By Aliyu Sulaiman
Only last year, I wrote on this space and appealed that the government should save Hadejia (Jigawa State) from the perennial flooding that has been ravaging the region. I am certain that my small warning and appeal was not the first (or the last) from several quarters.
This year, downpours, as the heavy if to display the direct consequences of not taking heed to these warnings, have ravaged towns, roads and farmlands, causing monumental loss of lives and properties. Thousands of people have been displaced or stranded and are requesting for emergency aid.
Mother Nature and climate change are not emotional or rational. They do not negotiate or request for amnesty like ASUU or terrorists. And because Hadejia, Kafin Hausa and Auyo LGAs of Jigawa State are basically flood plains, it is natural that any overflowing by River Hadejia is bound to affect the region. This year’s flooding is majorly due to heavy and unusual precipitation during this year’s rainy season.
Seeing people lose their primary means of livelihood and the trauma that goes with it alone is always a cause for concern. The official death toll has now reached about a hundred. This is more disheartening since the losses could have been avoided or managed to a negligible scale.
River Hadejia cannot be stopped from flowing (or overflowing). The people of Hadejia zone cannot be evacuated from their ancestral lands either. That would even cost the already cash-constrained federal and state governments more than any amount it would need to prevent the adverse effects of the floods.
Simply put, the government can do more: Declare a state of emergency for starters and show empathy to the good people of Jigawa afterwards. An urgent federal government intervention at the very least.
Another exigency is the taking of additional measures such as levees, bunds, scores of reservoirs and weirs that should be constructed near the river to mitigate the possible recurrence of the water overflowing into towns and villages. This should be followed by the creation of an effective early warning system to keep residents on alert.
The truth is that the preventive measures taken by government have always fallen short of the required standards to guarantee that homes and farmlands are not ravaged. The effects of climate change will continually be felt and, with the way the government is handling the issue with kid gloves, there might not be any land or region to call Hadejia emirate in the not too distant future. We could be rendered extinct! God forbid.
To my dear governor and president. My people came through for you both in 2015 and 2019. It is time you came through for us. Our survival depends on it.
Aliyu Sulaiman wrote from Katsina via firstname.lastname@example.org