By Danladi Al-Hassan, Andy Chukwu and Kunle Adedoyin
16 states and Federal Capital Territory are currently battling serious flooding as the year’s rainfalls continue to drop in continuous torrents.
However, residents of the affected states: Niger, Ondo Lagos, Edo, Imo, Abia, Jigawa, Adamawa, Delta, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Oyo, Enugu, Kebbi, Nasarawa, and Bauchi are finding it very difficult to cope with the menace as states are badly affected by infrastructural deficit and lack of funds for emergency and disaster management.
The problem might even been compounded as the states have been placed on red alert by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) for more rainfalls.
The NIHSA had warned that the states might witness more flooding as flood from the upper reaches of the Niger Basin comprising Guinea, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Chad and Cameroon would be arriving Nigeria next month.
With the full import of the situation donning of the states, many of them are taking multi-stakeholder steps, including sensitisation and relocation of those living in places regarded as flashpoints, to tackle the problem.
In Lagos State, the state government has ordered the conduct of biometrics in 33 LGAs that may be affected by any natural disaster while the relevant agencies are to embark on massive sensitisation, to enlighten residents on the need to prepare for more rainfall and why they need to clean up their drains in preparation for the season.
Dr Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), said all key stakeholders have been put on red alert and the government is urging those living in flood plains to leave their houses.
Oke-Osanyintolu explained that residents are being implored to engage in proper sanitation and participate in reducing the impact of the flood in the state.
“Since we heard about it, we employed empirical strategy, going through our data and we discovered that of the 57 local governments in our state, 33 councils are prone to experience flooding annually,” he said.
“We have directed that the councils should conduct biometrics for the families that are in living within communities that are vulnerable to flood. This, we believe, is very germane and we have urged those living in flood plains to leave their houses.
“Understanding that when they leave their homes, they need shelter, we immediately renovated and equipped the two relief camps in Agbowa, Ikorodu Local Government and Igando in Igando-Ikotun Local Council Development Area, LCDA, to accommodate victims of natural disasters.
“As we intensify our sensitisation exercise, the Ministry of Health has commenced provision of additional equipment and renovation of the Primary Healthcare Centre, PHCs especially in the vulnerable local governments”. He noted that the series of training has been conducted for emergency workers to reduce the time spent on rescue operations.
“We have put in place a contingency plan and have commenced simulation exercises to reduce time spent in rescuing victims of natural disaster including flooding in Lagos.
“Flood itself comes with secondary challenges. That is why the Ministry of Environment has been repositioned, especially the drainage unit and they have commenced desilting of primary, secondary and tertiary drainages in the state.”
In Oyo State, the state government, through the State Emergency Agency (SEMA) has mapped out strategies to combat flooding.
Governor Seyi Makinde said his government would readily support the implementation of the Ibadan Urban Flood Management and other ongoing intervention projects in the state.
Mr Taiwo Adisa, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, said the government would alert the people about impending flood disasters even though no Ecological fund has been released to the state.
The state government had already established the Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project (lUFMP) as a people-oriented project to confront the incessant and ravaging flood disasters in the state capital. Massive sensitization programme is going on especially in Oke Ogun 1, Oke Ogun 2 and Oyo areas of the state.
In Rivers State, the state government recently met with National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Chairmen of all Local Governments Areas (LGAs,) Permanent Secretaries of six focal ministries and key security agencies to come up with measures against flooding.
Mr. Egwu Damian, NEMA Representative at the meeting convened by the Rivers State Government, assured the state of early information sharing, adducing the reoccurring flooding in the state to its location by the bank of the Atlantic Ocean.Governor Nyesom Wike also created flood response systems in Degema, Onelga, Obio Akpor, Abua/Odua, Ahoada East, Ahoada West, Akuku Toru, Gokana, Opopo, Port Harcourt City, Bonny, Gokanna, Oyigbo and Etche LGAs.
The multi-stakeholders preparedness against flooding in Rivers was a proactive measure with Local Emergency Management Teams at the local government level to enhance prompt response.
Mr. Simon Nwakudu, the Media Assistant to the Governor, said other LGAs would receive attention.
“The government would ensure that residents of flood-prone areas vacate before the floods come. Relevant ministries, namely Environment, Health, Special Duties, Information and Office of the Secretary to the Rivers State Government have been mandated to work with affected Local Government Areas to tackle the predicted flood and mitigate the impact on Rivers people.
In Cross River state, not less than 3000 people had been penciled down for relocation by the state government from flood-prone areas.
