5 January 2013

Nigeria: N17.6 Billion Relief Fund - Adamawa Flood Victims Get N450 Each

The woes of the victims of nature's fury through last year's devastating flood in various parts of the country have been further compounded by the handling of their plight by officials of the affected states and local governments.

In some states, the N17.6billion flood relief funds released by the federal government to bring succour to the victims, who had been sheltered in camps, has ended up in the private pockets of officials of committees and emergency outfits vested with the responsibility of managing their states' share of the funds.

The treatment of some victims by some state governments is appalling: some victims got between N450 and N3,000 compensation for losing their houses and farmlands to the floods. Worse still, some states have diverted part of the money they got from the federal government to fix infrastructure purportedly destroyed by the ravaging flood while others are still collating the data of the victims of the disaster, three months after the President Goodluck Jonathan administration released the relief funds on October 9, 2012.

An investigation of the disbursement of the funds and the plight of the flood victims by LEADERSHIP WEEKEND in some of the affected states showed that the management of the relief funds was far from the set objectives.

In Adamawa State, the plight of the victims was worsened by the apparent complacency of government officials.

Many victims of the flood in the state told our correspondents that officials assigned the responsibility of addressing their welfare had aided and abetted the diversion of funds and relief materials to other purposes.

The state government got N500million from the federal government to assist the victims. It had presumably developed a data base of the affected individuals for the disbursement of the funds. Despite this arrangement, several genuine victims did not find their names on the list while "strange names" made their way into it.

When money was eventually disbursed, many of the victims got a paltry N3,000. Of the 21 local government areas in Adamawa, only seven councils of Yola North, Yola South, Girei, Numan, Demsa, Shelleng and Lamurde were affected by the flood. If the funds had been distributed evenly, each council would have on the average received N58million.

But Lamurde local government area, which received the highest allocation, got N29million; Numan had N24million and Yola South received N19million while the others got below N19million each, bringing the total funds disbursed to the councils to between NI50million and N170million. This leaves the state government with a balance of N350million or N330million.

According to government sources, only N9million had been released to Lamurde that was allocated N29million. Officials of the council's committee handling the disbursement of funds said they received only N9million. It was learnt that it was not the whole N9million that got to the victims.

The situation was not different in other local government areas. A resident of Rugange, Mallama Amina, told LEADERSHIP WEEKEND that she lost her house, livestock and other property but got only N3, 000 as compensation. "What will I do with a paltry N3,000?" she asked.

Other victims in Lamurde alleged that they got only N450 as their share of the federal government's relief fund.

The state government has however insisted that it judiciously disbursed the N500million relief funds to the affected communities, asserting that no kobo was diverted.

The secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the state, Yohanna Mathias, had accused the state government of deploying the relief funds to prosecuting the last local government elections but the secretary to the state government (SSG), Mr. Kobis Thinnu Ari, said the fund was judiciously disbursed to the victims.

He told reporters that the committee first addressed the issue of food shortage in the various internally displaced persons' camps (IDCs), provided 60 trucks of fertiliser, seedlings and drugs for the victims.

Ari confirmed that Lamurde, the worst affected local government, got the largest share of N29million, Numan (N24million) and Yola South (N19million).

The Niger State government got N400million from the federal government funds and matched it with N150million, which was disbursed to the victims.

The director-general, Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA), Mohammed Shaba, said each household got a minimum of N60, 000 and maximum of N100, 000 depending on the level of losses.

He said that apart from individual loss, infrastructure such as roads and public schools, which were lost to the flood in 19 of the 25 local government areas, were fixed.

He said that at least N5billion was lost to the flood in the state including 300 hectares of farmlands which had made the N400 million and N150million from the federal and state governments respectively inadequate to address the effects of the flood.

One of the victims from Lapai, Ibrahim Abdul, said that government had interface with them but what they needed was complete resettlement and not handouts.

Others said they received between N50,000 and N60,000 per household. But contrary to the claim of NSEMA that cash was given to the victims, they said that the amount in some instances came in the form of materials.

Another victim in Lapai and head of a household, Egba Umar, said that cash ranging from N50,000 to N60,000 was given to each household, which made them receive N15,000 per family.

Another victim, Muhammed Muregi, stated that considering the nature of the extended family, a household could be made up of more than four distinct families and the amount given may end up N15,000 per family.

About 3,434 flood victims in Kaduna State are yet to heave a sigh of relief, three months after their houses, businesses and places of worship were destroyed by the last flood disasters.

Though the federal government released N400million to the state government as palliative to the victims, one of our correspondents who visited the affected areas, gathered that the victims were still waiting for assistance from the state government.

The Dakachi of Romi, Mr. Joseph Bala, and the village head of Gonin Gora, Mr. Yusuf Doma, whose domains were ravaged by the flood, expressed concern over the delay in the provision of the palliatives to the victims.

The late Governor Patrick Yakowa had, before his death, set up a seven-man panel to work out modalities for the provision of relief and rehabilitation materials to the victims.

When contacted on the matter, the special adviser to the governor on Christian matters, Rev. John Hayab, said the committee had concluded arrangement to distribute relief materials to the victims before Yakowa died.

The Rivers State government is however yet to receive its share from the federal government largesse.

Rivers, placed under category 'C' of states affected by the flood, was expected to get N300million from the funds.

A member of the State Flood Management Committee, Mrs. Ibim Seminatari, told LEADERSHIP WEEKEND that the committee was not aware of the release of any relief funds to the state.

In Delta State, 42,000 persons were registered in 22 relief camps in the first few days of the disaster. Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan set up the Justice Francis Tabai Committee, with the mandate to manage the federal government's N500million donation, the post-flood resettlement programme as well as the Delta State University (DELSU) Technical Committee, which submitted its report recently.

The state commissioner for special duties, Dr. Tony Nwaka, said the N500million relief funds had not been shared to the victims, adding that the delay was informed by the inability of the committee set up by Uduaghan to assess the extent of havoc wreaked by the flood across the state.

Although residents of the riverine areas of Anambra State who fled their homes as a result of the flood disaster have started returning to their communities, they have no homes to live in, because the floods swept away their buildings.

A victim, Steven Okwuosa, a native of Obeagwe community in Ogbaru local government area, said he was sad because "many primary school children in my village will have to wait for a long time before going back to school. The flood has pulled down their school buildings. Most of us are still with our relations in Onitsha so that our children can be in school."

The state government also got N500million as its share of the federal government largesse for the flood victims.

The SSG, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, who heads the committee on the flood disaster management, said the government had not completed its plan for the victims and the areas affected by the flood.

The death of the former national security adviser (NSA), Gen. Andrew Owoye Azazi, has thrown a cog in the wheel of the Bayelsa State government post-flood management plan in the state.

Governor Seriake Dickson, who inaugurated the committee, mandated it to mobilise resources for the rehabilitation of flood victims and rebuilding of critical infrastructure destroyed by the flood.

The 16-man committee has a director in the office of the SSG as secretary.

The secretary of the committee and commissioner of environment, Mr. Inuro Wills, said: "We had scheduled our third meeting to hold on December 13, 2012, but he (Azazi) called a few days later to ask for a rescheduling on account of another commitment.

According to him,"the arrangement was for a boat to be stationed in Bayelsa for a month, so that we can go from community to community for the assessment of the victims and their losses."

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