Nigerian flood has prompted a response from President Jonathan who pledged to build more dams. Nigeria is Africa's most populous state., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Jonathan visits flood victims, pledges more dams
Friday, 12 October 2012 00:00 From Madu Onuorah, Adamu Abuh, Terhemba Daka (Abuja) and Ralph Omololu Agbana (Lokoja) News
LOKOJA, Kogi State capital, was President Goodluck Jonathan’s first port of call yesterday when he began a nation-wide tour of flood-devastated areas.
At the confluence town, the President assured that government was doing everything possible to cushion the impact of the disaster and forestall future threats.
He added that the level of flooding this year would have been more than what was experienced in the past had existing dams not been constructed, adding that more of such facilities would be provided.
Also, the President yesterday inaugurated the National Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation vowing that his government would do everything to cushion the pain of the flood victims.
Meanwhile, the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) has expressed fears that monies to be raised by the National Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation could be stolen if adequate measures were not taken.
In the same vein, the Minister of Works, Mike Onolomemen, has been summoned by the House of Representatives to explain efforts of the ministry at addressing the challenges occasioned by diversion along the Lokoja-Abuja highway. The diversion was made in the wake of recent flooding on the road.
President Jonathan, accompanied by Minister of Environment, Hadiza Mailafia, members of Committees on Ecological Matters from the two chambers of the National Assembly and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Director General, Sani Sidi, arrived at Lokoja exactly 11.00 a.m. in a helicopter and was received by Governor Idris Wada at the Chari Maigumeri Army Barracks.
The visitors joined by Wada later embarked on air surveillance to worst affected areas in Kogi East Senatorial Districts, Idah and Ibaji.
Back to the state capital, Jonathan dressed in simple long sleeves shirt and a fez cap, and the entourage drove to Saint Luke’s Primary School, Adankolo, Lokoja, where he addressed hundreds of displaced persons at about 12.20 p.m. The president went round among the crowd of displaced persons and asked for babies delivered in the camp to be brought forward to him. He pacified their mothers and assured them that his wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, would meet with the babies and their families soon.
According to him, “flood is a natural disaster. We are lucky that flood that used to be almost every year is no longer that way because of the dams we have constructed. Government will now see how we can build more dams that will reduce these floods”.
He commended those who were directly affected for their endurance and assured them that even if government may not be able to solve all their problems, it would take care of their immediate needs, while exploring measures to find a lasting solution to flooding in the country.
Against the backdrop of reports that no fewer than six farmers had committed suicide in the state after obtaining loans to set up farms only for those farms and crops to be washed away in the wake of the flooding, the President admonished others in similar situations not to consider that option as efforts were aground to help them get back on their feet.
Nigerians, Jonathan said, should be assured that “the present administration will do everything possible to ameliorate the impact of this devastating flood on our people. We will do everything to cushion their pain.”
Again expressing his empathy with victims of the flood, Jonathan said his government feels “terribly worried. We feel sad that this ravaging flood is really affecting so many of our people. There are some states that are 50 to 70 per cent, including my state (Bayelsa) under water. This is why in addition to measures we have taken in terms of releasing funds to government agencies and directly to state governments to assist in helping to manage this disaster, we feel compelled to set up this committee to generate funds to assist government in managing these people.”
In a statement signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Emma Eneukwu, the ANPP demanded a water-tight accountability mechanism so that the purpose for setting up the body will not be abused by unpatriotic Nigerians.
The ANPP stated that members of the Committee mandated to raise funds to complement government’s resources for provision of relief to flood victims across the country and the post-impact rehabilitation of affected persons and communities, were persons of proven integrity.
But the party noted that going by the experiences of the past, there was the need to take precautionary measures to avert the pilferage of the funds.
It noted: “Our great party is worried because this requires undiluted application of developmental best practices; and this present PDP government has a doubtful history of adhering to best practices. We are reminded of a similar patriotic and laudable intervention project in the no distant past, which turned out fraudulent to the utmost embarrassment of the nation.”
The House in a resolution on a motion moved by Mohammed Sadiq on the problem of traffic on the Abuja-Lokoja road, also yesterday called on the Ministry of Works to redesign and reconstruct the road against future flooding.
Mohammed had while moving the motion expressed serious concerns over effects of the flooding, and subsequent diversion of the road on commuters and drivers, thus the urgent need for more intervention.
In a show of sympathy, Mainstreet Bank Limited led by its Group Managing Director, Faith Tuedor-Matthews, yesterday donated relief materials to victims of the flood disaster in Delta State.
The donated items include blankets, mattresses, food (cartons of milk, sugar, beverages; bags of rice, garri, beans), detergents, toiletries (soap, antiseptic, toothpaste), treated mosquito nets, etc.
Making the donation to the Delta State Government, Tuedor-Matthews noted that, “Given the enormity of the disaster and destruction of lives and property left in its wake, the bank wishes to identify with the government of the state to assist in ameliorating the plight of victims of the flood disaster.”