After a flood disaster that has claimed not less than 600 lives in the last few months, President Muhammadu Buhari has given the marching Orders to the Minister of Water Resources to lead and coordinate with the Ministries of Environment and Transportation as well as State Governments to develop a Comprehensive Plan of Action for Preventing Flood Disaster in Nigeria.
According to the Presidency in a statement on Monday by one of the President’s spokesmen, Mr. Garba Shehu, the directive, which was conveyed to the Minister in a letter signed by his Chief of Staff, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, said the Plan should be presented to the President in 90 days.
Garba disclosed that President Buhari is regularly receiving updates on the flooding situation in the country and restates his commitment towards addressing the challenges caused by the disaster in the country.
Everyday.ng recalls that as at last week 630 Nigerians were reported to have died, 1.3 million displaced, and 2,407 persons injured in the this year’s flooding that has affected 2.5 million persons.
Worse, about 121,318 houses were partially damaged, 82,053 houses were totally damaged, 108,392 hectares of farmlands were partially damaged and 332,327 hectares of farmlands were totally damaged.
Accusing fingers were pointed in the direction of Cameroonian authorities, which allegedly released water from their Lagdo Dam, but the Minister of Water Resorces, Mr. Suleiman Adamu, is of the opinion that the contribution of the Dam to this year’s is minimal.
But cecent floods killed at least 50 persons in 11 communities in Adamawa and injured 71 others, the Executive Secretary of Adamawa Emergency Management Agency (ADSEMA), Malam Suleiman Mohammed, said.
He blamed the flooding on the release of water from Lagdo Dam in neighbouring Cameroon.
The minister advised Nigerians to stop blaming water released from Lagdo dam in Cameron as the major cause of flood in Nigeria, stressing that 80 percent of the floods in Nigeria was caused by rainfall and not Cameroon’s Lagdo dam as widely believed.
Adamu said:“All these stories I’ve been seeing on social media, I just laugh, because they are misleading.
“The contribution of the Lagdo dam to flooding in this country is only one percent. Sometimes they release the water without notice and when they do that, it has impact on communities downstream.
“But it is not the main reason we have floods in this country — 80 percent of the floods in this country is water that we are blessed with from God from the sky.
“This year’s flood, I can assure you, we cannot blame it on Cameroon to be sincere.
“We’ll continue to have floods on the river Niger and Benue basins. We signed the MOU with the Cameroonian authorities but since then, every year, it is the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) that calls them ‘what is your level in Lagdo? “
“Even this one when he called them, I was communicating with the DG NIHSA, I said ‘what’s happening in Cameroon?’ He said he has been calling them and they said they have not released any water but they said they will inform us.
”Finally, they said they will inform us tomorrow, they didn’t inform us, they informed us 24 hours after they had released the water”.
“They did the same thing two years ago, I wrote to the minister of foreign affairs and Nigeria had to write a protest letter to the Cameroonian authorities that they did not inform us.
“It was after our rains had gone down, suddenly we saw floods in Adamawa area and we were asking them. For two weeks, they were denying that they had opened the reservoir. Of course, it didn’t go to the confluence, it was limited to the areas of Adamawa state and Taraba. Because like I said, the contribution to the flood by Lagdo dam is not so high.”
The discouraging figures of deaths and destruction were given by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, in Abuja on the last week Sunday President Muhammadu Buhari blamed buildings on water channels, disregard for early warning by the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and the changes to weather caused by climate change as chiefly to blame for the floods that have so far hit 33 of the nation’s 36 states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory which has not been spared either.
The President also directed all concerned to work for the restoration of normalcy throughout the affected parts of the federation.
Disclosing plans by government to meet with its Cameroonian counterpart over the release of water from Lagdo Dam, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, however called on state governments to put more efforts on the evacuation of flood victims to higher grounds, adding “while we mourn the unfortunate boat mishap in Anambra and other locations, please, we must note that we are not completely out of the woods.”
She says that the Meteorological Agencies are warning that States like Anambra, Delta, Cross River, Rivers and Bayelsa are still at the risk of experiencing floods up till end of November.
“So, we are calling on the respective State Governments, LGAs and Communities to prepare by evacuating people living on flood plains to high grounds, providing tents and relief materials, fresh water as well as medical supply for possible outbreak of water borne disease”.
According to her, on Feb. 15, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) released the 2022 Seasonal Climate Prediction informing Nigerians that the rains of 2022 will be heavier and longer.
She also states that on May 12, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency released the Annual Flood Outlook.
Her words: “Immediately after these two releases, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was all out in the media and went to all States and FCT.
“NEMA warned of expected floods and advised on mitigating and preparedness actions needed to take to minimize losses and damages.
“I also briefed the National Economic Council on Sep.22, where I outlined preparedness strategies that all State Governments should take to mitigate the 2022 floods.
“I have laid this background so that you will appreciate the concern of this Ministry, that despite all these efforts, we still appear to have become overwhelmed by the flood when it came.
“However, we must initiate a bilateral discussion with authorities in Cameroon in November on the periodic opening of the Lagdo dam.
“The delegation to Cameroon is to be led by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be requested to facilitate the meeting.”
According to her, there was enough warning and information about the 2022 flood but States, Local Governments and Communities appeared not to take heed.
“There is the need for State Governments to invest in flood management and lead on community based flood early warning systems; hence we called on State Governments to take greater responsibilities for flood preparedness and response.
“We are calling on the respective State Governments, LGAs and Communities to prepare by evacuating people living on flood plains to high grounds, providing tents and relief materials, fresh water as well as medical supply for possible outbreak of water borne disease”.