Benue Government has abandoned us, flood victims say

Benue got N500 million from the federal government as flood relief.

Many victims of last year’s flood disaster in Benue have returned to the flood-affected areas, in spite of the State Government’s warning for people to stay away from the areas, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.

An investigation conducted by a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday revealed that the victims were yet to benefit from the funds released by the Federal Government five months ago.

The victims, who are yet to benefit from the N500 million approved by the Federal Government for the flood victims, said they had no alternative than to return to the flood-affected areas after the government abandoned them.

The victims expressed dissatisfaction over the delay in the distribution of materials provided by the State Government.

One of the victims, Dennis Igbana, said that the victims had no other option than to return to the areas affected by floods.

“Our situation is that of the abandoned child, we are treated as if we do not belong to this state or country, we are being abandoned as if we choose ourselves to be affected by flood.

“Before the flood, we were living happily even though we did not have much as a people, we were eating and drinking from the little that we had.

“Now some people in government are making jest of us, they took advantage of our situation to enrich themselves while we live in abject poverty, they are constantly praying for yet another flood because of what they stand to gain.

“We cannot question God why we are citizens of Benue State, other states in the country such as Edo State, had released additional funds and shared to the victims, but in my state, our government officials have decided to take away even the little one Mr. President had given us,” he lamented.

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Since the victims were forced out of the camps on November 24, 2012, majority of them now use uncompleted buildings and makeshift tents as temporary settlements.

The victims of the disaster had continuously suffered untold hardships in the process of trying to make new homes, due to a lack of support. They may be in for another disaster should they continue to stay in uncompleted buildings and makeshift tents during the raining season.

Another victim, Iyoyame Torkula, said that he had already completed planting his yam along the banks of the River Benue.

“I have completed my yam farm, the one affected last year was bigger than the one I have planted this year, life must continue and we have to eat too.

“My house, farm lands and everything I had, was submerged by the flood. We were staying in the camps but were later forced out even when the government knew very well that we had no place to stay.

“We are going to remain here, even though we are suffering, we do not care, after all nobody cares about us.

“We want to move on with our lives, people who are not affected do not understand what we are passing through now,” Mr. Torkula stated.

The Chairman of the Benue State Committee on Flood Disaster Relief Management, Theophilus Adzaagee, attributed the delay in resettling the victims to a lack of comprehensive data.

Mr. Adzaagee said that the Benue Government would not politicise the exercise at the detriment of the victims.

About five months after the close of the camps for the victims, fire had gutted relief materials meant for the victims at the Local Government Education Authority in Wurukum, Makurdi.

(NAN)

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