Tens of thousands of vulnerable farmers and residents have been tragically displaced and their livelihoods washed away as a rampaging flood mercilessly struck the Ugbokpo community, the administrative hub of Apa Local Government Area in Benue State. This disaster, which occurred overnight, was made known by Mr. Adanu Isaiah in a telephone conversation with AkweyaTV.
The rains, which began on Monday, September 4th, 2023, left a trail of devastation in their wake. Millions of naira worth of properties lie submerged, buildings have been reduced to rubble, and many individuals have sustained injuries.
Ugbokpo had been a sanctuary for internally displaced people fleeing armed herdsmen in their ancestral homes. Now, another calamity faces it.
Business owners within the inundated community, including cement dealers, mattress sellers, distributors of building materials, rice millers, pepper hawkers, and grain and cereal vendors, are grappling with substantial losses. At various camps, they wear a sombre countenance, lamenting the devastation wrought by the flood.
For the villagers, this recurring nightmare has instilled palpable fear with each new rainy season.
It is crucial that both state and federal governments take immediate action to aid and rescue these impoverished farmers and villagers, addressing the perennial flood-related carnage that plagues this community.
As it stands, the villagers are homeless, without food, and without hope of temporary shelter for the elderly and children. Public institutions such as churches, schools, and mosques have also fallen victim to this catastrophe, compounding the misery.
Without swift intervention, Ugbokpo faces the grim prospect of cholera outbreaks and other airborne diseases, further endangering its inhabitants.
The District Head of Ugbokpo, HRH Chief Adukwu Noah, has appealed to relevant government agencies responsible for emergency relief in natural disasters—floods, fires, erosion, and war—to step in and provide the much-needed assistance. These agencies include the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), and humanitarian and faith-based organisations like the Red Cross Society, Rotary Clubs, churches, and mosques, among others.
Chief Adikwu Noah, accompanied by his council of chiefs, clergymen, and youth, have taken it upon themselves to rescue the vulnerable, children, and elderly amidst the nighttime flood.
Earlier this year, Nigeria’s Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) issued a flood warning for Lagos, Anambra, Adamawa, and 15 other states. These regions are expected to experience heavy rainfall leading to flooding between August and September 2023.
The affected areas include Aboh in Delta State; Ado Ekiti in Ekiti State; Akure, Idanre, Ifon, Iju Itaogbolu, Ogbese, Owo, Owena, and Ondo areas in Ondo State; Ifo, Ota, and Sagamu areas in Ogun State; Lafia and Wamba areas in Nasarawa State; Ikom and Ogoja areas in Cross River State; Jamaare, Misau, Azare, Itas, Kafin Madaki, Kari, Kirfi, Tafawa Balewa, and Katagum areas in Bauchi State.
Additionally, Hadejia and Miga areas in Jigawa State; Ilesa and Osogbo areas in Osun State; Kosubosu area in Kwara State; Anka, Bungudu, and Gusau areas in Zamfara State; Goronyo area in Sokoto State; Serti area in Taraba State; Ito, Katsina-Alan, and Vande-Ikya areas in Benue State; Oguta and Orlu areas in Imo State; and Ugba area in Abia State are also expected to be heavily impacted.
NEMA’s Director of Human Resource Management, Musa Zakari, stressed that rapid climate changes have escalated the frequency of natural disasters, including floods, across the nation. He emphasised the need for a fresh and more efficient approach to disaster management.