Jos - The floods that devastated most parts of the North-Central zone of Nigeria displaced more than one million people, Mohammed Abdulsalami, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Zonal Coordinator, said.
Abdulsalami told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos on Wednesday that the agency had established 36 camps to accommodate such Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
``The camps are spread among the six states of the North Central,’’ he said, adding that the worst hit was Kogi, closely followed by Benue.
``The two states had the worst cases because of their positioning along the River Niger and River Benue.
``In fact, in the case of Kogi, many people have even fled to parts of Anambra but we have followed them and established camps there,’’ he said.
Abdulsalami said, however, that many IDPs were not in the camps, preferring to live with neighbours, relations, family friends and clergymen.
``Many IDPs have complained of the inconvenience, regimented life and poor sanitation in the usually crowded camps and have opted to stay away.
``For such people, usually referred to as Non-camped IDPs, who are even more in number, we register them and give them some succour pending when we shall make a more permanent arrangement.
``We usually ask them to stand in front of the houses into which they are accommodated where we get their pictures and the other details to help us to sort them out,’’ he said.
The official described the effect of the flood as ``very, very colossal’’.
He said 300 people were confirmed killed in the floods, while farmlands, houses, roads and bridges were destroyed, in addition to numerous livestock that were killed.
``As I speak, many people are still missing and we still receive distress calls from communities in danger of being submerged,’’ he said.
Abdulsalami commended the respective state governments for working with NEMA to assist the affected persons, and particularly lauded prominent citizens of Benue, who directly assisted victims.
``In Benue, prominent indigenes like Senate President David Mark, NAFDAC Director General Paul Orhii and Sen. Barnabas Gemade have offered lots of assistance to the victims by bringing all kinds of relief materials,’’ he said.
He said that to ensure that the relief materials reached victims, the distribution was being done directly unlike in the past when the items were routed through traditional rulers and community leaders.
``We have often been inundated with complaints that some leaders were diverting the items.
``We have, therefore, changed the mode of distribution to ensure that the relief materials were not cornered by people who did not suffer any damage,’’ he said.
Other states in the North Central zone affected by the floods are Plateau, Nasarawa, Kwara, and Niger.