated that donations received by the state during the flood disaster were judiciously used for the purposes for which they were made.

Abu said: “The assistance to farmers and fishermen whose farm lands, crops and fish ponds were washed away had been wholesome. I would want the people to appreciate the efforts of government and not play politics with the seriousness government attaches to the rehabilitation of lives of its citizenry.

“The process leading to rehabilitation of people and places affected by the flood is an ongoing and continuous exercise.”

The Nation gathered that majority of the flood victims whose houses were flooded, had since gone back to their various homes.

The Commissioner for Environment and Physical Development, Hon. Abdulrahaman Wuya, told our correspondent that the envisaged flood of 2013 was averted through the proactive measure taken by the government, saying the 2012 flood came unexpectedly.

Wuya, however, insisted that people dwelling around the river banks should consider seeking an alternative place of abode.

Also, the Special Adviser to Kogi State Governor on Environment, Mr Ladi Ahmed Jato, in the same manner advised those who reside at river banks to always be mindful of the fact that they are living in a dangerous terrain.

A Retired civil servant and a house owner at Gadumo River Bank in Lokoja, Joseph Ibrahim told our correspondent that he was able to build his three bedroom apartment through savings he made when he was in service.

“Where do they expect us to go? Are they praying for another flood? Anyway, I can never leave my house for any flood. If there is flood today, I will temporarily leave and come back once it receded,” he said.

Meanwhile, there have been calls and agitations that government should, as a matter of urgency, propose to the State House of Assembly to declare all river bank areas as green zones. The move, they believe, would make the people move away from flood-prone areas.


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