From Rose Ejembi and Scholastica Onyeka, Makurdi
The Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has appealed to the federal government to dredge the river Benue to mitigate the flood ravaging Benue communities.
The Government made this call while speaking to newsmen after he went around flood-affected communities in Makurdi and its environs.
He charged members of the national assembly to make a case for Benue state saying “The challenge we have about the release of the water from the Ladgo dam is as a result of the shallow river. River Benue and river Katsina-Ala are filled with sand.
“I’m aware that the government of Umar Musa Yar’ Adua gave the contract for the dredging of the river and I’m surprised that until today nothing has been done and nobody is talking about it, The contractor who collected the money is not questioned or brought to book and they are allowing our people to be suffering year in year out.
“This same flood happened to us in 2012 and 10 years after, we are seeing this. It means that there is a likelihood that 10 years after, 2032, we may be having a repeat of this magnitude of flood.
“As someone who is affected directly, I will on this day of independence commiserate with my people spanning from Katsina Ala, Buruku, Guma, Makurdi, Agatu and several other communities affected by flood and appeal to members of the Benue state House of Representatives to take steps to address the matter by finding out the status of the contract and why the company has not executed it.”
Ortom insisted that the only way the flood can be stopped was to create enabling environment for the water to flow along the river.
He said “If that contract can be terminated and another one awarded, that will help us. So through you, we are begging the federal government to intervene in this matter and dredge river Benue.”
He noted with pain that over 160, 000 persons are now IDPs in various places in a state that has been ravaged by insecurity activities orchestrated by Fulani herdsmen.
Describing it as another big challenge, Governor Ortom called on good-spirited individuals, humanitarians and philanthropists to come to the help of the IDPs in Benue.
He noted that the flood was no respecter of persons saying “even me who is the Governor, the flood did not fear me, my farms, my houses are under the water so we take steps to address it.
He appealed to those who deserted their homes to fumigate them when they are returning to prevent being harmed by dangerous reptiles.
The Executive Secretary of State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Emmanuel Shior, informed that upon the directive and mobilization by the state government, SEMA has distributed relief materials to over 24 communities affected by the flood.
He noted that while over 116,084 have been profiled, more people are being displaced following the rise in the water level.
According to him, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has started sending relief items to support states to enable them to reach out to the affected persons.