By Udora Orizu
The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) has warned that the country still has many weeks of rainfall in the course of the year and more floods are still expected in the months of September and October.
The Director General of the agency, Mr Clement Nze, who gave the warning at a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, said the current flood Ievel sighted in Niamey, Niger Republic, poses a dangerous threat to Nigeria.
He explained that any release of excess water from the dams in countries upstream rivers Niger and Benue this year will have more negative impact on Nigeria which is located downstream of countries in the Niger Basin.
According to him, the highly vulnerable states are Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Anambra, Edo, Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa.
Speaking further, he noted that the flood that ravaged Kebbi State, just about a week ago, left so much to be told, therefore the current flooding situation calls for vigilance on the part of all the stakeholders.
He advised state, local governments, multi-national companies and public-spirited individuals to put all hands on the deck to save the country from the consequences of a “twin pandemic” (COVID-19 and flood) in the year 2020.
Nze said: ”The rains are finally here, the volume of river flows on our river surge. River channels could no longer accommodate significant runoff as floodplains, which traditionally serve the alluvial plains and are rich in agricultural productivity, lost its retention capacity to give way to flooding of adjacent lands. Lives are being lost, property destroyed and humans are scampering for safety. Farmlands and crop yields are being lost to furry of floodwaters, livestock and ecosystem species are diminishing while hope for livelihood hang in balance due to monumental economic losses.
”As a matter of fact, all the states of the federation have suffered several degrees of flooding since June 2020. The danger is not yet over. Information received from the regional Niger Basin Authority (NBA) by NIHSA has it that as at 7.30am today 10th September 2020, the River Niger flood level in Niamey, Niger Republic, attained an unprecedented level of 7.02m (702cm).
“This is a far cry from the value of 6.60m which I reported in my last press briefing of 25th August, 2020. Noting that the Red Alert Warning Zone in Niamey is 6.20m and above, the current flood level sighted in Niamey poses a dangerous threat to the country, Nigeria, which is at the lower portion of Niger Basin within this month of September and October.
”Based on the report of the expected flood coming down from Niamey and the projected contributions by the inland rivers, both Kainji and Jebbo Dams built on River Niger have continued to spill water downstream. The Shiroro Dam on River Koduno, with reservoir level at 381.48m as at 9.00am today, has been maintaining a regulated spilling into the River Niger. The effect of all these is that the communities in the states adjoining River Niger will continue to be highly inundated by river flooding as is being witnessed in the recent time.
”The Agency, in addition to monitoring the flow on the River Niger System, is also keeping close tab on the developments on River Benue sub-basin and has maintained close contact with the Cameroonian authorities with regards to flood scenarios in the upper catchment of the sub-basin. Recent information received by the Agency from the Cameroon indicated that the Lagdo
Dam is still impounding water.
”Notwithstanding the early warning given by the Agency in its 2020 AFO and various media publications, urban and flash floods have continued to wreck havoc in many states of the federation, including the FCT. As at date, no less than 172 LGA in all states are counting their losses due to flood incidents. The non-existence of any dam structure within the Nigerian portion of River Benue makes Nigeria vulnerable to excessive flooding in the event of sudden or unannounced release of water from the Lagdo Dam.”
He added that blocked drainages and gutters should be cleared, river channels dredged and structures within the waterways and floodplains and flood paths pulled down.