In Benue State, persons affected with flood in the previous years have returned to their homes but are yet to move to safer places despite plans of opening the Lagdo dam by Cameroonian authorities regardless of several appeals made by the state government.
At Genabe, a suburb of Makurdi; Rice Mill, Wurukum and Wadata communities all in Makurdi which are some of the flood-prone areas, residents are yet to vacate.
Some of the residents in flood-prone areas in Makurdi who spoke with our correspondent complained that life in the camps when they were there was not pleasant to them and as such, they called on the government to intensity efforts on completing drainages they had started to enable them stay put in their homes instead of going to camps to congest themselves in one room in this era of frequent disease outbreaks.
In an interview with one of the opinion leaders at Genabe who does not want his name in print, he said they have tried in their own way to sensitise residents but most of them lamented that the economic realities of today have made it difficult for them to even pack to safer places. Instead, he pleaded with the government to provide vehicles to assist them.
“We are appealing for help from the government because the subsidy removal has taken a toll on our lives. We are feeding from hand-to-mouth and asking us to leave our homes to other places is easier said than done. Where is the transport to move, if we are being realistic, especially now that children are resuming back to school?
“We are calling on the Governor Alia-led administration to look into the issue of dredging of River Benue seriously and as well ensure that the contractors handling the construction of drainages do a solid work for free flow of water. This will go a long way in cushioning the effect of floods in the state,” he stated.
A victim at Logo 1 who simply identified himself as Agber said his house collapsed during the 2022 flood and all his house appliances including goods in his wife’s shop were washed away. He told our correspondent that they have managed to rebuild part of the house and pack in, but based on the recent information about the opening of the Lagdo Dam again, he asked his wife and their four children to move and stay with his elder sister at the Makurdi International Market side, to avoid ‘had I known’
However the Benue State government has designated public schools in 22 local government areas of the state as camps for persons expected to be affected by flood in the state.
Two Geidam Communities Now In New Settlements, One Other Awaits Relocation
Communities of Awa-Kurari and Shettimari in Geidam local government area of Yobe State sacked by the 2022 flood disaster have left their ancestral home and settlement to some new identified locations at highlands, the councilor representing Shame-Kura/Dilawa ward Hon Ibrahim Mohammed has said.
The three communities of Kirikasamma, Awa-Kurari, Shettimari all in Geidam local government area, among many others, lost their settlements to flooding in 2022 while many roads and bridges linking several communities were washed away.
Mohammed while speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday said out of the three communities displaced by the last year’s flood in Shame-Kura/Dilawa ward, only Kirikasamma community camped at Kalgeri near Geidam could not return to their identified land.
He said after a series of engagements with government officials, the victims of the three communities agreed that their former settlements were no longer safe, hence they should be relocated.
“As I am talking with you, the Kirikasamma community of Geidam local government displaced by flood in 2022 are still in quarters contracted by the administration of Hon Mai Mala Buni near Geidam given to them by the actual owners of the houses.
“Government has so far identified a new and safer place for them to relocate to but yet to complete the compensation formalities and as such they are still there though they’re eager to go back to their area.
“For the people of Awa-Kurari, Shettimari, the land identified belongs to the ward head and the chief Imam respectively. The two community leaders decided to allow people to go and reside pending the completion of other formalities,” Mohammed said.
45 Flood Victims IDP Camps In Jigawa Closed
Jigawa is one of the states of the federation experiencing perennial flooding over decades. In 2022, the flood/ rainstorm disaster killed over 120 people and displaced over 200,000.
During the period of the devastating flood, over 42 IDP camps were established by the state government at different locations while many interventions were provided to avoid disease outbreaks and also to ease the difficulties faced by the victims.
Due to the gravity of the damage caused by the disaster, the state government invited various donor partners, wealthy people and other philanthropists to come to the aid of the victims.
The state government went to the extent of launching appeal funds for the victims during which over N1 billion was realised, while a committee under the chairmanship of the Emir of Hadejia, Dr Abubakar Maje was set up and saddled with responsibilities of distributing the money and other relief materials to the victims.
The state had engaged the service of experts, KWT and AVECO DE BONDT of Netherlands for finding ‘lasting solutions to the problems, while an embankment was built at different flood-prone areas. River Hadejia was also dredged as a short term measure to control the flood.
Presently, all the IDP camps have been closed and most of the victims have gone back to their homes.
Karnaya village was one of the communities completely displaced by the flood in 2022 but currently, all the victims have returned to their homes after rebuilding them according to their abilities.
Ibrahim Sulaiman, one of the flood victims in Karnaya village of Dutse local government area of the state narrated that, “yes we received some assistance from government and other philanthropists but it was very little compared to what we lost.
“We are all back to our homes after rebuilding them according to what we could afford. Some of us sold our farmlands and other assets while some got assistance from their friends and brothers to rebuild their houses.
