How Aisha Buhari, NEMA, States are battling destructive flood

Chuks Oyema-Aziken

CHUKS OYEMA-AZIKEN writes that flood is already causing damage in some states of the federation.

As predicted, several states in Nigeria are already experiencing the devastating effects of flooding.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) recently stated that nearly half a million people are currently affected by flooding in 8 states of the country with at least 108 people dead and 192 injured.

According to NEMA statistics, Anambra has 64,331 people affected, Benue 2,201, Delta 37,017, Edo 31,113, Kebbi 94,991, Kogi 118,199, Kwara 41,680 and Niger 51,719.

A total of 13,031 houses have been damaged or destroyed. As of 24 September there were 141,369 people displaced by the floods. NEMA says there is an urgent need for food and non-food relief items.

The 2020 floods as in the previous years is trailed by sad stories.

At least three people are dead or missing in Kwara, 100 houses destroyed in Akwa Ibom. In Kwara, a bridge embankment collapsed in Oko-Erin, killing one person.

Borno and Adamawa have about 300,000 people facing threat to their homes and livelihoods.

During his visit to Bauchi, NEMA Director-General, Air Vice Marshal Muhammad A. Muhammed (rtd), was informed by his host, Governor, Bala Mohammed, that no fewer than 25 persons lost their lives while 17 others sustained injuries as a result of flood in the state.

The governor said that properties, farmlands and houses worth almost N950 million, excluding infrastructural facilities, over 3,500 houses and over 2,190 farmlands were destroyed by flood in the affected local governments.

In Jigawa State, no fewer than 24 lives have been lost, according to the Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Alhaji Yusuf Sani Babura.

He said 50 houses have been washed away by the flood.

Babura said SEMA had commenced the distribution of some relief items, which include food, drugs, and other materials.

In Maruta town in Gwaram Local Government Council, a victim said that about 3,000 houses have been washed away in the town.

Also, some parts of the town have been relocated, and an IDP camp created to take care of the peoples’ urgent needs, while a woman was reported to have delivered a baby in the camp.

Apart from Gwaram, other local governments that experienced heavy flooding include Birnin Kudu.

In Kogi State, the ever busy Lokoja -Ajaokuta road, is in danger of been cut off as flash flood from the River Niger affect free flow of traffic.

Flood has also covered a section of the road at Ganaja village, affecting movement of road users.

Residents living at Ganaja village, Jingbe , Elete, and other adjoining communities are also been having a tough time driving through the flood for the past few days.

People living in Adankolo, Sarkin Noma, Galilee, Kpata, and other flood-prone areas in Lokoja have been forced to flee their homes because of the flooding.

In Abari Community in Patani Local Government Area of Delta State, there is palpable fear, tension and anxiety as over fifty houses have been wiped away into the River Niger.

The people are in agony as their major occupation, fishing, farming and trading is under threat.

As the flood continue to wreck havoc, the NEMA DG, AVM Muhammed (Rtd.) has urged state emergency management agencies to sensitise residents and be ready to evacuate communities.

The DG also wants state governments to organise state humanitarian coordination forum meetings in order to prepare stakeholders for mitigation and response to floods when they hit.

He further advised “that refuse, weeds, water hyacinths should be removed from drainages, water channels and all avenues for river run-offs so as to allow free flow of flood waters.

On his part, Clement Onyeaso Nze, Director General, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, NIHSA, has warned that the River Niger flood level on Thursday, 10th September attained an unprecedented level, leaving the states vulnerable to the disaster.

This gives cause for concern for Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Delta, Edo, Rivers and Bayelsa states which are contiguous to the River Niger, Nze stated.

“This flood magnitude sighted in Niamey on August 23, 2020, is expected to arrive in Nigeria through Kebbi State around September 6, 2020,” Nze added.

“The effect of all these is that communities in the states adjoining River Niger will continue to be highly inundated by River flooding as being witnessed in the recent time”, he warned.

He however regrets that despite the warning, urban and flash floods have continued to wreck havoc in many states including the FCT.

“As at date, not less than 172 LGAs in all states are counting their losses due to flood incidents”, Nze said.

Warning further that the country still has many weeks of rainfall in the course of the year, he advised that blocked drainages and gutters be cleared, river channels dredged and structures within the waterways and floodplains and flood paths pulled down.

The state governments are not keeping quiet in the face of destruction trailing the flood.

Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello like he did in 2018, continue to work with the federal government not only to bring relief to impacted areas, but making conceited efforts at tackling environmental challenges including flooding across the state.

NIHSA had predicted that in 2020, about 10 local government areas of Lokoja, Kogi/Kotonkarfe, Ajaokuta, Bassa, Ibaji, Idah, Igalamela, Ofu, Adavi and Omala would be affected by flood.

Kogi State Commissioner for Environment, Victor Omofaiye, said the Governor Yahaya Bello administration would not relent in its efforts at tackling the challenges.

He acknowledged that many communities in some local government areas in the state had been ravaged by floods.

Mr Omofaiye said such communities included places in Kotonkarfe, Lokoja, Ajaokuta and Ibaji local government areas.

The state created IDP camps for victims of the disaster and they have already been moved there. The camps are in Kotonkarfe and in Lokoja.

”The water level of River Niger is still fluctuating within the range of 10.5 to 10.7, but as at September 21, it was 10.7 compared to the 12.5 as at the same period in 2012 in Kogi.

”Flood is a menace that we experience in Kogi every year. The flood we experienced in Kogi in 2012 was massive and devastating; we do not pray for such in 2020, but we are actually on red alert,’’ the commissioner said.

The Commissioner attributed flooding in the state to human and natural factors.

He said some of the residents are in the habit of dumping refuse on waterways and drains, thereby obstructing free flow of water.

”Opening of dams, especially along River Niger, such as Lagdo Dam from Cameroon and other dams also cause flooding in Kogi due to high volume of water.

”We have done a lot of sensitisation and awareness creation to educate the general public, especially the people living in the flood prone areas in all the predicted local government areas.

”We are also partnering with the relevant stakeholders including SEMA to ensure that we are ahead of any emerging situation,” he said.

In Sokoto State where hundreds of villages have been submerged by the flood while farmlands, livestock and infrastructure were also lost, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said that his administration is set to construct three earth dams in the areas worst hit by the flood.
The Kebbi State Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, has also visited flood ravaged areas in Augie, Argungu and Arewa local government communities, to asses rice farmlands, roads and bridges affected by the flood.

The 2020 flood has also attracted the attention of the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, as she has called on Nigerians to support victims of flood across the country, to cushion the effect of the disaster.

Through her Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), the Future Assured Initiative, victims of flood in Kogi and Niger State have benefitted from the distribution of relief materials.

Represented by her Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Aliyu Abdullahi, said the gesture was part of her passion to provide support for the needy in the society.

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