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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Flooding: Buhari pledges intervention, 24 dead in Katsina, broken-down vehicles block Abuja-Lokoja Road

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, October 7, 2022, met with the leadership of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum over the reported cases of flood across the country.

Abuja-Lokoja Road
Flooded Abuja-Lokoja Road

The president, who presided over the meeting in the State House, Abuja, encouraged the governors to meet with the Minister of Water Resources to fashion out solutions to the problem.

The meeting was attended by the outgoing Chairman of NGF, Dr Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti; the incoming Interim Chairman, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State; and the Interim Deputy Chairman, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State.

Buhari stated that the call had become imperative in view of the fact that the minister, had “worked hard’’ on dams and water resources in the country.

He said the minister could escalate their conclusions to the Federal Government, to alleviate the plight of the people currently being ravaged by flood in the country.

The governors had told the president that lives had been lost, homes and farmlands washed away in states like Kogi, Yobe, Jigawa, and many others.

They, therefore, asked for federal government’s intervention in terms of special funding.

Buhari said after the engagement with the relevant minister, a report should be sent in, “and we will see what to do.”

Fayemi, who exits office in about nine days, thanked the president for supporting him as Ekiti State’s helmsman, and for the governors collectively.

“You always accorded us due regard. You accommodated us and listened to our pleas.

“You were always there for us when we had challenges, either individually, or collectively. We owe you a debt of gratitude,” the outgoing NGF Chairman said.

Tambuwal said the flooding had created a frightening scenario for food security, “and we need to plan ahead for dry season farming.”

On his part, Bagudu counselled that it was not the time to squeeze credit for the agricultural sector because of the peculiar challenges.

In a related development, 24 persons lost their lives as flood and windstorm affected no fewer than 18, 245 people in Katsina State, according to the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).

The spokesperson of the agency, Mr Umar Muhammad, disclosed this in Katsina on Friday.

Muhammad said that the disasters were recorded in all the 34 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state during the 2022 rainy season.

He said that several other persons sustained various degrees of injury because of the natural disasters.

The agency’s spokesperson also said that 16,625 houses were damaged by the disasters.

According to him, 1,620 farmlands were also submerged in Kafur, Danja and Ingawa LGAs.

He said that properties and farm produce estimated to cost millions of naira were destroyed as a result of the disasters.

Mohammed said that the agency had already assessed the affected houses and farmlands in order to assist the victims.

He added that the state government would soon start distribution of relief assistance to the victims.

The spokesperson said that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), would also soon distribute relief materials to the affected persons.

Similarly, the Abuja-Lokoja highway on Friday got blocked for motorists as two articulated vehicles broke down adjacent to each other.

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has directed motorists to avoid the road for alternative routes not to get into the built-up gridlock around Koton-Karfe, Kogi Local Government Area.

Kogi Corps Commander, Stephen Dawulung, announced this while speaking at Koton-Karfe at the scene of the blockage.

Dawulung advised motorists to take alternative routes such as Nasarawa-Loko-Oweto or Lafia- Makurdi-Otukpo ways for those traveling to the South-eastern part of the country or Minna-Mokwa-Jebba route for travellers to South-western part of the country.

“As you can see, we have been overwhelmed and so worried over the flood induced traffic gridlock currently being experienced by motorists, particularly at this Koton Karfe on the Abuja-Lokoja Expressway.

“This traffic initially occurred as a result of the overflow of River Niger resulting in the flooding being experienced in Kogi.

“While that was being controlled, a petroleum tanker broke down in the middle of the flooded road and had narrowed the road leaving only a single lane for movement.

“We thought we were lucky that despite the gridlock, there was still very slow movement of vehicles.

“The development necessitated the filing out of three commands in Kogi to help to control the traffic with the help of other operatives, the military and vigilante.

“But today, another articulated vehicle broke down almost adjacent the broken-down tanker that mechanics tried to repair for more than a week in vein, thereby blocking the entire road.

“Our Towing Truck that was ordered to come and toy the articulated vehicle out of the road got blocked by the gridlock and can’t access the area.

“Can you see the dilemma we are in now and the reason for motorists and commuters to take the alternative routes we are suggesting?” he said.

While sympathising with those already trapped in the gridlock to be bear with the unfortunate situation, Dawulung advised motorists to take the alternative routes to get their destinations.

By Ismaila Chafe, Zubairu Idris and Thompson Yamput

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