From Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
The Ohimege of Koton-Karfe, Alhaji Abdulrazak Isa-Koto, has called on the federal government to urgently reconsider the dredging of the Niger river in order to control annual flooding in the area.
The native ruler made the appeal when the governing council of the Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission, ( HYPADEC), on a tour of member-states, paid him a courtesy visit at his palace on Wednesday.
The Ohimege, who noted that Kogi’s Koton-Karfe Local Government Area, was the point where Benue and Niger rivers meet, stressed that communities at the river bank are affected by annual floods.
In his words: ‘During rainy season, the river Niger usually overflows its bank, thereby destroying our farmlands and hindering our people, who are predominantly farmers and fishermen, to earn their livelihood.
‘As it is done elsewhere, I, therefore, call for the Commission to please look into the area of compensating anyone affected by flooding, because these are the people who contribute to the economic development of the country through food production.’
Earlier, Kogi State Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello charged HYPADEC to be proactive in tackling the menace of flooding affecting agricultural activities in the state.
Governor Bello gave the charge when the governing council of the HYPADEC, led by its Chairman, Joseph Terfa Ityau, paid a courtesy call on the governor in Government House, Lokoja.
According to him, the state has suffered colossal damage and devastation as a result of perennial flooding, stressing that many farmlands and fish ponds have been washed away by flood as a result of the overflow of the Benue and Niger rivers through various dams in the north, thereby rendering farmers in the affected communities homeless and deprived of their livelihoods.
The governor, represented by Deputy Governor Edward Onoja, appealed to the Commission for urgent attention to alleviate the hardships of river bank communities in the state.
Earlier, HYPADEC Chairman Ityau noted that the Commission was signed into law in 2010 to cover Kogi, Kwara, Kebbi, and Niger states, adding that the law was amended to include Benue and Plateau.
He noted that the key functions of the Commission is to formulate policies and guidelines for the development of hydroelectric power producing areas, assuring that the living standard of communities located along hydroelectric power dams areas would improve.
Terfa stressed that the purpose of the the familiarisation tour was to identify peculiar problems confronting each community in the six affected states with a view to finding solutions to them, as he urged the communities to cooperate with the Commission.
The members of the Commission later visited Ajaokuta, Adavi, Ajaokuta, Ofu, Ibaji and Idah Local Government Areas, where the impact of flooding is high in the state.