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Lokogoma Flood: Need For Action, Call For Cooperation

23rd Jun, 2019 | BY Anthony Ogunleye | ||

Over the last few weeks the issue of recurring flooding at the Lokogoma District of Abuja has gained media attention. Videos of rapidly flowing water wreaking havoc on properties in that area are awash on both the social and mainstream media.

Also featuring prominently in news reports are the incidents of loss of lives due to drowning as the waters swept away those unfortunate enough to be caught in its path. Incidents of flooding across different parts of Nigeria are not new especially during the rainy season. However, until about a couple of years ago, the FCT has largely been spared the devastation of flooding as witnessed in some other parts of the country.

The reason for this is not difficult to deduce. Abuja is a well-planned city with an equally well laid-out Master Plan that has taken into consideration all natural occurring phenomena including and especially flooding. A functional central drainage system evacuates rain water almost as soon as it falls, thereby making flooding a non-issue. In planning the city, certain areas were identified as flood plains and natural water courses on which development of any kind are prohibited. Also prohibited are constructions of any kind on designated water and sewer lines. These prohibitions are for very obvious reasons. Construction on these areas can lead to property damage and loss of lives.

That is the case of the Lokogoma District of Abuja where at least five persons are reported to have lost their lives over the last couple of years due to flooding. This is in addition to properties worth millions of Naira either rendered useless or completely washed away. Following the 2017 flooding incident in which a man and his children were swept away in rapidly flowing flood water, the former Minister of FCT, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, directed that some immediate remedial measures be taken to prevent a future occurrence. While this might have provided some respite, it became quite apparent that a permanent solution would have to be implemented if the residents of that district are to be freed from the dangers posed by annual flooding.

That solution came down to the removal of all illegal and encroaching structures erected on water courses. It must be mentioned at this point that Rivers Kabusa and Wumba have their natural courses running through the district. Some estate developers, however, decided to either attempt to divert the natural waterway or, worse still, erect structures on flood plains. This resulted in the substantial constriction of these natural waterways and narrowed the right of waterway and the result is severe flooding.

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Capital Territory, Sir Chinyeaka Ohaa paid an unscheduled visit to the Lokogoma District to assess the situation for himself. After a thorough examination of all the issues and recognizing the dangers of not taking immediate action, he directed that all illegal structures blocking natural waterways and food plains be removed and gave all those affected by this removal order two weeks to vacate the illegal structures.

This directive, as expected, elicited mixed reactions from members of the public. While a good majority of FCT residents support this policy based on reactions garnered from media feedbacks, some others have some reservations which can be summarized as follows: what happens to off-takers who bought or rented properties from developers? Two weeks is too short a notice for evacuation. As to what happens to residents who purchased or leased houses from developers that violated Development Control laws, the Permanent Secretary responded that while their predicament is deserving of sympathy, they should have done their due diligence before purchasing or renting those properties.

Indeed, the FCT, like other states of the federation, has some unscrupulous property developers who have their sights fixed squarely on the bottom line and will not leave any line uncrossed as long as it will fetch some money as any discerning property buyer should know. Potential property buyers should ask questions and confirm the status of the properties they wish to purchase or rent from the relevant bodies of FCTA before doing so. This will certainly put minds at ease and save properties and even lives. The developers who have violated the laws are liable for whatever losses their clients may incur from this removal exercise and victims possess the right to seek redress.

As to whether two weeks is enough notice for those affected? The answer to that is rather simple. Nature gives no notice. In the event of another heavy downpour and lives or properties destroyed (God forbid!) the two weeks' notice would have proven to be too long indeed for those affected. The bottom line is that government has a responsibility to protect lives and property from all threats and the citizenry also have the responsibility to do the needful. Following all extant rules where applicable is always a good place to start.

The problem at Lokogoma is good example of where rules are flaunted and retribution is coming from quarters from which there is no escape. We have reached a point where neither legal restraint nor strong-arm tactics can work because Mother Nature is fully in charge now and she is calling the shots in the most brutal of fashions. The best we can do for ourselves is simply to comply.

News Update

The Minister said these after a meeting of the FCT Security Committee which comprises heads of the police, military and para-military formations in FCT as well as Area Council Chairmen and religious leaders.

The cheery news is coming as Minister of State, FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu will headline a distinguished galaxy of stakeholders for the FCT pension stakeholders retreat this week.

Finally last week, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) took over managing and operating the newly- completed Nigeria-Korea Model School in Abuja.

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that his Administration will continue to fashion policies designed to ensure employment and security of all citizens, especially the youth.

Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has decried the lynching of three suspected traffic robbers popularly known as 'One chance' in Dutsen Alhaji area of Abuja last week.

Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) always makes public the allocations in line with President Muhammadu Buhari's Change Agenda which harps on transparency, anti-corruption and accountability, tenets which FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has made his beacon.


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