Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare Kogi a national disaster zone following the flooding that has rendered many households and communities homeless.
Bello made the appeal on Saturday during the 62nd independence anniversary with the state government’s special focus on the flood disaster that has ravaged nine local government areas of Kogi.
According to him, the declaration will help to unlock the nation’s capabilities to respond more aggressively with resources to this perennial disaster.
He stated that 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.
The 2022 floods, Bello added, have been confirmed as Nigeria’s worst flood disaster that has surpassed the 2012 and 2018, stressing that his administration implemented Flood Early Warning Systems (FEWS) with efforts ongoing to evacuate victims to safer habitats.
In the short term, Bello explained that his administration 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.
He equally 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 has tried some of the solutions with varying degrees of success.
He added that despite all the efforts, the state continues to harvest an endless cycle of flood disasters 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 floodplains in the flood-endemic local government areas, assuring that such effort will allow the rivers unimpeded flow during their annual flooding.
The Kogi governor pledged to widen the road shoulders along the banks of the River Niger from the NATACO area in Lokoja 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.