1st October, 2022
By Lizzy Okoji
Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to declare Kogi a State of National Disaster, following the ravaging effect of flood in the state and environs.
Bello made the appeal to President Buhari in his Independence Day address on Saturday in Lokoja, stressing that a lasting solution must be proffered to the yearly menace
Bello said that such an emergency declaration would help to unlock the nation’s latent capabilities to respond more aggressively with more men, money and materials to the harrowing situation.
“The President may wish to recall that he made such a declaration in response to the 2018 flooding – and the floods this year are projected to be much worse than anything we saw in 2018.
“Thus, while thanking His Excellency for what the Federal agencies are already doing, I implore him to give us the help our people so desperately need at this time,” Bello said.
Bello said the natural disaster had affected the nine local government areas of the state which were along the Rivers Niger and Benue, namely, Lokoja, Kogi-Koto, Ajaokuta, Ofu, Igalamela-Odolu, Bassa, Idah, Ibaji and Omala.
He also noted that Ibaji LGA was almost 100 per cent under water, while the rest ranged from 30 per cent up and other inland LGAs also had some degree of flooding from smaller rivers and tributaries.
While he acknowledged that the state had a serious and humanitarian tragedy to attend to, the governor assured every person, family and community who had been affected that they were not alone and that help was around the corner.
He stated that even before the flood, his government had activated its early response systems to make sure that succour reached those affected in a timely manner.
He narrated that flooding in Kogi happened annually which unfortunately the people had gotten used to the ritual of devastation followed by inadequate palliatives, if any.
“As a leader, it is clear to me that I must make an attempt to break this vicious cycle, if not for all, then for as many victims as I can and I am making proposals for permanent solutions,” Bello added.
Reeling out the numerous efforts which according to him have yielded varying degrees of success, he revealed that the most common sense and humane option left now is to clear human habitations and businesses from the banks of the Rivers Niger and Benue where possible.
He added that his government would embark on clearing the lowlands along the entire flood-plains in the flood endemic LGAs which would allow the rivers unimpeded flow during their annual flooding.
“In Lokoja, road shoulders along the banks of the River Niger from the entrance of the city in Natako will be widened to establish a sufficient buffer zone between the city and the river.
“Ganaja junction to Ganaja Village road has also been recently re-awarded to a more efficient contractor and we will see to it that when work commences, efforts will be made to raise the road above the water levels mentioned,” he said.
The governor also noted that lowland communities affected by the planned clearance would be relocated to higher grounds and structures which fall into the designated work areas would have to make way.
Bello, however, assured that the government would ensure proper resettlement and rehabilitation of those who would be affected.
He added that despite the huge burdens it would place of the already strained government’s resources would be money well-spent if it brought peace of mind to the people.
He, however, noted that although such decision would have its own effects, but anything was preferable to the annual loss of lives and livelihood while assuring that his administration would continue to work for the wellbeing of the people and posterity in the state. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)