• IDPs narrate ordeals
Solomon Ayado, Lafia
For residents of Nasarawa town in Nasarawa local government area, and the people of Azara community in Awe LGA of Nasarawa state, the notion of ‘showers of blessing’ to them is a falsity.
Also, the fact that rain comes with blessing and goodness, according to them, is half-truth, or simply a figment of mere imagination. To the inhabitants of Azara and Nasarawa towns, who were badly affected by a recent devastating flood, September 17 and 19, 2020, would remain their unforgettable days.
It was days of uninterrupted heavy rain that lasted for more than twenty four hours. No one was able to go out. The people’s prayer for the rain to stop was to no avail. They watched helplessly as the downpour steadily caused havoc, submerging homes and damaging valuable belongings.
How it happened
In Azara town of Awe LGA of the state, it was gathered that the rain started in the midnight and lasted for two days, non-stop. A resident of the area who simply gave his name as Musa narrated that it took a long time before the rain subsided. He said the downpour was heavy and that nobody was able to come out of the house.
“In my house, all our mattresses were soaked with water and we had to stand till daybreak before we started to evacuate some of the destroyed property. Of course, you know that the properties were soaked and there was no place to keep them dry and so they were damaged,” Musa narrated.
In Nasarawa town, the situation was not different. Mrs. Salatu Umar could not state the exact time the heavy rain commenced. But she said it started early in the morning and poured for a whole day.
“I cannot remember exactly the time the rain started. The rain was so heavy that we were afraid moving out, for fear of being washed away. The pressure with which the water was flowing was capable of moving anyone. All we were concerned was for our children not to be carried by the water,” Salatu narrated as she broke down in tears.
The cause of flood
HRH Ibrahim Usman Jibrin, the Emir of Nasarawa, has said that the flood was caused by lack of proper drainage system and the indiscriminate dumping of refuse in waterways by residents.
The former minister of environment lamented that the situation is also worsened by resident’s non-compliance with building regulations.
Consequently, he urged the Nasarawa state government to empower the state Urban Development Board, with adequate manpower so as to effectively discharge their duties of keeping the town and villages clean. Also, he called on residents of the affected places to desist from building and dumping refuse on water channels.
The damage and destruction
In both Nasarawa town and Azara community, residents estimated that over 500 houses were submerged, just as worship centres, schools, clinics and shops were not spared. Also, many farms including poultry and fishery were destroyed.
The worst of all, according to residents of Azara community, is the collapse of an only bridge that links the area with other neighbouring communities. Several other bridges were affected. Azara borders with Wuse and Akiri towns of Awe LGA, and it also shares boundary with Taraba, Plateau, and Benue states respectively.
Residents say the collapsed Azara bridge is the only access to the area and with its destruction, the people are now prevented from going in and out of the community.
Lawan Yakubu Makori, who lives in the community blamed the collapse of the bridge on government’s ineptitude and negligence.
“The Azara bridge was gradually affected, for about half a year now, especially whenever it rains. Government officials drive on the bridge and they see the bad nature of it. But action has not been taking by government till it finally collapsed as a result of the heavy downpour, cutting off the area completely.”
The plight of IDPs
Although at the moment, there is no officially confirmed figure of the displaced persons in both Nasarawa and Azara towns of the state, it was however gathered that more than 4,000 persons were rendered homeless by the ravaging flood.
The State Emergency Management Agency is yet to speak on the matter. The Executive Secretary of the agency, Zakari Alumaga kept mum on whether or not distribution of relief materials has commenced.
But for Muhktar Haruna, a resident of Water Board community of Nasarawa town who had his poultry farm submerged by flood, nothing from government can be commensurate with what he has lost.
Similarly, Mrs. Halimatu Kande Umar, a supervisory councilor of health with the Nasarawa LGA narrated her ordeal. Her house was submerged.
Sadly, Halimatu hinted that hoodlums stole some of her belongings in the process of evacuation.
“Our hope is on government because right now, people are even stealing our property as we are trying to remove them from the flooded place. We are praying to God to touch the mind of our leaders to come to the aid of all those staying by the riverside. We will be happy if they remove us from here and take us somewhere else,” she revealed.
Meanwhile, the governor, Abdullahi Sule who visited the flooded Nasarawa town had ordered the immediate evacuation of the IDPs. He did not reveal where to camp them. Also, he had directed that relief materials be quickly provided to ameliorate the suffering of the people.