STEPHEN OLUFEMI ONI reports on how elated farmers affected by this year’s rampaging flood in Patigi and Edu local government areas of Kwara State were when the state government distributed 1,200 bags of fertiliser towards preparing them ahead of the next planting season
It was jubilation galore as scores of victims of the 2022 flooding, who are predominantly farmers, in Patigi and Edu local government areas of Kwara State on Monday, November 21 got succour of no fewer than 1,200 bags of fertilizer from the state government to boost their farming activities ahead of the next planting season. The distribution exercise, which held at the Agricultural Development Project Office (ADP) in Lafiagi, headquarters of Edu Local Government Area, and Patigi, headquarters of Patigi Local Government Area, was said to be in fulfilment of the earlier pledge made by Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq to the flood victims during the government’s sympathy visit to the two areas. The flooding had swept away several hectares of farmlands, resulting in huge and monumental destruction of farm proceeds worth millions of naira.
It would be recalled that in the wake of the devastating flooding that had ravaged the two local government areas, Governor AbdulRazaq had in October sent two different high powered delegations to Patigi and Lafiagi to commiserate with the victims, and also assure them of the state government’s intervention in due course towards ameliorating their plight.
While Deputy Governor Kayode Alabi led the government delegation to Patigi, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mallam Gidado Abdullateef Alakawa headed that of Lafiagi. Aside from the Kwara State Government’s interventions in the 2022 flooding that swept across the state, the Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC) also came in handy as the Federal Government agency distributed relief materials worth about N50 million to the affected 1,200 households in Patigi to ameliorate their suffering, while similar gesture was also extended to the flood victims in Lafiagi.
The relief materials procured by HYPPADEC for distribution included 1,300 mattresses, a large number of roofing sheets, 500 bags of rice, 200 cartons of soap and 250 cartons of detergent, among others, aside from the promise of provision of 250 housing units to those displaced by flood from the riverine communities in the state. According to the HYPPADEC Managing Director, Alhaji Abubakar Yelwa, the Commission would also follow the distribution of relief materials with medical outreach among the victims as well as other natives in Patigi to prevent possible breakout of epidemic, adding that the Commission had just flagged off the medical outreach in Lafiagi.
However, the HYPPADEC MD was disgusted by the recalcitrance of the people living in the riverine areas to move to safer abode, saying HYPPADEC was considering sponsoring a bill towards the enactment of a law that would prohibit people from residing at certain distance away from the river banks so as to put an end to the recurring losses of lives and properties.
He said: “Getting our people living in riverine areas relocated to safer abodes has remained a big challenge the Commission is facing. They have been turning deaf ear to all the warnings since about a decade ago to move out of this deadly zone, but they would not move. Yet, year in, year out, they keep crying and wailing that what they are experiencing now is far more than what they experienced in the previous years. The point is that there is a climatic change and that will keep increasing while that of next year will be worse. That is the truth.”
Governor AbdulRazaq, however, called for the dredging of River Niger by the Federal Government to put an end to perennial flooding wreaking havoc across the country, particularly riverine areas, instead of the yearly ritual of reeling out palliatives and relief materials to the flood victims which, he noted, were only temporary measures as the flood keeps recurring with greater intensity and destruction to lives and properties. Flagging off the exercise, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mallam Gidado Abdul- Lateef Alakawa, said the gesture was to mitigate the devastating impacts of the recent flood disaster on indigenous farmers and boost food security in Kwara state and the country at large. According to him, the state government under the leadership of Governor AbdulRazaq believes that Nupe people are highly enterprising, especially when provided with an enabling environment and necessary support to make them thrive in their farming activities. He said: “This is the first phase of the interventions lined up for the farmers and the people of your communities. The present administration believes in giving you these items to make you productive in the society by creating employment opportunities for value chain operators and increasing food security as well as revenue generation for the state.”
Alakawa stated that the distributed items would afford the farmers the needed support to resume their farming activities during the dry season, with a view to assisting the state government in achieving its all-yearround farming programme. He encouraged the farmers not to lose hope in the state government, pointing out that the government is working round the clock in collaboration with other relevant agencies to bring more relief to cushion their plight. Alakawa, however, implored the farmers not to sell the items in order to bring to fruition the objectives of the state government concerning the programme. The beneficiaries cut across the 10 wards each of Edu and Patigi Local Government Areas with four bags of fertilizer given to each farmer.
The Chairman, Transition Implementation Committee (TIC) of Patigi Local Government, Alhaji Mohammed Liman, appreciated the state government’s gesture, noting that it would cushion the hardship caused by the flood disaster in the area. Also in his remarks at Lafiagi in Edu Local Government, the TIC Chairman, Mallam Mohammed Aliyu, said the gesture would reduce hunger and help to increase the farmers’ income. Spokesman of the beneficiaries, Mohammed Salihu from Dumagi, Shonga ward II, thanked the state governor for coming to their rescue and assured that the items would be judiciously utilised. Salihu, however, promised that the people of the communities would show their appreciation to Governor AbdulRazaq at the appropriate time.