Some communities along the bank of the River Niger in Kwara State, are currently pressing for urgent relocation as flood is threatening to sack them.
Communities calling for relocation in the state are Lafiagi, Patigi, Jebba, among others.
The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NiHSA) listed Kwara, Niger, Kebbi, Kogi, Anambra, Delta and Bayelsa states as the major hot spots of the river bank and advised them to make preparations to relocate people.
Leading the agitation for the relocation in Kwara is the Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD).
They want to be relocated from the floodplains, to a safer and higher grounds. This is coming as the River Niger is said to be rising with the likelihood of flooding.
Dr. Alagbonsi Abdullateef, coordinator of the Kwara state community group who appreciated the state government for providing early warning system, however, challenged it to leave up to its full expectations.
He said the government’s statement was insufficient towards addressing the current issue as, it has failed to ensure strict compliance as she claimed was not disclosed in her statement: “is it by enforcing the communities’ relocation or by facilitating it?” he queried.
He stated that there is no clear indication and plan on how the government wishes to relocate the people in those affected communities, as it is too “complacent of any responsible government to just give danger alert without discussing the future of such important communities and phenomenon”.
The group further sought to know the government’s “preparedness and mitigation plans”, which will give them ideas of the mechanisms she has in place in case of imminent disaster.
ENetSuD is of the opinion that river flooding and displacement of residents are supposed to have been a forgotten story in Kwara and Nigeria at large, considering the huge amount of ecological funds that Federal government has been allocating in the past and in recent times.
“Corruption that surrounds the utilisation of this fund (which needs to be thoroughly investigated) could be the major reason these funds have not significantly solved the National ecological problem.
“The public may wish to be reminded of flooding incidences that occurred about 2 months ago across many parts of Ilorin, including Okekere, Oloje, Ode Adana, Okelele, Dada area, Aduralere, Alagbado, Amilegbe, Akerebiata, Kuntu-Oja road, Harmony estate, Mubo street, and many other communities in Kwara state where thousands of people were displaced and properties were destroyed.
“We attributed the flooding in Kwara state to negligence on the part of Kwara state government due to non-implementation of the Kwara state master plan for environmental management, a view that was corroborated by the press statement of a former Kwara State Commissioner on Environment and Tourism, Dr. Bola Olaosebikan.
“Instead of joining hands with the state government to provide a lasting solution, the senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial District and President of the Nigeria Senate (Dr. Bukola Saraki) was reportedly distributing stipends as relieve materials for the victims, a step that could not forestall future reoccurrence of this menace”, the group lamented.
They urged the Kwara state government to call for a local meeting with the concerned communities and visit the sites for strong preparedness and contingency plans in the event of the disaster.
The government was asked to also make adequate arrangement and take full responsibility for the relocation of residents in the affected riverine communities, as this natural disaster (river flooding) is not their making.