■ Buhari speaks on Hadejia flood
In Niger State, community people are crying out to the government for help over ravaging flood that has overtaken and submerged 150 villages, and killed some persons.
They are not alone in the cry as top state government officials, including the state chief executive, have joined in. The people are pleading with the state government to come to their aid.
The state government, in turn, is pleading with the Federal Government and international community to help in resetting the people.
According to the community people, living has become unbearable for them, as some have lost homes; food items and farmlands have been washed away; while many sleep and taking refuge on the roads, without food or potable drinking water.
The story is the same in many other states.
On Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed sympathy for the victims of the Hadejia floods in Jigawa State which, reports say, destroyed over 100,000 hectares of rice farms in Jigawa State, according to a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Garba Shehu.
Reacting to the tragedy that claimed lives and caused massive destruction to rice farms, President Buhari said that “this level of destruction as a result of a natural disaster is unprecedented and devastating.”
According to the President, “this destruction to farmlands is particularly worrisome because it comes at a time my government is vigorously pursuing efforts to boost local rice production and end importation of the commodity.”
He noted that “since agriculture is the largest employer of labour and a major source of income for most ordinary Nigerians, the destruction of rice farms in Jigawa State is bad news not only for the victims, but also for the government policy of achieving food sufficiency and food security in the country.”
The President extended his sympathies to the victims and assured them that government would not abandon them.
Niger Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, is pained that at least 150 villages in his domain have been submerged by floodwater.
He told journalists in Minna that 20 out of 25 local governments have been affected.
Bello blamed the flooding on heavy rains, and the opening of the spillway gates of the Kainji, Shiroro, and Jebba dams, noting that Kainji alone spilled over 6000 metric litres of water every second at a time.
According to him, the flood has washed away the N80 billion investment of Sunti Sugar Company, making hundreds of workers and farmers there jobless.
He disclosed that four separate committees came up with number of affected villages.
“Some people are reported to have died as a result of the incidents. And we have been crying out but no one appears to be listening to us.”
“This is beyond our capacity. We call for intervention from the federal government and International Agencies. We suggest the establishment of “Special Intervention Fund” to support the state in addition to asking the federal government to make the Hydro Power Producing Areas Development Commission a reality.
“I have already started consulting the governors of Kwara, Kebbi, and Kogi States on how to ensure the immediate takeoff of the Commission.”
Meanwhile, the Flood First-hand Information Committee set up by him has visited communities submerged by flood in Lavun Local Government Area to ascertain the extent of the destruction.
The delegation led by the Chairman, Engineer Ibrahim Mohammed Panti, who is also the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, while assessing the ravaged communities, said they were there to get firsthand information on the level of damages with a view to providing a lasting solution to the perennial flooding affecting communities in the state, as well as see how the government will provide succour in form of relief materials.
The affected communities in the locality are over 30 with some totally cut off from each other.
Some of the communities the committee visited included Sachi and Egagi.
Engineer Panti said that flooding is a natural disaster but could be avoided if people heed flood alerts given by relevant authorities regularly.
He said the surest remedy was to resettle the communities that were living on water courses, though he acknowledged the difficulty of the task. He hoped that the people will understand that the relocation it is for their good.
The Deputy Speaker and Member representing Lavun Constituency in the State House of Assembly, Jibrin Ndagi Baba, said flooding in the area happens annually, adding that as the government is doing its best to provide them with relief materials, the relevant agencies will continue to sensitise the people on the need to leave the flood plains.
The Deputy Speaker explained that the flood victims were yet to be provided with relief materials because the areas were still waterlogged.
The lawmaker said concerted efforts will be made by the State and National legislators representing the people of the state for the actualisation of the Hydro-Electric Power Producing Area Development Commission(HYPADEC) because the commission will go a long way in addressing some of the issues related to flooding.
He assured that irrigation farming would be encouraged through the provision of implements to the farmers of affected areas.
The Director-General (DG), Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA) Ahmed Ibrahim Inga said that the flood has overwhelmed them, adding that resettling the communities is the permanent solution to the perennial flooding in the areas.
He, however, noted that resettlement is a capital intensive project and called for support from the Federal Government and International Community.