Mr Princewill Ayim, Acting Director-General of Cross River State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), said that those living in flood-prone areas have been asked to relocate to upland areas to avoid being swept away by the flood.
“Based on the Nigerian Metrological Agency (NIMET) forecast on flooding which may occur in the state, Governor Ben Ayade asked the Ministry of Lands to make land available to communities that occupy flood-prone areas,” Ayim said.
“The communities are Alesi and Osokora in Ofutop in Ikom LGA, and Ovonum in Obubra LGA.”
He said the directive by the governor is to prevent the kind of flooding experienced in 2012 which swept away Agwagwune community in Biase LGA.
“The decision is in the interest of the people. They cannot resist it because we cannot afford to witness what happened in 2012,” Ayim said.
He explained that the government planned to build permanent houses on the land already earmarked for the people to serve as a camp.
However, he said the state needs assistance to accomplish the relocation exercise.
“Cross River State has the highest number of refugees in the country and with this relocation scheme, we desperately need the assistance of the international community, the federal government and donor agencies,” he said.
Top officials of the state Ministry of Environment hinted that the state has not received any ecological fund this year.
In Nasarawa State, the state government has taken various measures that would mitigate any problem arising from flooding.
This is despite the fact that the state had not accessed any intervention fund for flooding since 2013, when the sum of Four Hundred Million Naira was said to have been received.
Mr Jonathan Kwakaha, Director Flood, Erosion and Land Reclamation Project Coordinator, said most of the projects executed to control erosion and flood in the state since 2014 were done by the state government.
He said Nasarawa State needs intervention funds to enable it to fight erosion and flood disasters.
“Five major sites have been earmarked for flood control in each of the 13 LGAs in the state. The project is huge considering the lean resources of the state,” he said.
“Lafia, the state capital has three flood control projects sites being executed by the state. What the state needs at the moment is intervention fund to enable it to combat the prevailing flood disaster,” he said.
Kwakaha said that Flood Risk Assessment in Akwanga and other LGAs were carried out using rainfall data and the perception of the flood plain dwellers.
In Bauchi State, the State Emergency Agency (SEMA) has disclosed that the state is equipped and ready to control flood in the State.
Kabiru Kobi, the Director of Relief and Rehabilitation of the Agency, said the agency is ready for any eventuality.
“Our state government supports us with all the resources we need to tackle flood, including responding to emergencies and rehabilitating affected people,” he said.
“We are very ready to face any emergency that may arise as a result of the flood in Bauchi State.”
The Imo State Government has already commenced area mapping of places likely to be affected by the flood.
Mr Tony Okere, the State Commissioner for Environment, Tony Okere, said measures are being put in place to mitigate any problem arising from the flood.
“The state government through the Ministry of Environment has mapped out possible areas the flood can occur and we are discussing with NEMA. Apart from that, the state government has set up a task force on flood control,” he said.
The task force consists of professionals from different areas and is headed by Professor Ukachukwu Awuzie.
“This is to ensure that Imo State would not be taken unawares. The committee has submitted an action plan which I am going to look into so that we will not be taken unawares,” Awuzie said.
The NEMA in the state has said it is visiting the already built Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps around Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta LGA to ascertain the level of the problem.
Mr Evans Ugoh, Head of NEMA’s Imo/Abia Operations Office, the agency is well prepared for the situation.
“NEMA is very much prepared. We would be visiting the Internally Displaced Peoples, IDP, camps located at Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta local government areas. Those are the axis the flood will affect. Seven countries would release water to West Africa, and those states at the river banks would be affected which Imo State is included,” Ugoh said.
In Adamawa, the state government is also adopting proactive measures coordinated by its relevant agencies to prevent any likely disaster.
Mr Solomon Kumanga, Director-General, Media and Communication to Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, said communities along the flood-prone areas are been sensitised to relocate to safer zones.
Kumanga said that even before the red alert Adamawa had witnessed one of the worst disasters in its history in which no fewer than 17 people were killed in Yola, the state capital and its environs.
He stated that communities that have hitherto turned deaf ears to appeals to relocate from flood-prone areas owing to cultural beliefs are now prepared to shift their positions.
“This alone is a good development and by the time all the relevant agencies put their strategies together, flooding in Adamawa would be reduced to a manageable level. It is not possible to eliminate flooding, but it can be controlled,” he said.
Kumanga said the Cameroonian authorities have not alerted the state on the possibility of releasing excess water from the Lagdo Dam, maintaining that government is confident that Cameroun would at the appropriate time notify the state as he appealed to the federal government to give special intervention fund to the state.
