By Mashe Umaru Gwamna and Lawrence Olaoye Abuja
The Director-General, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr Yunusa Maihaja, has urged state governments and stakeholders to prepare for eminent flooding following signals from the Niger Republic.
Maihaja made the call on Wednesday in Abuja during a flood coordination meeting with government agencies, United Nations agencies and relevant stakeholders.
However, the Federal Government has in a swift reaction said that it was prepared to mitigate the effects of an impending flood in some parts of the country following an alert from the Niger Republic that River Niamey has increased considerably.
According to Maihaja, the meeting was organised to support planning and information sharing on priority areas of need to respond to the plight of affected communities.
“The meeting was also to ensure proper humanitarian intervention and coordination and increase preparedness against eminent flooding. “Relevant agencies have already been informed on the alert by the Niger Republic River Basin Authority that the Dam at that end is already full to orange level alert and that gives us serious concern.
“The Dams and rivers downstream in Nigeria are also full particularly the ones in Benue, Lokoja and Kebbi and it is important to note that the three Dams downstream in Nigeria, Kanji, Jebba and Shiroro have started spilling water. “By our record today, flood has affected 27 States while Windstorm and rainstorm have affected 10 States in Nigeria.
“Early in the year, NEMA had written to warn 26 States that were told would likely be affected by flood this year and the Agency embarked on flood jingles on Television, radio and sensitisations,” Maihaja said. Maihaja said that State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs) and some stakeholders lack adequate capacity, preparedness and resources, which make them weak to respond to disasters when they occur.
He, however, called on State governments and stakeholders to step up preparedness against the flood prediction to reduce the level of destruction of properties and avoid loss of lives. The director-general said that NEMA had responded to many of the flood disasters by delivering relief materials to victims of the flood with its officials still in Benue and Kogi States supporting the SEMAs in their responses.
Maihaja said that the agency would go beyond humanitarian intervention and would not relent in providing support to States in the areas of capacity building and emergency preparedness. Also speaking, Mr Clem Nze, Director, Engineering Hydrology, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NHISA) reiterated urgent preparedness on the part of Nigeria as the flood alert from Niger shows worse flooding than the recent one that affected some states.
He said that it was important for the government to swing into action immediately to avoid worse flooding than that of 2012 because the current volume of water in rivers Niger and Benue is more than it was same time in 2012.
Nze said that to avoid future reoccurrence, Nigeria should build more Dams to take in waters from major rivers as this could also help in boosting power, irrigation and so much more. In his remarks, Prof. Dani Mashi, Director- General, Nigerian Metrological Agency (NiMet) said that in March, the Agency in its Seasonal Rainfall Prediction predicted high intensity rainfall in parts of the country with advice on adequate preparedness to relevant agencies.
Mash, who was represented by Mr Joseph Alozie, General Manager, Climate Services, NiMet said that the agency had not gone to sleep as it does daily, weekly and monthly monitoring with analysis to forewarn against eminent dangers.
He urged NEMA to increase its sensitisation, especially in flood prone states and called on state governments to enforce relocation of those in flood prone areas.
Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, gave the Federal Government’s assurance allaying fears yesterday at an interaction with journalists after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Adamu said “Brief on the incident of flood, Niamey the capital of Niger Republic has put the country on alert. The levels of the River in Niamey has increased considerably and the country is at alert at the moment.
“That is an indication that there will be more flood into the river Niger downstream towards Kanji, Jebba and of course by the time you come down on confluence at Lokoja the situation will be compounding because you are already aware of the flood situation in Benue.
“The good thing is that we have an observatory in Niamey and another one in Lokoja to give us that real time, per second updates on the water level.
“So we are monitoring the situation and I briefed council on our efforts to monitor the situation which we are doing. For now there is no course for alarm. “