Ekiti rainstorms victims count losses
By Victor Akinkuolie
In many parts of Nigeria, like the rest of the world, rainfall brings relief and comfort whenever it rains at the beginning of the year, while farmers look forward to the season in order to have a bountiful harvest.
But the reverse was the case for the people of the sleepy community of Oke-Ako, in Ajoni Local Council Development Area (LCDA), of Ekiti State.
February 31, 2023 will remain indelible in the minds of the residents of the agrarian community as about 105 residential buildings were pulled down by a heavy wind.
The day was a terrible one for the residents of the agrarian community, as properties worth several millions of naira perished in the torrential rainfall accompanied by heavy wind.
The rain which started at about 2:30pm on the fateful day lasted for about two hours, many houses including worship centers were pulled down and electrical poles thereby rendering many families homeless, while the community were subjected to a total blackout, compounding the burden of the rural dwellers battling cash scarcity in town.
Apart from the residential buildings that were pulled down by the wind during the mysterious rainfall, also affected were worship centres and liquor joints located in various parts of the community.
The incident was said to be the first of its kind in the community.
The destruction came less than a week after similar fate befell residents of Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, while other Nigerians were waiting for the results of the Presidential and National Assembly elections after exercising their franchise, many residents in Ado-Ekiti were counting their losses after heavy rainstorms.
Roof tops were blown off, electricity poles and wires were destroyed both in commercial and residential areas. Government institutions, schools, churches, farms were not spared in the natural disaster.
Areas affected mostly in Ado-Ekiti downpour include IIawe road area, Fiyinfolu, Ajilosun, Dallimon, Okesa, Barracks Road, Old Governor’s office area, Irona, Ekute Road and other towns in Ekiti such as Ifaki, Ayedun, Ijesa-Isu, among others.
A textile merchant along Oke-Ori-Omi, Benard Okafor, whose shop was blown off by the wind, lamented the loss he suffered from the rainfall.
“The roof of my shop was blown off, all my goods were soaked with water, I only came the second day to see my shop in ruins,” he said
Another trader, Mrs. Yetunde Alimi, said she was not happy seeing her shop destroyed, completely blown off, describing the situation as very sad. “I need huge cash to put the shop in order, while hoping that help would come.”
In an on-the-spot assessment at Oke-Ako, Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji, described the occurrence as highly devastating.
Oyebanji, who was represented by his deputy, Mrs Monisade Afuye, was conducted round the affected areas by the Regent of the town, Her Royal Highness Ogunbiyi Tinuade Adebayo; the lawmaker representing Ikole Constituency II, Adeoye Aribasoye; and the Chairman of Ajoni Local Council Development Area, Michael Ogungbemi.
Oyebanji, while condoling the people on the destruction caused by the rainstorm, expressed delight that no life was lost.
“We sympathize with the victims at this trying time and plead for calm, in the sense that a natural disaster of this nature is one occurrence that is difficult to control. But with personal precautions and right efforts, its effects can be minimized,” he said
The Governor opined that his administration is ready to support interested individuals to go into tree planting as part of efforts to safeguard the environment and minimize havocs wrecked on buildings by rainstorm.
“Tree planting is very essential. I observed that landlords here are not planting trees, I am not seeing them standing beside our houses. Let us inculcate the habit of tree planting to serve as wind breakers against storms.
“Let me also assure you that the state government won’t abandon you and allow you to regret in this devastating condition. We shall give all the necessary support to mitigate whatever effect this situation must have caused you,” he added.
Speaking on the level of destruction in the area, the lawmaker representing the constituency in the State House of Assembly, Adeoye Aribasoye, described the destruction as massive, assuring the people that succour will soon come for the victims.
According to him, the present government is a mass-oriented administration. He appealed to the victims to be peaceful and have faith in the current government, saying help will be offered to them to recover their losses.
The General Manager, Ekiti State Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Jide Borode, said the rainstorm effect could have been minimized if the landlords had keyed into the tree planting initiative of the state government.
As at the time of filling this report it was observed that most of the facilities, especially electricity poles and cables affected were yet to be fixed, compounding the pains of the people and exposing them to further danger.