From Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi

Due to its geographical location, weather is not always friendly to residents of Kebbi State. The people of the state endure wet season, cold and hot seasons annually, which usually come with different illnesses.

The recent damage of the transformer supplying electricity to Kebbi State, coupled frequent national grid collapse, compounded the residents’ challenges during the heat season, which usually commence in February annually. The season frequently falls into the Ramadan fasting period of Muslims in the state and lasts till April.

During this period, residents’ daily means of survival depends on stable power supply to get cold water, ice blocks and air-conditioners. This is the moment when villagers from various towns and hamlets usually besiege Birnin Kebbi, the state capital, in search of ice blocks, known as ‘kankara’, in large quantities.

It was widely reported that the temperature reached more than 44°C before fasting kicked off this year. During fasting, it is always fluctuating between 44°C and 45°C, thereby causing dehydration and suffocation among the people.

While speaking with Daily Sun, Comrade Umar Abdullahi, a member of the NLC in the state, explained that this is a period when many civil servants in the state take their annual leave to enable them travel outside the state or stay indoors throughout the fasting period.

He said: “When the heat season is approaching, it usually causes panick among the people, especially if there is no 24 hours electricity. Secondly, if the period falls into  the holy month of Ramadan, our worry on how to survive usually creates concern.”

Abdullahi noted that it was during the heat period that  children usually suffer meningitis and measles, while adults suffer severe burns, rashes, stroke and other diseases.

He added that, coupled with the economic hardship in the country and insecurity in the rural areas, it is a reality that Kebbi State needs prompt interventions to save the people from suffocation, dehydration and to ease the hardship.

Concerned by this situation, Governor Nasir Idris released funds to Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KAEDCO) recently to ensure that there is stable power supply to the state. Though the amount was not disclosed, it was said to be millions of naira to compel the company to supply sufficient energy to the state during the fasting period.

Besides, the state government, in order to ease the hardship of the people, purchased about 200 truckloads of assorted grains and distributed them to more than 15,000 families, irrespective of their religious or political affiliations, zones and local government areas.

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While speaking on this gesture, Special Adviser to the Governor on Power and Political Matters, Alhaji Kabiru Sani-Giant, said that the governor had taken all measures to ensure uninterrupted power supply during and after Ramadan, adding that the state has experienced reduction in power supply due to energy drop nationwide.

Giant recalled that the governor had a meeting with the top management of  KAEDCO on ways to ensure regular powder supply in the state during which they reached a consensus and he provided financial support to the company to ensure they provided sufficient power to the state during Ramadan.

According to him, “Under the arrangement, the six feeders serving the state capital have been allocated specific hours to distribute energy to consumers. Gov. Idris has placed premium on energy, which is the foundation for economic growth; that is why he has also procured 40 new transformers, which will soon be commissioned and installed to boost electricity supply in the state.”

He appealed to consumers of electricity to endeavour to settle their monthly bills unfailingly to enable KAEDCO purchase more energy from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Arch. Muhammad Sani Aliyu, during an interaction with newsmen, confirmed that, apart from distribution of grains to people during the ongoing Ramadan, the state government had designated mosques across the state where 11,400 people would be getting free meals per day.

He said: “This is government of the people, it cares about their welfare. We are aware of the hardship of our people and that is why the governor decided to take urgent actions. Through our ministry, there is Ramadan feeding at designated mosques across the state, targeting 11,400 per day.

“Not only that, there is also a programme for vulnerable groups during this Ramadan as well as interventions for girls’ schools and women groups in centres across the state by the governor’s wife, Hajiya Nafisa Nasir Idris, targeting 1,709 families.

  “Similarly, there are joint house-to-house Ramadan packages in Birnin Kebbi and women groups at designated centres in the three emirate headquarters outside Birnin Kebbi. These programmes targets 14,000 families, 5,000 in Birnin Kebbi and 3,000 each in Argungu, Yauri and Zuru emirates.”

Aliyu explained that the two wives of the governor, Hajiya Zainab Nasir Idris and Hajiya Nafisa Nasir Idris, have been moving from one local government area to another to distribute palliatives to vulnerable groups and empower the women.

“All these interventions are to cushion the hardship of the season. Some of these interventions are under the Ministry of Religious Affairs and some are in liaison with the ministry as support to the general public.”