Due to the flood that has left many households and communities homeless, Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare Kogi a national disaster zone.
Bello made the appeal on Saturday during the state government’s 62nd independence anniversary, with a special focus on the flood disaster that has ravaged nine Kogi local government areas.
According to him, the declaration will help to unlock the nation’s capabilities to respond to this perennial disaster more aggressively with resources.
He stated that the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) had previously predicted that the 2022 floods would be more severe than usual, lamenting that the flood had affected Lokoja, Kogi-Koto, Ajaokuta, Ofu, Igalamela-Odolu, Bassa, Idah, Ibaji, and Omala local government areas, which are located along the Rivers Niger and Benue.
The 2022 floods, according to Bello, have been confirmed as Nigeria’s worst flood disaster, surpassing the 2012 and 2018 floods, and his administration has implemented Flood Early Warning Systems (FEWS), with efforts to evacuate victims to safer habitats ongoing.
In the short term, Bello explained that his administration is providing affected individuals and communities with shelter at various Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camps, as well as security, food, medicines, clothing, and cash grants for necessities, while stating that the state government will need to direct efforts toward more sustainable solutions where possible in the long term.
He also asked the National Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Services, Disaster Management, and Social Development for help in mitigating the effects of the flood.
Speaking on the long-term solution to end the perennial flooding, the governor stated that there are a number of common sense and civil engineering solutions to the flooding problem that could result in permanent solutions, noting that his administration has tried some of the solutions with varying degrees of success.
Despite all efforts, he added, the state continues to reap an endless cycle of flood disasters year after 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 the government will begin clearing the lowlands along the entire floodplains in flood-prone local government areas, ensuring that the rivers can flow freely during their annual flooding.
The governor of Kogi promised to widen the road shoulders along the banks of the River Niger from the NATACO area in Lokoja to create a sufficient buffer zone between the city and the river.
He also stated that in the process of implementing such long-term measures, affected communities will be relocated to higher ground, and structures that fall within the designated work areas will be demolished.
The governor promised that the government would ensure proper resettlement and rehabilitation for those affected.