The Federal Government has promised to dredge River Benue and construct additional drainage system to combat the menace of incessant flood being experienced in Benue State.
President Muhammadu Buhari made the promise on Wednesday while addressing the Internally Displaced Persons at the International Market camp in Makurdi.
Represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, the President expressed optimism that the dredging of the river would provide permanent solution to the flooding problem.
He also hoped that the dredging would not only tackle flooding but also create job opportunities for the youth.
“We need to look at a realistic solution to this problem, the dredging of River Benue is very important in addressing this flood issue and we will do something about it,’’ the President said.
Buhari said government was not only concerned about this year’s flood disaster but the 2012 disaster too and would find permanent solution to Benue incessant flooding.
“The intention of the Federal Government is not just to assist flood victims but also to find ways of providing real opportunities to help Nigerians improve their standard of living. ” he said.
Buhari restated his administration’s determination to fulfil all its campaign promises to the citizenry.
Earlier, Governor Samuel Ortom, while welcoming the President, had appealed to the Federal Government to assist the state in dredging the river and complete ongoing drainage system in the state.
Ortom also commended the President for his prompt response and provision of relief materials to the flood victims.
He said that the state had received eight-truck load of relief materials from the National Emergency Management Agency, adding that five others were on the way.
The governor commended the Nigerian Air Force for the provision of healthcare system to the IDPs camp and other civil society groups for their various contributions as well.
Ortom also thanked the Nasarawa State Government for donating five trucks of relief materials to the victims of the devastating flood.
The governor, however, appealed to the Federal Government to urgently complete the construction of Idye, Wurukum and old Assembly Quarters’ drainage which was started in 2004 at the cost of N2bn through the World Bank ecological funds.
He said, “This project started in 2004 under former governor George Akume, when I was a Commissioner for Water Resources but could not be completed which is evident in what you are seeing today in Benue State. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the Federal Government to complete the project so as to save the people of the state from the flood menace.’’
During the visit, the Vice-President inspected Idye stream which overflows its banks during the rainy season and flooded Radio Benue and some parts of Makurdi.
The Benue State Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu, during the inspection tour told the Vice-President that the contract for the construction of the Idye drainage was awarded to CAD Construction Company, Abuja for N2bn.
He said the company later abandoned the project after only about N750m was expended on it.
Osinbajo was accompanied on the visit by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh; the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibril, and the Directorates General of NEMA, Mustapha Maihaja