By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja.
Like the alarm bells tolling across the nation for mitigating measures to check the after effects of flooding in some States, the Senate has raised fears that victims of last weekend’s flood disasters in some parts of the country “are presently at risk of contracting water-borne diseases such as cholera and even malaria as a result of the devastation caused by the flood to their sanitation and immediate surroundings”.
It therefore asked the Executive to assist the affected states with immediate repair and reinforcement of damaged infrastructure that could withstand future rainfall and resettle all victims of the disaster.
More than 15 persons were feared killed in Tafa and Suleja Local Government Areas of Niger State after fierce flooding ravaged several homes and farmlands.
Also in Lekki and Victoria Island areas of Lagos, hundreds of residents have been sacked from their homes by flood.
The upper legislative chamber, during plenary further urged the government to send relief materials through the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA to the victims while charging the Nigeria Meteorological Agency, NIMET to intensify its weather forecasts, with emphasis on translating them in local languages of prone areas to flood, thunderstorms and other extreme weather conditions.
These were sequel to a motion sponsored under Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rule on personal explanation by Senator David Umaru (PDP Niger East) on the flood disaster that affected Suleja and Tafa local government areas of Niger State rendering people homeless and leading to loss of lives and properties.
in another statement, Senate spokesman, Aliyu Sabi Abdulahi, (APC Niger North), said the recent field visit of the Ag. President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to the site of the collapsed bridge at Tatabu on the Mokwa- Jebba Road is a vindication of the position of the National Assembly on the need for a balanced budget that cater for all sections of Nigeria.
In a statement, he said further: “While it is highly commendable that the Ag. President visited the collapsed segment of the road along with the Governor of Niger State, His Excellency,Abubakar Sadiq Sani Bello, the Etsu Nupe, His Royal Highness Yahaya Abubakar and the Hon. Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), it is important to re-echo that the situation of Federal roads in Niger State calls for a declaration of state of Emergency on these roads in the state. The collapse of a segment of the road at Tatabu is just a tip of the iceberg.
“As at date, there are additional four collapsed bridges and road sections at Gidan Mai Village on Mokwa – Bokani- Makera road; Sahon Rami and Baban Rami on Makera –Kontagora road and at Tungan Kade on Ibeto – Auna – Kainji Dam road.
“A potentially dangerous event waiting to happen are the two colonial-type bridges at Lioji and Gulbin Boka on the Kontagora – Rijau road, which in itself has become travellers’ nightmare and a death trap for those plying the road to Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara States.
“The truth that Nigerians must appreciate is that legislators are the representatives of the various Federal Constituencies and Senatorial Districts and are very much familiar with the state of affairs in these areas. This places them on a better position to know the level of decay and magnitude of intervention required on Federal Government Infrastructure within their respective domains.
“It is within this context that the constitution empowers them to modulate the various proposals brought by the Executive with a view to creating the needed balance in resource allocation while also helping to avert the kind of calamity at Tatabu on Mokwa- Jebba road among others.
“It is on record that the provision made on this and other roads are not given the required priority attention over the years. Yet, the unfortunate scenario at Tatabu does not select the race, tribe, age, religion or political leaning of commuters and businesses, who are now bearing the pains of the road collapse. For example,trucks carrying economic goods now spend 7 to 10 days to reach Lagos from different parts of the North as they have to pass through another very important but serially neglected and abandoned road which is the New Bussa – Wawa – Kaiama-Kishi-Oyo Federal road that traverses Niger, Kwara and Oyo States.
“To stop further occurrences such as this, efforts must be made to do things in the overall interest of all Nigerians because they are all entitled to freely move across every corners and parts of Nigeria. Bad roads do not select commuters on the basis of any sentiment. We all face the music of “gbagan gbagan” on every bad roadwithout exception.
“A stitch in time saves nine, and will prevent avoidable carnages with loss of precious lives and resources of our citizens.”
Senator Umaru, while presenting the motion, also called on the Executive to embark on emergency intervention measures through the release of funds from ecological funds for construction of drainage system in affected states.
He further urged the government at all levels to take seriously weather forecast and flood predictions by NIMET and accordingly take proactive measures to minimize loss of lives and properties associated with flooding and other natural disasters.
He expressed the Senate’s sympathy with the government of both Niger and Lagos States over the weekend disaster described by observers as “Waters of Sorrow”.
The lawmaker, who observed that despite early weather forecast and warnings; the flood disaster continues to leave serious havoc in its trail, lamented that “the scale of devastation is beyond the capacity of Suleja and Tafa local government councils and indeed Niger State government to handle except the intervention of government”.
Senator Umaru was also worried that “flood disasters in the country appear to have consistently caught victims off guard in spite of early weather forecast, including predictions of floods, thunderstorms and other extreme weather conditions by the NIMET”.
In his contribution on the floor, prior to his statement, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi stressed the need for government to always be proactive in saving human lives and properties rather than the usual ad-hoc arrangement after flood might have wreaked havoc.
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, in his brief remarks, charged the government to assist the affected victims with relief materials and the state governments to repair the damaged infrastructure.