Director-General of the NIMET, Dr.Anthony Anuforom
By Aisha Wakaso
True to predictions from the National Meteorological Services (NIMET), the signs that the rains and the accompanying flood and attendant destruction will be much this year is already being witnessed. In Niger State, the rains have wreaked havoc on communities, leading to the death of no fewer than seven persons.
Besides, over 300 people in 149 communities have also been displaced from their homes. The state is currently battling with how to provide accommodation to the hundreds of the internally displaced people.
Director General, Niger State Emergency Management Agency, Alhaji Mohammed Shaba, said at a press briefing in Minna Tuesday that the affected communities were located in 10 out of the 25 local government areas of the state.
According to him, the 10 local government areas affected by flood are, Mokwa, Lavun, Edati, Chanchaga, Shiroro, Borgu, Bida, Bosso, Munya and Wushishi which he said are agrarian communities.
Shaba stated that property lost to the flood, which included farmlands, livestock, houses and household items, is estimated at N500 million.
He said the effect of the flood might cause food scarcity in the country next year as the victims, who are largely farmers, may find it difficult to return to their occupation so soon.
According to him, the agency has so far spent N2 million in the management of the Internally Displaced Camp set up for those affected by the flood and would need about N50 million to cater for them.
Shaba therefore called on the Federal Government to stop politicising activities of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), which he said has been sluggish in responding to emergencies in states.
He said as part of efforts made to resettle the victims of the disaster, makeshift camps have been built upland to enable the residents in the flood affected areas to move to the makeshift camps and go back to their residence after the rainy season.
He said he could not ascertain the number of people in the makeshift camps, adding that people troop in and out of the camps depending on how fast they are able to move back to their homes.
Shaba called on the Niger State government to make available standing funds that could be easily accessed without the agency going through bureaucratic bottlenecks that makes it difficult to access funds.
He explained that it is only with such quick access to funds that the agency could promptly rise up to tackle challenges arising from natural disasters or unforeseen tragedies.
A few of the victims, who do not seem to put all their hopes on the efforts of the agency, may have commenced moves to seek alternative arrangements for their wellbeing.
NIMET had warned that there would be a lot of rain this year, prompting the call to the various tiers of government to prepare for the eventualities that may arise. Several states, including Lagos, Rivers, Delta, Osun and Oyo, have taken measures to clear their drains, free water channels and even destroy structures that could obstruct normal flow of water, all in a bid to ensure that destructive impact of the rains will be far reduced and better managed.
With the second half of the rainy season already being experienced in many parts of the country, fears are imminent that the nation may witness more cases of flash flood that could unleash more ecological disasters on the people.