With the devastating effects of climate change across the globe and with particular reference to the2013 flood disasters that ravaged 18 states including Kogi, thereby causing extensive flooding in eight local governments and displacing more than 630,000 people.
As most of the affected victims were settling down and putting behind their sad experiences yet came another prediction by the Nigeria Metrological Agency (NIMET), that there will be heavy rains this year that could surpass that of 2012.
With such prediction and persistent warning by NIMET, the Kogi State Government has urged those people living on flood plains to relocate to avoid the ugly experience of last year experience.
This is coming shortly after it had disbursed a total sum of N144million to flood victims and closing the 87 relief camps created it quickly established at the height of the flood crisis.
In line with the determination to guard against unforeseen circumstances, the government said it has also identified some high plains where relief camps will be constructed to relocate victims whenever there is flood so as not to close schools which normally affects students and pupils since their classrooms are usually converted to refugee camps during flood disasters.
Moreover, the government will soon take delivery the first 272 housing units built at the cost of N665 million at the ‘Post Flood Housing Estate’, Lokoja to be given to flood victims while the government also pledged to replicate the same in all the affected local government areas of the state , While inspecting the housing estate recently, the Governor, Captain Idris Wada stated that the state government is committed to the welfare of the victims having shared in the pains and agony during the three months in which the flood disaster lasted.
Only recently the United Nation under Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Relief Emergency Coordinator, Baroness Valerie Amos, who visited the state pledged that the UN is willing to give technical expertise both the federal and state government s in disaster management .
Baroness Amos who gave this assurance, stated that her team was in the country and to find out how to it can partner with the affected states. She explained that team is expected to visit the four flood ravaged states of Kogi, Delta, Anambra and Bayelsa to assess the post flood era and see how possible best the organisation can assist these state to prevent future occurrence.
She said that one of major ways to avert future disasters is by heeding strictly to the early warning and for those who are likely to be affected to relocate to safer plains.
The UN official disclosed that the organisation is willing to assist in technical capacity building and expertise as to tackle emergency situations, stressing that the UN will also assist the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to be able to live up to future challenges.
She advocated for better ways to improve early warnings and response to future flood disasters. Baroness Amos assured of partnership with all tiers of government to bring succour to those whose livelihood were adversely affected by the flood.
The technical expertise to be provided will include building and managing displaced persons camp, even as she commended the federal and Kogi State government for their quick response to the disaster. Capt Idris Wada described last year’s flood in the state as devastating, as it affected farmlands, infrastructures and destroyed houses and businesses.
Represented by the Deputy Governor, Yomi Awoniyi ,he disclosed that several intervention measures has been made to mitigate the effect of the flood on the people and in the rebuilding of infrastructures, as he appealed for support from the UN as the destruction was overwhelming. As 2013 rainy season gathers momentum and predictions by the NIMET that there will be more rains than last year, last year flood victims are already panicking following their inability to relocate from the flood plains.
Incidentally, many of the victims in the nine affected local government areas of the state are yet to agree on the terms for payment of losses for houses, farm lands and other properties, as well as those who lost relations to the flood. Following the hardship being faced by the affected victims the state, ,the communities in riverine areas which houses and farm lands were submerged during the last flood disaster have once again appealed to the state and local governments for more assistance as survival has become a herculean task.
The traditional heads of and their subject in Iganuma, Adabode and Edegaki villages are unanimous in their appeal ,while receiving the Programme Officer of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and newsmen who were on post flood assessment in the affected local government areas.
They also lauded the state government for the recent assistance, even as they stressed that it was not enough as they have continued to live in abject poverty as result of the 2012 flood on their homes and farmlands. The traditional ruler of Iganuma, Chief Musa Garuba, expressed worries over the paltry sum given to the victims in the village, stating that life is becoming increasingly difficult for them.
He pointed out that many houses have been washed away while the owners are unable to rebuild them due to lack of money, as he said that while people are still battling to survive after the flood, another rainstorm wrecked havoc on the community by removing many roofing sheets. Secretary of the community, Momoh Shaibu revealed that the sum of N250,000 given to affected flood victims and was not shared proportionally, as some elders got N4,500, while others got N2,500, N1,000 and N500 respectively which are not enough for purchase of building materials.
Shuaibu, quoted the state Commissioner for Environment, Alhaji Abdulrahman Wuya as saying that there was no money anywhere to be shared among the victims.
He lamented that that the sum of N250, 000 given to the community was not enough for a single victim who lost his house and farmland to the flood. At Adabode Village, the Duty Chief, Mallam Shuaibu Usman, lamented that following the extent of damage in the village a total of 251 residents are still in relief camps.
Usman explained that the sum of N260, 000 was received and shared to all victims at N3, 000 each, stressing that life has become difficult as all their farmlands were washed away. He bemoaned the inability of the state and local governments to allocate a new piece of land to flood victims so they could to relocate, which is why many of them have refused to return to the village fearing there may be flood that could bring another disaster.
Also speaking, the Arika of Edegaki, Alhaji Abdulkareem Musa who was represented by Mallam Ibrahim Ahmed, stated that life has not been same since last year’s flood disaster, even as he commended the federal and state governments for the little assistance and urged them to help rebuild the houses washed away by the flood. Ahmed also admitted that a sum of N260, 000 was given to victims in the village which was shared to all at N3, 000 each.
He however noted that no member of the community was willing to relocate, even if the state and local governments provided alternative land, stressing that they cannot leave their ancestral home to become strangers in another land. The sad story is not different in Lokoja and other seven local government areas where the victims are already contemplating how to share the money disbursed to them. One of the victims whose residence was destroyed at the Bank of the River Niger at Adankolo and Camp leader at St. Luke Primary school, Dan Musa Bashir, stated that his hope to relocate to another place has become now a mirage.