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Oyo Flooding: Jonathan, Ajimobi, Admit 'Powerlessness'

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IBADAN, SEPTEMBER 03, (THE WILL) - President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan confounded millions of citizens yesterday when he admitted to “helplessness,” during his visit to Ibadan, alongside prominent members of the Federal Executive Council, to access the extent of damage caused by the torrent of August 19. (His host, the governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, followed suit to re-echo, saying he was also “helpless.”) Ironically, the president pledged that the federal government would come to the aid of the beleaguered state.

After undertaking an unenviable tour of affected areas in a chopper, Jonathan expressed sadness over the fatal occurrence, describing the damage as “mind-boggling and terrible.” He then prayed that “God would give bereaved families the fortitude to bear the loss.”

“We [came in and] flew over some of the places and saw the extent of damage. We feel pained, but being a natural disaster, we felt it is an occurrence we are all helpless about,” he said. Governor Ajimobi had similar words, but they were directed to the president: “We are in a state of despair. We feel helpless. We look unto you for assistance.”

Expectedly, the president only promised to further examine the extent of damage, by despatching to Ibadan, officials of the federal ministries of Water, Environment and Works, to liaise with officials of the state government in assessing the situation and exploring immediate areas of intervention. He also commended the state government for its “rapid response” to the disaster by deploying necessary agencies to provide succour to victims of the flood.

Thanking the president for the visit, Governor Ajimobi described as commendable, the concern of the federal government since the monumental disaster. “No state in the zone has recorded a disaster of this magnitude with attendant loss of lives and property,” he said.

The August 19 destructive downpour re-enacted relics of the ‘Omiyale’ tragedy of 1980, when the famous Ogunpa River over-flooded its banks to swallow up hundreds of residents, houses and other property. According to Umar Mairiga, a spokesperson of the Nigerian Red Cross, the latest in the wave of flooding currently ravaging many states in the country swept homes away and gulped “at least 102 lives”, many of whom were trapped in their residences.