Members of the Kebbi State Caucus in the House of Representatives, on Tuesday, expressed grave concern over the loss of properties worth over N10 billion following the outbreak of flood which submerged houses, schools and rice farmlands across the State.
Chairman of the Caucus, Hon Muhammad Jega, who gave an account of the impact of the flood at a press briefing held in Abuja, commensurate with the government and the people of Kebbi State over the flood disaster which ravaged the entire state being the focal point of Federal Government’s policy on rice production.
According to the Caucus, Kebbi State contributes about 60 per cent of local rice production in Nigeria.
The lawmakers further observed that the recent flood disaster also impacted negatively on inter-state transportation and communication from the South and North-West geopolitical zones of the country impossible.
Hon. Jega said: “We the Kebbi State caucus of the House of Representatives commensurate with the government and people of Kebbi State over the flood disaster that has ravaged the entire state being the focal point of the Federal Government policy for rice production in the country.
“The disaster could not have come at a worse time for our farmers who hitherto looked forward to a bumper harvest this year to reduce the rising cost of food items, it is a major setback to the Federal Government effort to boost local rice production as part of measures to end rice importation.
“The flood is a serious setback toward addressing food security in the country, the Government, therefore, need to address the shortfall of the food supply chain to reduce the hardship and cost of food items in the market and also address the severe environmental degradation caused by the flood. This may include adequate and early preparation for dry-season farming and reconstruction of major infrastructure affected in the State.
“We commend the President and commander in chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria President Muhammad Buhari GCFR and the Executive Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu for the prompt response to reduce the hardship caused by the flood.
“The estimated cost of the disaster is over N10 billion across the State, We call on the Federal Government as a matter of urgency to send relief materials to alleviate the suffering of the people in the State, early preparation for dry season farming should commence in earnest with the provision of seedlings, fertilizer and other inputs to be made available to the farmers in good time,
“Finally we call on the Federal Government to commission a study with the aim of providing a lasting solution to the perennial flood disaster in the state,” Hon. Jega urged.
The lawmakers who expressed concern over the effects of the flooding on various agricultural produces invested into by the farmers across the state, including rice production, argued that the “flood disaster occurred at a time the farmers are expecting bumper harvest because they have estimated that they would have harvested before the end of September.”
On his part, Chairman, House Committee on Air Force, Hon. Shehu Koko observed that Kebbi State which plays a significant role in the actualization of the Federal Government’s rice production policy which led to the closure of borders with the view to halting the importation of rice from neighbouring countries.
“I’m just 42 years old, I’ve never seen this kind of flood in Kebbi and all my life I’ve stayed in Kebbi, this is almost one out of 50 years. What you see from the valley of Argungu close to the Benin Republic were submerged by flooding.
“This is quite different and that is why we are calling on the Federal Government to commission a study on what caused this problem. If it is climate change what can we do about it?”
To this end, the lawmakers called for the support of Federal Government and the international community in alleviation the sufferings of farmers and thousands of households affected by the flood, which they described as unprecedented since over 50 years.
They also urged Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to put necessary measures in place to alleviate the sufferings of rice farmers among the 1.6 million farmers who benefitted from the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) in 2020 farming season.