By Yemi Sodeeq
With emotionally laced countenances and a seemingly deep reflection on the properties lost to the flood that sacked their community last September, residents of the Gbaradogi community in Patigi local government area of Kwara State are still yet to recover from their losses.
A riverine community with people whose major source of income is fishing and agriculture, the locals wouldn’t forget the damage the flood brought to them in a hurry.
Recalling that they have always witnessed floods due to the location of their community which stretches on the bank of River Niger, the people of Gbaradogi concluded that the flood in 2022 remains the biggest ever in history.
In September, Nigeria’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouk, said at least 603 people had been killed in floods across the country with 1.3 million persons displaced from their communities.
She also revealed that about 82,053 houses had been totally decimated while 2,504,095 million persons were affected as well as over 300 hectares of land being damaged.
According to the Managing Director, Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission, HYPPADEC, Abubakar Yelwa, at least seven persons lost their lives to flood in different parts of Kwara State in 2022.
Abubakar, who identified riverine communities in Patigi as the worst hit by the disaster, noted that 1,300 households and 2,800 persons were affected in the flood disaster.
As Nigerians look forward to participating in the 2023 general elections, many voters in Gbaradogi would not be able to cast a ballot due to a natural disaster beyond their control. Majority of them lost their permanent voter cards, among other valuables to the flood.
Some of the locals who spoke to The Informant247 lamented that they lost their voter cards to the flood which crept into their households in the night and they had to run for the safety of their lives.
Still nurturing the damage occasioned by the disaster, Zainab Muhammad, a resident of Maiyaki in Gbaradogi was met sitting benumbed at the residence of her husband which is adjacent to the stretch of River Niger during a visit by The Informant247.
Zainab pointed out that one of the valuables she lost was her voter card.
“I lost my PVC to the flood,” she said. “I can’t find it again. It was a very bad experience. Although, my husband has made some efforts to help me do another one, I don’t really know much about how the process is going.”
Still, in Maiyaki where Jibril Ndagi Gurusa and Ahmed Jibrin lost among many other things the new buildings they were currently constructing to the flood, many of the residents, especially women said they lost their voter cards to the flood.
Ahmed Jibrin who appeared more politically informed said the loss of PVC would impact the outcome of the 2023 elections in their area, stressing that one village alone “has about 300 people that are potential voters”.
While other communities that lost their PVCs have reached out to the local government headquarters of the commission, one of the major reasons why most residents of Gbaradogi who lost their PVC to the flood haven’t made a concerted effort to recover it is due to the bad road linking their community to the main city.
The informant247 had reported that the road to Gbaradogi, and other farm settlements were left undone despite the release of funds by the government.
Salimatu Ahmed is a fish seller who recalled how she lost her voter’s card to the flood but decided not to get it back.
“I lost my card to the flood and can’t go to the INEC office in Patigi. You can see the state of the road yoursef. I can’t stress myself,” she said.
Ndatsu Sanni, Fatima Musa, Jumai Yunusa Rahmatu among several others also lost their PVC to the flood. For Rekiya Maaku, the details on her card washed away, thus rendering it useless.
Another community greatly affected by the flood is Sanchita village which is under Lade Ward 1 of Patigi local government area.
About four kilometres away from Lade, one of the major towns in Patigi, the people of the sparsely located Sanchita were sacked from their homes by the flood for a month.
More hellish about their condition is also the fact that the community has no particular and definitive road that connects it with the rest of the world.
The locals, who mostly travel on motorcycles are also at the mercy of a flood-torn and hand-made road they rely on to take their farm produce to market in pieces.
During a visit by The Informant247, some of the residents who used to vote at Dzako polling unit which serves as the polling booth for people in Lade ward 1 lamented their losses to the disastrous flood.
Zhitsu Adam, the village head of Sanchita revealed that the community was worst hit by the flood.”The flood took over this village,” he said.
“We had to take a shelter at our primary school where we also used to vote. We lost no fewer than five voters cards among other things in my own household here,” he added.
“We have not seen the magnitude of this year’s flood before. The flood used to come from New Bussa Dam through Jebba and down to this place and damage all our farmlands and make the house uninhabitable for us.
“The Emir of Patigi has once sent Journalists to this place before to take pictures of the village and cover all the damages but we don’t normally see the benefits of their exercise.”
Adam also believes that the loss of the voter card would bear a negative role in the upcoming general elections.
“It’s a very unfortunate situation that many will not have the opportunity to elect who they want to lead them because there’s no way they can vote without the voter’s card,” Ahe said.
The loss of PVC appears to be a general phenomenon in Sanchita as women, who were most vulnerable to the flood have lost their card.
“We lost about 60 voter cards in this place,” said Muhammadu Ahmadu who is a youth leader in the village.
Ahmadu noted that some of the locals especially women whose card’s details were washed away by the flood have disposed of them after realizing their invalidity.
Fatima Ibrahim, Fatima Husseini, Aishat Alhaji Madu, Hassana Alhaji Husseini, Aisha Yakubu, Aishat Husseini, Hawau Yahaya, Hawau Audu, Balikisu Muhammed, Ibrahim Muhammad, Aisha Idris and Muhammed Ndaodi are few of the many people that lost their PVCs in the community to the flood.
While on a visit to the headquarters of INEC in the local government, a utility staff of the office acknowledged that many people have been coming to complain that they lost their PVC to the flood.
The official claimed that all the major people working there have left for Ilorin, the Kwara State Capital.
“I think we have seen no fewer than 60 people that have been coming here to complain that they lost their PVCs to the flood. I am not sure they can get another one. They will have to wait until the next elections,” the staff who craved anonymity said.
When asked about the fate of those who lost their PVC to the flood, the Residential Electoral Commissioner of INEC in Kwara State, Garba Attahiru Madami said he has no comment on the development.
“I have no official reports that PVC is missing so no comments on that,” he said. “When I get the report that PVC is missing in Patigi, I will talk,” he added.
This report was published with the support from Civic Media Lab.