Floods have ravaged over 20 villages across six local governments of Sokoto State rendering over 8,000 people homeless. Farmlands also have been washed away.
The affected Local Government Areas are Gada, Illelah, Gwadabawa, Raba, Silami and Wamakko. At some of the affected villages visited by this reporter, victims of the flood were seen battling to escape from their collapsed houses.
The main road from Sokoto that leads to Birnin Kwarni in Niger Republic through Kware, Gwadabawa and Illelah has been submerged by water thereby making it near impossible for free flow of traffic. A bridge along the road that the water passes under has collapsed.
Similarly, the two roads leading to Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto, through Illelah and Sokoto township roads, have been submerged by the flood and two of the three bridges along the two roads have collapsed, cutting off the university community from the rest of the state.
The Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Riskuwa Arabu Shehu, said he was forced by the situation created by the flood to close down the institution indefinitely, saying the flood has put the institution at a great risk. Professor Shehu said in a statement made available to Sunday Trust that, “within the last 24 hours, one of the bridges along the main access course way to the university has collapsed, cutting off the main campus from Sokoto metropolis”. At the same time, the other access road to the university along Sokoto – Illela highway, is also not motorable as the bridge under repairs along that road has also been submerged. Both incidents were occasioned by recent massive release of water from Goronyo dam.
“In view of these unfortunate incidents, it is not possible for the university to continue with normal academic activities until the situation is brought under control. We are therefore left with no option than to temporarily close the university until further notice. Furthermore, all possible avenues are being explored to bring the situation back to normal as soon as possible”, the statement from Professor Shehu read in part.
When Sunday Trust visited the road leading to the University from the Sokoto township roads on Friday afternoon, students of the institution who had earlier left their campus to say their Eid-el Fitri prayer that morning could not return back to their hostel as the collapsed bridge has but cut the university from the main town. Students and villagers living around the university were seen at both ends of the bridge in a helpless mood as they cannot cross.
In a related development, an early morning flood on Saturday sacked a number of villages in two local government areas of Kebbi State, displacing villagers and destroying properties which value is yet to be ascertained.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the flood, which ravaged Argungu and Augie, did not claim any life.
Alhaji Garba Birnin Tudu, Sole Administrator of Augie local government, told newsmen that the flood affected 25 towns and villages in his area.
He said the flood was caused by a spillover from Goronyo dam in neighbouring Sokoto State, noting that there was the need for urgent action for flood not to affect the state capital, Birnin Kebbi.
The Sole Administrator of Argungu local government area, Alhaji Ahmed Salihu, also told newsmen that the flood affected 15 villages and towns in the area.
Ahmed said efforts were underway to assist the victims, adding: ``we have evacuated the victims and resettled them pending the intervention of the state government.’’
Meanwhile, the state government has set up an ad hoc committee under the leadership of the Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Bello Tugga, to evolve modalities to assist the victims.
Confirming the situation in a telephone interview, Sokoto State Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Dahiru Maishanu, said the state Governor, Alhaji Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, has visited all the affected communities in the six local government areas and commiserated with the victims of the flood.
He said the state government had approved the release of N200 million to the victims, in addition to the sum of N20 million given to each of the affected local governments to assist the flood victims.
Alhaji Maishanu said the state government has mobilized canoes and vehicles used in evacuating trapped victims of the flood to safety.
He added that adequate arrangements have been made to evacuate the over 8,000 people affected to resettle them at a safe place. The Commissioner also said food items in large quantities have been distributed to the victims.
Most of the affected communities visited by the reporter said the governor visited them and gave financial assistance to them but that the local governments were yet to give them anything. In Gada, one Malam Ahmadu Kale admitted seven of them whose houses were destroyed were given N30,000 each and three bags of grains to share.
But at Girapchi village in Wamakko Local Government, a few kilometres away from the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto, residents whose houses and farmlands were destroyed said no government official had visited them.
Some of the residents who gave their names as Tukur Wadata, Abubakar Bello, Ibrahim Wadata, Lauwali Mafara and Muktari Bello, said in separate interviews that three days after over 50 houses were washed away by flood, no government official had visited to either sympathize with them or offer any form of assistance.
They claimed that even the two canoes they are using to rescue women, children and the aged ones, were privately sourced.
When contacted on phone for comments on the situation, the state’s Commissioner for Environment, Alhaji Mohammed Lawal Zaiyani, told this reporter that the mobile network was not clear and switched off his phone.
However, addressing the association of residents of non-Sokoto indigenes who paid him Sallah homage at the presidential lodge, Sokoto yesterday, Governor Wamakko pleaded for the assistance of the Federal Government to tackle the problem.
When this reporter visited some of the affected areas in Wamakko, Kware and Illela Local Government Areas yesterday, officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) were seen rescuing trapped victims with the four engine boats they mobilized to the place.
Similarly, a Birnin Kebbi-based businessman who pleaded anonymity, has deployed two of his engine boats from Kebbi State to assist rescue those trapped around the Usman Danfodio University. There was, however, no report of loss of lives as at the time of filing this report.