The fear expressed by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NHISA) that the five states of Edo, Delta, Rivers, Anambra and Bayelsa should be on red alert over flooding is manifesting as no fewer than 3,000 houses in Etsako Central Local Government Area of Edo State were submerged by a devastating flood, following a surge in River Niger due to the release of water from Lagdo dam in Cameroon.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that many hectares of farmlands with cash crops and property worth millions of naira were also destroyed.
Many wonder what the federal and state governments will do to counter the incessant flooding from that axis with the non-co-operation of Nigeria’s eastern neighbour.
At a news conference in Abuja on Monday, Mr. Clement Nze, Director General of NIHSA, said the floods ravaging parts of Adamawa, Taraba, Benue and Kogi States, will likely affect Edo, Delta, Anambra, Rivers and Bayelsa States.
Mr Nze said the cause of the current flooding in northern states is the opening of the Lagdo Dam managed by the Cameroonian government from October 10 to 31.
“After several weeks of denial, the Cameroonian authorities responsible for the operation of the Lagdo Dam confirmed to NIHSA that it released water from the Dam,” he said.
“This was communicated to the NIHSA thus: In any case, it should be noted that this year is an exceptional year in terms of rainfall in the sub-region because it continued to rain up to the usual periods.
“Regarding the Lagdo Dam, the vanes were opened only around October 10, 2019 in anticipation of floods upstream, and would like to inform you that that the floodgates of the Lagado Dam have been closed for the rainy season campaign since yesterday …,’’ he said.
He said the current development of the non-disclosure of information on the operation of the Lagdo Dam runs contrary to the spirit and letter of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two countries in 2015.
“It was after the year 2012 devastating flooding incidents in Nigeria which caused the release of excess water from the Cameroonian dam that the two countries signed the MoU.
“The MoU amongst other things requires that the Cameroonian authorities give adequate and prior notice to Nigeria before release of excess water downstream the dam.
“The non-existence of a dam within the Nigeria portion of the Benue sub-basin makes Nigeria vulnerable in the event of sudden or unannounced release of water from the Lagdo Dam,” he said.
Mr Nze, therefore, said the unannounced release of water by the Cameroonian authorities will imminently have an adverse effect on Nigeria.
He said “as at today, 04-11-2019, the flood level on River Benue measured at Makurdi is 11.28m, as against a much lower of 9.01m on 04-11-2012.
“And the corresponding flood levels downstream the confluence of the two rivers in Lokoja is as follows: 10.97m for 04-11-2019 and 8.04m for 04-11-2012.
“Year 2012 is taken as the reference year considering the magnitude of the flood of that year.
“However, as it could be seen from the above figures, the flood level in each hydrological station as at today is far above the corresponding value in 2012,” he said.
The DG also said that both Kainji and Jebba Dams on River Niger in Lokoja are still excess water downstream, which has invariably contributed to the rising level of the River Niger in Lokoja.
Mr Nze, therefore, called on the states to be on ‘red alert’ to immediately identify the communities bordering the River Niger and make adequate plans for timely evacuation of people to safe and higher grounds in the event of flooding.
The communities affected in Edo so far are: Anegbette, Udaba, Osomegbe, Ugochi, Ofukpo, Agbaburu, Uzanu and Ifeko.
Some of the victims, who spoke with NAN, blamed the flood on the rise in the water level of the River Niger.
One of the victims, Mr Sunny Emokpa, expressed shock over the incident, saying that the entire communities were now flooded.
“Our farmlands have been destroyed, while houses have been submerged by water, thereby rendering us homeless.
“Our schools are now at the mercy of the flood as pupils have to manage to get to the class, while some are completely out of school as the water had gone beyond what the children can manage. “We are appealing to the Federal and State Governments for help,’’ Emokpa said.
Another victim, Mr Sunny Eshemoboh, told NAN that he lost his entire property to the flood.
“The flood has wreaked havoc on our buildings; as you can see; our houses have been submerged by the flood.
“We are appealing to the relevant authorities to come to our aid,’’ Eshemoboh said.
Mrs Rita Akinabor said that she lost all her farm produce to the flood. “I invested N500,000 in cultivating my farm and I am now worried that just at about harvest time, most of my crops have been washed away by the flood,’’ she said.
The Vice-Chairman of the Local Government Area, Mr Ambrose Akhigbe, said the council had commenced the clean-up of the Federal Government’s resettlement camp for Internally Displaced Persons in Oghomere with the aim of relocating the flood victims to the area.
“The council is doing all it can to relocate the victims after proper cleaning of the buildings to enable them feel at home.
“We have reached out to relevant agencies to provide relief materials to the camp for the affected victims,’’ he said. NAN reports that in 2018, over 1, 000 houses were submerged and hundreds of people displaced by flood in the area.
Reports by NAN