Kogi Flooding: A Repeat of 2012 Experience?

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 The horrifying experience of residents of Kogi State in 2012 may repeat itself if necessary measures are not put in place to arrest the current flooding which was said to have ravaged no fewer than 200 communities in twelve local government areas of Kogi state. Though there were series of warning by NIMET and other relevant agencies on the likely hood of experiencing flood this year, and urged people living on the water sheds to relocate. Sadly not many heed this timely warning Experts even predicted that the magnitude of the  flood may be more severe than the one experience in 2012 or any other year in the history of Kogi state.
Already, property worth severally millions of naira have been submerged by the ravaging and unstoppable tide of the Rivers Niger and Benue. Incidentally what would have been a source of blessing to the state is now a calamity ‘The confluence of the Rivers  Niger and Benue’ . Houses in Kogi, Lokoja, Ajaokuta Ofu, Ibaji, Idah, Igalamela/Odolu, Omala Bassa  Local Government Areas are not spared with large population in these areas already displaced with severe humanitarian crisis. The state government had said that the situation is already beyond the capacity of the state and called on the federal government to come to their aid. Some state owned infrastructures like schools, court buildings among others have been submerged. Some may have to be relocated completely to avoid another experience. This no doubt would pose additional expenditure on the already lean resources of the state government.
Speaking during a visit to one of the court buildings affected by the flooding, the Chief Judge of Kogi State , Justice Nasir Ajanah  said the submerged Koton-Karfe High Court complex would have to be relocated to avoid the perennial flooding and the attendant challenges in administration of justice.
He said the relocation was the only viable alternative to arrest the perennial breaks in the administration of criminal justice in the area.
“The busiest prison yard in the state is located is this town. So, it is important that we relocate the court from here to another location within the town.That is the most important thing to do now because this is a very busy place”, he said.
Ajanah said the cost of putting up a new complex for the High Court and the Chief Magistrate Court in Koton-Karfe would be included in the state supplementary budget and hoped that it would be approved and released.
At the palace of the Ohimege of Koton-Karfe, Alhaji Abdulrazaq Isah-Koto, the Chief Judge reiterated the need to relocate the court and appealed to the traditional ruler to allocate another land for the construction of a new complex.
He said that it was the community that allocated the land for the submerged complex without knowing that the area was prone to flood.
Responding, the paramount ruler expressed the community’s regrets over the unfortunate hiccups arising from the natural disaster and promised that land would be sought and allocated within the next one week.
The Registrar of the Court,  Mr Aliyu Musa, while speaking with newsmen on the matter said the staff resumed work Monday Morning, September 3, to meet a flooded complex.
Musa said though the flood had been a recurring perennial phenomenon from 2012, weakening the seven-year old structure on yea basis, this year’s onslaught was higher and more devastating.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has expressed fear over the possibility of a repeat of the 2012 flood disaster in Kogi State when the River Niger overflowed it’s banks and many residents of Kogi State were rendered homeless.
The devastating effect of the 2012 flood disaster took over the major high ways causing many travellers to be stranded in Lokoja for days.
NMA’S director of planning, research and forecasting Mr. Vincent Owan expressed the fear in Lokoja recently  when they visited the State to assess the extent of the impending disaster for further action to curtail the menace.
Owan advised residents living in the flood Plains to immediately move to the upland areas or to the State Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) hostel at the Flood estate built by the previous Government of former Governor Idris Wada.
According to him, “My first impression is that the flood situation is quite devastating for the fact that all the indices that manifested in the 2012 flood disaster are here with us today except for the release of water from the Lagdo dam. “Most of the people that have been affected by the flood today have been relocated to higher grounds particularly the IDP hostels at the former Governor Wada flood Housing estate.
He said It is a situation he needs to advice NEMA management of early intervention.
“We are going to collaborate extensively with the Kogi State Government to ensure that displaced persons are well catered for. I have communicated with the Director General of NEMA, very shortly you will feel the presence of the agency in the State.
The State Commissioner of Enviroment Sanusi Yahaya said the water level was not receding as  it keeps rising.
“We are appealling to people in the flood proned areas to move to higher grounds immediately because we don’t know when the water from the lagdo Dam would be released. When it is released the situation  may be worse than the 2012 flood disaster.
He warned residents of the danger of any possible leakage of electric current which may lead to electrocution as current in water can kill instantly.
The executive Secretary of the Kogi State Emergency Management Agency Alhasan  Ayegba said the water level at the moment is 10.30 meters which has exceeded the normal level.
He said more than 45000 persons have already been displaced and are being camped at the various IDP camps in the State.
Ayegba said the situation in Ibaji Local Government is worse as they are no high grands in the area so they have been advised to the IDP camp in Idah. may be worse than 2012 experience.
In the same vein, Governor Yahaya Bello has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to pay more than the usual attention to the flood ravaging Kogi state.  This was at the Presidential Villa,  Abuja recently  when he visited the President. The Governor also appealed to the President to cause more intervention on the deplorable state of Federal Roads in Kogi State as they now require more than cosmetic palliatives.
Only recently, Yahaya Bello  called on the Federal Government to do more in collaboration with the State to ameliorate the discomfort being experienced by citizens of Kogi State who have been affected by flood.
Governor Bello made the call at a press conference held on Thursday, September 13, 2018 during which he appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to assist the state government’s effort at containing the natural disaster which had submerged 200 communities across 10 Local Government Areas of the state. Expressing deep sympathy for victims of his flood who have been displaced from their homes and lands, he emphasized that “as painful as this is, we are consoled by the fact that it is temporary”. Governor Bello appealed to those who are  yet to move to do so in order to ensure safety of lives.
According to the Governor, the State Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources as well as the State Emergency Management Agency have been on top of their game and he commended their “proactive efforts at ensuring the effects of the situation are minimized”.
The Governor had earlier visited the Koton Karfe IDP Camp 1 and while there, two women who had been in labor were delivered of their respective babies. The Governor commended the joint efforts of the State Ministry of Health and Medical Associations for setting up clinics at various IDP Camps to attend to the health needs of residents.
Governor Bello also commended the media, other institutions and individuals who have been involved in sensitisizing members of the public on the need for residents in flood prone areas to move upland especially as water level continues to rise,  reiterating that the first priority is to stay alive even as he recognizes that people have a strong attachment to ancestral land and homes.
He assured victims that government will do everything within its means and in collaboration with the federal government and relevant non governmental organizations to make the experience less painful for them.
The Governor frowned at those he said are trying to cash in on the unfortunate situation to exploit victims calling their action ‘despicable’ and urged them to desist or risk facing the wrath of the Law. He appealed that as tempting as it might be to make money off the unfortunate incident, victims of this misfortune should be empathized with rather than exploited.
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