•NEMA says no need for panic, insists stakeholders abreast with issue
•Edo, Benue govts issue warning alerts to residents in lowlands
•Agency distributes relief materials to 19, 752 flood victims in Rivers
Olawale Ajimotokan, Kuni Tyessi in Abuja, Adibe Emenyonu in Benin, George Okoh in Makurdi and Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt
The federal government once more, warned yesterday, that several frontline states risk flooding in the next seven days by the opening of the Lagdo Dam by the Cameroonian authorities.
The dam is located along River Benue in the Republic of Cameroon and has a history of over flooding some Nigerians states that are along its navigation ways.
The states that might be affected include Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Enugu, Edo, Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa.
The flood warning alert was issued by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu, at a media briefing held at the instance of the Presidential Committee instituted by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja.
It was also resolved that the Vice President, Kasim Shettima would chair the Committee.
Minister of Environment, Dr. Iziaq Salako and
Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev, were are also members of the committee.
Edu, urged the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) to immediately upscale actions by ensuring the evacuation of Nigerians from various communities to safer destinations.
She said the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs would work with subnational and local government authorities towards the provision of shelters for the affected citizens.
She noted that some of the people living in most of the communities who may be affected were afraid of losing their ancestral homes, despite the warning.
The minister stressed the resolve of the Tinubu-led administration toward putting necessary measures in place to safeguard the lives of property of Nigerians across the country.
On his part, Salako disclosed that the Ministry of Environment had activated necessary flood warning alerts on hourly basis across the country on the water level of River Benue and River Niger as well as vulnerability level of the affected areas.
He noted that the Ministry had designed veritable platform that would provide regular and real time information to environmental correspondents on the floor warning alerts without waiting for the ministry.
Salako also said recommendations on long term measures solutions would be presented to the president as part of ongoing efforts towards finding lasting solution to the menace of flooding.
The minister further stressed the resolve of the present administration towards working with the Cameroonian authorities towards ensuring that the impacts of the release of Lagdo Dam floodgate do not lead to loss of lives and property while also mitigating damages
In his remarks, Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Professor Joseph Utsev, tasked Nigerians on the need to take precautions toward clearing drainages while government at all levels play their roles.
He assured that the Ministry will on the long run ensure construction of dams as well as dredge rivers channels the country with the view to ending the menace of annual flooding, which has led to loss of several lives and property.
He added that the Ministry was also meeting with relevant stakeholders at various levels in the bid to controlling the waters, as well curbing the impacts of the flooding.
Meanwhile, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has allayed fears of Nigerians over the planned release of excess water from Lagdo dam by Cameroun which had warned that nine states would be affected.
The agency yesterday, said it was working with critical stakeholders at the federal, states and local government levels to ensure that the release do not cause much negative impacts on the low-lying communities along the states that would be affected.
NEMA in a statement released by its Head of Media and Public Relations, Ezekiel Manzo, stated that it had envisaged the release of excess water from the Lagdo dam and had taken note of the likely impacts and considered it in preparations for mitigation and response to the 2023 flood alert.
“Information available from the flow level of River Benue at Nigerian Hydrological Service Agency (NIHSA) gauging station in Makurdi stood at 8.97 meters as of August 25th, 2023, compared to 8.80 meters on the same date in 2022.
“In contrast, NIHSA has also provided that the flow level of the River Niger system, specifically at Niamey, Niger Republic, remains stable at a normal level of 4.30 meters. Similarly, inland dams including Kainji, Jebba, and Shiroro reported consistent flow regimes.
“With regards to the hydrological station downstream the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers in Lokoja, Kogi State, are currently within normal limits.
“The downstream monitoring station, however, registered a flow level of 7.80 meters on August 25th, 2023, compared to 8.24 meters on the same date in 2022″ it said.
In the meantime, Edo and Benue States have informed residents in lowlands and riverine areas in their respective states about the imminent disaster.
They gave the alert in separate statements yesterday.
For Edo State, residents in lowlands and riverine areas, including those in Agenebode, Anegbete and Ilullshi of Etsako East, Etsako Central and Esan South East local government areas of the state were put on notice to be vigilant and relocate to a higher plain.
Also put on the alert area areas in Ikpoba Okah, Ovia North-East and Ovia South-West local governments
In a statement yesterday, the Edo State Government through its Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, assured residents that it would provide support to those displaced from their homes by the rising water level occasioned by the overflow of the River Benue.
The statement read: “Because we know this is going to happen, we had to move quickly to ensure that our IDP camps are in a good state and the residents adequately briefed and sensitised.”
Also, the Benue State Emergency Management Agency(BSEMA) alerted residents of the state residing at the river banks and flood-prone areas to vacate following alert that Cameroon was set to release water from the Lagdo dam.
The Acting Executive Secretary (ES), James Anodoakaa Iorpuu, who gave the warning in a statement issued yesterday, by the Principal Media Aide to the BSEMA ES, Terfa Anar, said the development followed the release of water from the Lagdo-Dam.
He said the agency has embarked on sensitisation and awareness campaign on the need for people in at least 22 local government areas living around the banks of River Benue to be on alert.
Iorpuu, further called on the residents to move to higher grounds for safety, saying public schools have been designated for them.
The BSEMA boss identified some flood-prone areas within Makurdi, the state capital to include Achusa, Idye, Wurukum market, Genabe, Industrial layout, Demekpe, Wadata market, Rice Mill, Inongun, Agbohough, Judges Quarters, and Gyado Villa.
Also, NEMA yesterday, distributed relief materials to about 19, 752 persons affected by flood across communities in Rivers State.
The distribution exercise which was meant for persons affected by the 2022 flood and the most vulnerable persons in the state, was supervised by the Special National Economic and Livelihood Emergency Intervention (SNELEI) led by Director General of NEMA, Mr. Mustapha Ahmed.
The federal government had approved the intervention specifically for people affected by the 2022 flood disasters and those classified as the most vulnerable persons across the country.
A total of 660, 884 households were verified and targeted to benefit from the special intervention across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Speaking during the distribution of the relief materials in Port Harcourt, the Director General of NEMA, Ahmed said an assessment was carried out by the agency and Rivers State Emergency Management Agency (RSEMA) in the communities and local government areas that was worst hit.
Mustapha, represented by Aikpokpo Ebahi, NEMA Assistant Director and Supervisor SNELEI, Rivers State, revealed that during the assessment period, consideration was given to persons who were displaced and their farmlands and other sources of livelihoods completely inundated.
He said: “Immediately after the flood incident, damage and loss assessment were conducted and relief items approved by the federal government were delivered across the states to complement initial intervention by the state government.
“Based on the assessments which were jointly conducted by the NEMA and State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs), the federal government approved this special intervention to assist vulnerable persons across the country and those affected by the flood to support their quick return to normalcy.”
According to Mustapha, the intervention was also expected to drive the sustainable socio-economic resilience of the targeted most vulnerable individuals.
He said NEMA staff were deployed to conduct the verification of the target beneficiaries in collaboration with personnel from SEMAs, State Agricultural Development Project and other relevant stakeholders.
However, Mustapha advised beneficiaries of the intervention to make proper use of the items to improve their socio-economic conditions.
He said: “The agricultural inputs, such as crop seedlings and equipment are given to take farmers back to the land, stimulate crop production and safeguard our national food security in the middle economic downturn”.
Also speaking, Permanent Secretary of the Rivers State Ministry of Special Duties, Dr. Agiriye Harry, appealed to the federal government agency to make palliatives timely ready so that the victims don’t go through so much sufferings while awaiting succour. He expressed believe that there is already preparation ahead of the 2023 flood.