Meanwhile, Dr Mohammed Sulaiman, the Executive Secretary, Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency (ADSEMA), has identified eight LGAs that are prone to flooding.
These are Yola North, Yola South, Fufore, Demsa, Numan, Lamurde, Shelleng, and Guyuk.
Likewise, the Kebbi State Government has held several meetings with stakeholders on how to contain flood disaster.
Governor Abubakar Bagudu has approved N200 million for the purchase of relief items for those already displaced by the flood.
He also directed SEMA to convene a meeting with relevant stakeholders on how best to address the menace.
Abass Kamba, the Executive Director, SEMA, said officials of NHSA visited Kebbi and had a meeting with the officials of emergency agencies of Kebbi, Sokoto, Katsina and Niger states.
Kamba revealed that flooding was discussed to proffer solutions on how to tackle the menace.
‘’We have convened a stakeholders meeting where we intimated the public on the imminent flooding.’’ Kamba identified the most affected LGAs as Dandi, Kalgo, Koko/Besse, Suru, Aleiro, Bagudo, Augie, Birnin Kebbi, Ngaski, Shinga, Bunza, and Argungu.
He disclosed that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and officials of SEMAs from 36 states of the federation would hold a meeting in Kebbi.
Meanwhile in Taraba State, the Taraba State Emergency Management Agency (TSEMA) has disclosed that it has identified 11 out of the 16 LGAs in the state which may be affected by flooding.
Nuvalga Danhabu, Permanent Secretary of TSEMA, explained that the government agency has issued a red alert to communities identified.
“11 local government areas in the state have River Benue and other rivers’ tributaries flowing through them,” Danhabu said.
“Because of the torrential rainfall that is expected, we have sponsored jingles on the radio to inform communities around those rivers of the potential dangers ahead.
“Because of the paucity of funds we have not embarked on any advocacy visit for now.
“We have also advised those, who have family members to alert their people in those areas to evacuate the vulnerable, especially women and children so that it wouldn’t take them unawares.’’
In Jigawa, this year rainy season has brought untold hardship for several communities across the state with flood which accompanied the rains from the overflow of the bank of River Hadejia.
Already, six lives had been reported lost with 2,000 houses and hectares of farmlands affected.
The local governments affected include Ringim, Miga, Auyo, Kafin-Hausa, Kirikasamma, and Guri.
The State Government has disclosed that it would consider sending a supplementary budget to the House of Assembly if the need arises to provide all necessary and optional needs by the floods victims in the state.
Governor Badaru Abubakar, through his Deputy, Alhaji Umar Namadi, stated this during a visit to those displaced by flood in Guri town, Miga and Kaugama.
The flood in Niger State has left many houses submerged. Two LGAs, Chanchaga and Bosso were gravely affected.
Many of the displaced people are yet to be resettled as some take refuge in Mosques, and Churches.
The Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA) has warned against the possible outbreak of an epidemic.
Alhaji Ibrahim Inga, Director-General of the Agency, said the agency is trying to locate a place to resettle the victims.
“What the government can only do now is to look for a temporary site, either a school or a public building for those whose houses collapsed to stay pending when they can go back home,” Inga said.
“If we start establishing an IDP camp even those who have places to lay their heads would come to the camp. We can only support those who have needs for foodstuffs and beddings pending when we will come up with our final recommendations.’’
In Delta State, Mr Christian Onogba, the Commissioner for Environment, said that the state government is looking at the two causes of flooding.
“We are advocating for attitudinal change. Let people change their ways of doing things. If you build on the natural waterway, when the rains come, water will always find its way. It becomes a problem. “advocacy is ongoing. Flooding is inevitable. It must come,” Onogba said.
“Communities are already writing to us to visit them. We are visiting communities. We are going to clear all the drains. The rainstorm drains this government is constructing, by the time they are completed, they will help to mitigate the effect of the flood.”
Onogba revealed that the Ecological Fund takes time to get to the states.
“The ecological funds don’t come at your request. If you have a site where you want to deploy ecological funds, you do a design that would be supervised by the World Bank and it takes time to approve. It takes a whole lot to get a penny from Ecological Funds. This ministry is in the process when it eventually comes, this administration is very transparent. The world will know.
“A committee is about being set up by the state government to identify sites and IDP camps where we will take people that will be eventually displaced because some of these persons living along coastal lines are living almost below the poverty line.’’
He assured that the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) is ready to handle the situation.
“I can tell you that SEMA is very ready. A few days ago, a Commissioner was inaugurated and given the responsibilities of SEMA.’’