Kogi State Government has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to declare Kogi and other states of the federation affected by flood as a state of national disaster.
The flooding has rendered many households and communities homeless across nine local government areas of Kogi state.
The State Governor Yahaya Bello made the appeal in Lokoja on Saturday during the 62 years independence anniversary of Nigeria with special focus on impact of the 2022 flood disaster in the state , mitigation measures and plans for permanent solutions.
The governor said that the declaration will help to unlock the nation’s latent capabilities to respond more aggressively with more men, money and materials to this perennial disaster.
Accordingly, I make a passionate appeal to the Father of the Nation, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR to declare a State of National Disaster due to flooding in Kogi and other similarly affected states.
“The declaration will help to unlock the nation’s latent capabilities to respond more aggressively with more men, money and materials to this 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” he said.
According to him, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) have earlier predicted that the 2022 floods will be heavier than usual , lamenting that the flood has affected Lokoja, Kogi-Koto, Ajaokuta, Ofu, Igalamela-Odolu, Bassa, Idah, Ibaji and Omala local government areas which lie along the Rivers Niger and Benue.
“Ibaji is almost 100 percent under water while the rest range from 30 percent up. Other inland LGAs also have some degree of flooding from smaller rivers and tributaries.
“We therefore have a serious and humanitarian tragedy on our hands, but I wish to assure every person, family and community which has been affected that they are not alone and that help is coming” the assired
He stated that 2022 floods have been confirmed as Nigeria’s worst flood disaster that has surpasses the 2012 and 2018, noting that his administration implemented Flood Early Warning Systems (FEWS) and saying that efforts are ongoing to evacuate victims to safer habitants.
According to him, in the short term government is providing affected persons and communities with shelter at the various Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camps, as well as security, food, medicines, clothing and cash grants for necessities , maintaining that in the long term, the state government will need to gear efforts towards more sustainable solutions where possible.
The Governor solicited assistance from the National Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Services, Disaster Management and Social Development to cushion the effect of the flood.
Speaking on the lasting solution to end the perennial flooding, the governor said
there is a set of common sense and civil engineering solutions to the problem of flooding which could bring permanent solutions, noting that his administration have tried some of the solution with varying degrees of success.
Citing example, Governor Bello stated that his administration in partnership with the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) have constructed about four kilometres of embankments along the River Niger with extensive gully erosion control projects in Ankpa, Ogugu, Ozuri, Lokoja, Dekina and other parts of the State.
He added that despite all the effort the state continue to harvest endless cycle of flood disaster every year, noting 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 assured that government will embark on clearing the lowlands along the entire flood-plains in the flood endemic local government areas, assuring that such effort will allow the rivers unimpeded flow during their annual flooding.
The Governor mentioned that I. Lokoja, he will widen the road shoulders along the banks of the River Niger from the NATACO area in order to establish a sufficient buffer zone between the city and the river.
He also assured that in the process of taking such lasting measures, affected communities will be relocated to higher grounds and structures which fall into the designated work areas will have to give way.
The Governor promised that the government will ensure proper resettlement and rehabilitation of those who will be affected.
Governor Yahaya Bello who stated that the 2022 Independence Day will be observed in a very low key due to some devastating mishaps in the state, felicitated with the people of the state for the sixty two years anniversary of the country.
He revealed that his administration has translated more of its Blueprint into real projects in all sectors, noting that many of projects are already available for use while many others are receiving finishing touches for commissioning before the end of this year.