“Yes, we heard on the media that some parts of the country will experience flood in the coming weeks but we don’t think Jigawa is among as no any official announcement with regards to the alarm raised by NIMET,” Ibrahim stated
In Miga town of Miga local government, the two IDP camps established for the flood victims in 2022 were closed since January this year.
Alhaji Sani Uba was one of the flood victims whose house and farmland were destroyed by the flood. He revealed that, though for some decades now they have been having floods in the area, that of 2022 was very devastating.
He said about six people lost their lives in the town as a result of building collapse caused by the flood, while hundreds of people were displaced as their houses were damaged while some became unsafe for habitation.
“Many of us relocated to the IDP camps at the peak of the disaster; when the water subsided, we got back to our houses. Many of us did temporary works on the houses while some made complete renovation.
“But the assistance we received from the committee was not even enough to buy four bags of cement; so everybody did it his own way.
“For this year, we are not expecting any flood if you look at the volume of rainfall this season, though the season is not yet over. Moreover, the temporary embankment erected around our town will give us protection except that of our farmlands where nothing can stop the flooding if it occurred,” Uba declared
According to officials from the State Emergency Management Agency, for this year, they are not anticipating devastating floods like last year. Despite the alarm raised by NIMET of possible flooding, Jigawa is not among the flood-prone states this year according to the weather forecast.
Notwithstanding that the rainfall has been short in Borno in the 2023 rainy season, with prayers offered by both Muslims and Christians in the state for rainfall, the government recalled the recovering of 15 corpses last year from a flooded Ngadabul River in Maiduguri and has taken adequate measures against flooding especially, with Cameroon’s plans to release water from the Lagdo dam.
According to the director, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Dr Barkindo Mohammed Saidu, the state government has warned citizens living in flood-prone communities against erecting structures there and that the government followed it up by directing the State Geographic Information Services (BOGIS) to monitor and ensure that the warning was adhered to.
Dr Saidu further said that the government relocated all the citizens living around the flood prone communities and warned citizens against indiscriminate dumping of refuse as well as felling of trees since roots of the trees help in controlling flood.
The SEMA DG added that the Agency in collaboration with the Borno State Environmental Protection Agency (BOSEPA) encouraged citizens to be clearing water passages to avert stagnation of water in addition to joint sensitisation of the population on dangers of building on water channels.
In Sokoto State, Goronyo local government area is the worst area prone to incessant flooding. To residents of the area, flooding is a yearly occurrence and, except where the flood is overbearing, the people hardly relocate.
The people of Kwawaso village under Goronyo local government council are one of the worst-hit villages of flood devastation in the local government but, immediately the flood subsides, the people returned to their village.
Asked whether the people are not afraid of being swept away by flood, the Hakimi of Goronyo, Alhaji Ibrahim Goronyo, answered thus, “this has always been the situation since time immemorial, we were born here; this is our ancestral land and we have no other place to call our own.
“Whenever it is the rainy season and we see signs of impending flood, the next thing we do is to temporarily halt farming and relocate to safer places.
“After the flood, we return to repair what must have been damaged or destroyed and life goes on.”
Elderly Alhaji Goronyo, confirmed that government officials do come around and inform them of impending flood either from heavy rainfall when the Goronyo dam usually overshoots its banks or when water will be released from Cameroon’s Lagdo dam.
“On such occasions, we relocate temporarily and in the event of damages, the state government, through SEMA, comes to our aid with relief and building materials,” he said.
Meanwhile, flood prone-communities in Sokoto State, particularly those living close to riverine areas predicted to be possibly affected by this year’s 2023 flood are advised to heed to the expert’s early warning in the state.
The advice was handed over by the director Relief and Rehabilitation, Sokoto Emergency Management Agency (SEMA,) Malam Mustapha Umar.
Malam Mustapha Umar categorically stated that “Flood is real, and there is no dead hero; therefore, there is need for the communities living around the riverine areas as a matter of urgency to immediately vacate for them to be safe and protected from any forms of flood disaster.”
Kogi Residents Recount Loses Amidst Flood Alerts
Residents of Kogi State have said that they are yet to recover from the agony of the 2022 flood that left several people dead and countless people rendered homeless.
Although it does not appear that they are in any way preparing for accomodations in other locations, others who see their houses as “ancestral homes” claimed they can not desert their houses because of flood. Affected communities have taken it upon themselves to rebuild and reconstruct their homes while others that couldn’t afford it deserted the rubbles to find other means of habitation.
When LEADERSHIP Sunday visited Adankolo, Ganaja and some parts of Igu Kingdom, their words were found to be the same as they attested to the fact that little or no support came from the government to them. While some claimed that the relief materials that were sent from the Kogi state government were handed over to loyalists of the ruling party, others asserted that the said relief materials were given to people that were not affected by the flood.
A 65-year -old Nana Hawa narrated how people from Adankolo New layout, which is an upland, came to Adankolo Estate and Hausa Street to hijack relief materials that were meant for the flood victims.