Niger State: Rain of tears rages in Minna
When it did not fall at the appropriate time, both Christians and Muslims headed for both their Churches and Mosques seeking the face of God. Hope was almost lost for the rains but it eventually came.
The prayers were eventually answered. The rains started normally as it was in the past except for the warning by National Meteorological Agency (NIMA). On the likelihood of imminent flooding in most parts of the country this year.
In the past years, flooding had been limited to communities along Rivers Niger and Kaduna especially those living downstream of Jebba, Kanji and Shiroro. However, the flooding of this year extended to other communities in most parts of the state including Chanchaga, Bosso, Munya, Shiroro, Borgu, Wushishi, Mokwa, Bida Edati and Lapai.
Besides the human lives lost, properties worth millions of naira were lost including animals and farm produce.
As at last week, 49 lives have been lost to the flood, 117 communities submerged with no fewer than 663,000 people displaced.
The heavy rainfall was complemented by excess water released from the three hydro-electricity Dams of Shiroro, Jebba and Kainji in the past few weeks.
Most of the affected communities are now accessed through canoes as almost all the access roads used in the past have been washed away.
In Minna, the state capital, despite the multimillion naira drainage system across the city, flood also sacked some of the communities leaving four people dead.
More devastating was a family who lost two children Bashir 12yrs and Mustapha, (10yrs) died when they slipped into a flowing drainage in front of the Bahago Plaza, Tunga area during a downpour.
Legal Adviser to the leading opposition party in the state. Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Barrister Joseph Kolo also died mysteriously during a downpour in Minna. Though he was not washed away by flood, he was smashed right in his car while waiting in front of the gate to his friend’s house for the rains to subside as a big tree gave way to the rainstorm and fell right on his car and smashed him right in his car. He died instantly.
Also in Bosso local government area, the people of Gwaibaitas family of Gungel Village was thrown into mourning as two members of the family were washed away by flood after a downpour. The corpses of the deceased were later recovered kilometers away from their area the next day.
Similarly, Zungeru in Wushishi local government area of the state also had its own bitter experience of this years flooding. Besides, farmlands were washed away, two Fulani herdsmen were also washed away with their cows.
Worse hit were Mokwa and Lapai local government areas of the state where lives and farm produce were lost.
Mostly affected were Aza, Muregi, Zdagu, Egagi, Zdagu, Ketso Kpashafu and Lenfakus, all in Mokwa local government area of the state.
In Lapai local government, communities submerged were Eshiu, Kpataku, Dere, Egba, Reba, Achiba, Muye-Gbako, Tsakanabi, Ebwa and they want to be relocated at Kolu in Egba Junction in Bina area.
Others are Egya and Sokun who want to be relocated in Nambata-Ebege area, Pelle, Rigido, Edda, Gbami who want to be resettled at Puzhi area while Yawa, Yambabu, Koki, Elegi and Mumbu communities want to be relocated at Madalla area.
Workers at a car washing centre in Minna, the state capital also watched helplessly when four cars brought for washing were submerged by the torrential rainfall just as valuable properties left in the vehicles were either damaged or washed away in the presence of the vehicle owners.
In an interview with Saturday Vanguard, Director General, Niger state Emergency Management Agency, (NSEMA) Malam Mohammed Shaba confirmed that almost 665,000 people have been displaced in 117 communities in the state.
He said already, government has opened six camps across the state adding that the Agency needs about N50m to cater for those affected.
He admitted that residents in most of the affected areas contributed to the flooding as houses were built on the water ways thereby affecting the free flow of water.
Malam Shaba also lamented the attitude of residents in Minna who dump refuse indiscriminately in the drainages.
Already, Niger state government has released N20m for the resettlement of those displaced and for provision of relief materials.
Councilor representing Muye Egba ward in Lapai local government area, Malam Abdullahi Wakili told Saturday Vanguard that though they were alerted on the impending flood, they never knew it would be as devastating.
“Last year, a similar prediction was made but since it did not happen, we thought that of this year will not be of a high magnitude as we are witnessing. Infact, the alert of this year even came after the damage had been done”, the councilor remarked.
According to him, “the extent of flood this year has never been witnessed before. infact, we used to have minimum of rain water with overflowing of water to some extent but this one is the first of its kind. The first downpour washed away most farm lands with houses destroyed and then came excess discharge of water from the Shiroro, Kanji and Jebba Dams.
Chairman, Lapai local government area, Alhaji Isah Saidu has led officials of the Council to the affected areas to commiserate with the affected people and gave them cash and other relief materials.
THREAT TO FOOD SECURITY
Managing Director, Upper Niger River Basin Development Authority, Professor Paul Marley has raised an alarm over the flooding witnessed across the country in the past few weeks saying, it is a threat to the food security programme of the federal government.
Speaking in an interview, the MD called on the government and Nigerians to brace up for possible high prices of foodstuff next year.
According to him, “except for rice that is highly tolerant of water, other cereals like maize, Millet e.t.c. cannot. Horticulture crops and other food crops in flood affected areas are being lost.
Professor Marley attributed the flooding especially in the northern part of the country to the Flouting of town planning regulations and indiscriminate dumping of refuse along water ways.
He called on government to sanction those flouting town planning laws.
According to him,” the quality of building materials have reduced drastically and thus pose a threat for the owners as such houses are pulled down whenever there was little rainfall and this is why town planners should ensure that they carry out inspections from the planning to the roofing of any building to avert frequent collapse of building attributed to any slightest downpour.”