BY ABDALLAH el_KUREBE,Sokoto
LIKE Tsunami, communities across eleven local government areas in Sokoto state were ravaged by flood resulting in displacement of people, loss of lives, farmlands and properties by people of those communities on different dates beginning from September 9, 2010.
During the Sokoto flood, eight persons were confirmed killed, fifty communities ravaged thereby displacing over 130,000 people in Isa, Goronyo, Wurno, Rabah, Kware, Gwadabawa, Wamakko, Kebbe and Silame local government areas of the state.
Of the fifty villages, 20 were submerged while eight bridges and some state and federal roads were also destroyed. Among these bridges was the Kwalkwalawa, which links Sokoto metropolitan with the University community.
Since then, the Government of Sokoto state played host to many people, including President Goodluck Jonathan, who doubled as PDP presidential aspirant; Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa’i; Minister of State for Works, Chris Ogiemwinyi and that of State, now Minister of Information and Communication, Labaran Maku.
State chief executives, including Niger state governor, Alhaji Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu brought the sum of N5 million; Kogi state, Alhaji Idris Ibrahim brought N25 million and Taraba state government sent a delegation headed by the Emir of Muri, Alhaji Abbas Tafida to donate the sum of N7 million.
At the political circle, presidential aspirants, including Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governors of Kano State and ANPP Presidential candidate, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau; Governor of Kwara state, Dr. Bukola Saraki came to sympathised with the people and government of Sokoto state and in the process, donating relief materials and cash to the victims.
When Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto wailed and winked for rescue at the monumental academic set back, hitherto, trailed the path of its challenges, adding to the list of the Sokoto flood disaster refugees account, it was quite and still beyond it institutional ability and power.
Some students had describe the incident as “An imaginable sting of disaster,” while at the same time, mounting pressure with questions and comments over their fate and plight if the situation was dragged to forthcoming rainy season.
By the singular incident of September 2010, students and lecturers were sacked; the surrounding communities were displaced and farmlands and properties were destroyed. The devastation however, further strangulated the purposeful academic direction of the learning community.
It was a monumental shift from normal activities to devastation and predicated academic preparations, including other transactions in and around the University when the unexpected flood disaster knocked at the doorstep of the institution.
The flood washed away more than the 4km access road with a bridge connecting the university and seven local government areas in Sokoto state, forced commercial activities of some of the people plying the road on daily basis for their businesses.
The collapsed bridge was repaired by the Sokoto state government for temporary use to the University community pending the permanently rehabilitation by the federal government as promised by the President.
Although academic activities have resumed in the University, the delay in providing permanent bridge is exhuming as well as attracting both questions and attention on the state of development towards restoring normalcy in the university.
Pundits fault the President’s commitment to his promise of doing something “as soon as possible,” describing it as political rhetoric, especially when he made the promise in the heat of campaigns build up.
Addressing a press conference, Vice Chancellor of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, UDUS, Professor Riskuwa Arabu Shehu, having followed various channels to draw the attention of the authorities to the impending danger of a repeat flood, he called on the Federal Government to fast tract the award of contract for the reconstruction of the permanent bridge before the rains begin.
Prof. Shehu appealed to the Federal Government to expedite action by constructing a new bridge, which links the University with Sokoto metropolis as well as rehabilitate the road, which is long overdue.
Adding that the situation was worrisome in view of the fact that students and academic staff were disturbed as the rainy season approached, Shehu further stated that the sum of N1.1bn was required for the rehabilitation of the bridge.