The Federal Government yesterday warned that the millions of Nigerians across the 314 local government areas may be affected by varying degrees of flooding.
The government through the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) had warned in an Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) to brace for flood-related challenges, The Nation reports.
The Water Resources Minister, Suleiman Adamu, told reporters in Abuja,…“So, I am sure all the states of the federation have environmental laws that guard against what is happening, especially issues like erecting buildings on the watercourse.
“So, I don’t think they need to be reminded of this; they just need to make sure that their agencies are making the necessary surveillance and kind of regulating this development.
“Number two issues like cleaning of drainages and so; I think this is something that everybody should do not only the government at state or local government level, even the community themselves should be involved.
“Why do we have environmental sanitation in many states, it is for them to be able to do this and we know that this thing is going to happen and they are the ones directly affected.
“Why must they wait for the government to come and do this thing for them and what are the local governments doing.
“But let me also say that the Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) we normally provide is not for show. It is serious government’s business to alert the nation of what is likely to come.
“And then it is the responsibility of those sub-national governments to take it up from there.
“We have shared the information with everybody, with all the states. It’s their responsibility to take it down to the local governments.”
Mr Adamu said that the dredging of Rivers Niger and Benue were part of government’s effort at curbing the menace of flood in the country.
“We approved such an idea to dredge Rivers Niger and Benue which we have found very useful and we will do a lot to safeguard the banks of the rivers and the communities downstream from excessive flooding.” the minister said.
“We need to look at a realistic solution to this problem, the dredging of River Benue is very important in addressing this flood issue and we will do something about it.’’
The government, he said, was not only concerned about this year’s flood disaster but the 2012 disaster too and would find permanent solution to Benue incessant flooding.
“The intention of the Federal Government is not just to assist flood victims but also to find ways of providing real opportunities to help Nigerians improve their standard of living,” he assured.
According to the Manager at the International Market Camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, James Iorhuna, no fewer than 4,775 persons have been dislodged from their homes, have registered.
The camp was set up following flood which displaced more than 100,000 persons in 21 local government areas of the Northcentral state.
Iorhuna said, “We have so far registered 1,387 male children, 1,349 female children, 531 men, 642 women, 585 children under the age of five, 92 pregnant women, 115 nursing mothers and 74 physically challenged persons.”
The camp manager said the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) had provided water and 40 toilets at the camp, while other basic needs of the IDPs were being met.
Some states governments, including Lagos, have urged residents to relocate from flood paths to avoid disaster. Lagos is among the states listed by the NIHSA to brace for flooding. The agency advised the state to take proactive measures in 18 local government areas.They are: Badagry, Ojo, Amuwo-Odofin, Apapa, Eti-Osa, Epe, Agege, Mushin, Somolu, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Surulere, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Ibeju-Lekki, Kosofe, Ifako-Ijaye, Ikeja and Ikorodu.
Last week, the Lagos State government, through its Environment Commissioner Babatunde Adejare, advised residents in the listed local governments to find a safer haven, informing them of plans to release water from the Ogun-Osun Dam.
In Delta State, the government is collaborating with the Federal Government and the World Bank to initiate remediation projects in five communities.
It launched yesterday the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), in Asaba. Governor Ifeanyi Okowa said the project will proffer solution to erosion and environmental challenges.
He described as worrisome, the existence of over 100 active erosion and flood ravaged sites in the Southsouth state.
He said, “The World Bank has partnered with us in different areas and we are happy with the development as we are ready to partner with any organisation or individual that is ready to assist our people, especially, those in erosion and flood prone areas, and in the area of our job creation efforts.”
Some of the flood-prone local governments as listed by NIHSA’s annual flood outlook are: Abia’s four local governments of Umuahia South, Umuahia North, Ukwa West and Ukwa East – are to be affected; nine local government areas in Cross River State; six council areas in Ebonyi; 15 and 11 local government areas in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states respectively.
In Ogun State, six local government areas – Abeokuta North, Abeokuta South, Ifo, Obafemi-Owode, Ijebu-East and Ogun Waterside – are to be affected. Sixteen of the 33 local government areas to experience varying dimensions of floods.
At a workshop on AFO in Abuja, the NIHSA Director-General, Dr. Moses Beckley predicted flooding in eight major rivers across the country. He advised residents living in flood prone areas to relocate.
The expected areas of flooding are: Niger, Benue, Sokoto-Rima, Anambra-Imo, Cross River, Niger Delta, Komadougu-Yobe, Ogun-Osun and several other sub-basins of the country.