25 million Nigerians in danger of flood disaster

Chima Ugwuanyi

30 November 2012, Sweetcrude, Enugu – Even as the rains may have subsided, there are fears that no fewer than 25 million Nigerians living along coastal communities of Rivers, Niger, Benue, Sokoto, Katsina Lagos, Ondo, Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Cross River states in Nigeria, are exposed to possible displacement and devastation, according to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.

Investigations reveal that the failure of the Nigerian government to explore proactive measures in tackling perennial flood in some disaster-prone northern states, block drains and water channels, creating harrowing ripple effects of erosion in the South-East region and some states in the Niger Delta region.

Already, more than 38,228 persons have been displaced in Kano, Jigawa, Cross River, Taraba, Adamawa Niger and Anambra states, while about 160 individuals were confirmed dead in the last two weeks, with over 59 communities sacked, when torrential rains wreaked havoc in some states of the federation, most especially in the North.

Besides, shedding of excess water from local dams and from neighbouring African countries, such as Cameroon, predispose the nation to flood disasters, especially given that government failed to take concrete steps, aimed at averting such.

Further discharge of water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon, which had already displaced more than 12,000 persons in the state, may wreak havoc if urgent steps were not taken by government, NAN quoted Mr Vincent Aquah, Director-General of the Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, as saying in Calabar.

“We have a large volume of water coming in as a result of the discharge of water from Cameroon’s Lagdo Dam and it is the manifestation of what we had earlier been warned against,” he said, adding “there was an invasion of reptiles, including, crocodiles and snakes, in many communities.”

These developments came, just as the Presidential Committee on Flood, led by Hadiza Mailafiya, who is also the Minister for Environment, paid unscheduled visits to some states in the North-East, including Jigawa, where over 400,000 farmlands and 36,000 houses were destroyed by flood disaster.

The visits, it was gathered, were to evaluate the extent of human
and material losses and how the Federal Government could mitigate the worsening effects of the natural disaster.

Receiving the Presidential Committee on Flood in Dutse, the governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido, said “floods have wreaked havoc in the 18 local governments and displaced persons are either being haboured by relatives or have taken refuge in public buildings” He lamented that his state was on the verge of being submerged by flood with a total length of 250 kilometres currently under water.

Apparently confirming the looming danger of the downpour as fallout of the global climate change, credible source close to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, said about 25 million people living in coastal regions of the country were at risk of the devastation of floods. The coastal areas of Lagos, Ondo, Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states have experienced severe flooding impacts since the beginning of the rainy season, due to factors such as absence of surface drains and blockage of existing drains with municipal waste, refuse and eroded soil sediments.

Earlier report from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NIMET, had alerted that there would be an “above normal” rainfall in strategic parts of the country which might lead to flooding incidents in 12 states of the federation.”

According to the report endorsed by Eleazar Obende, of NIMET Public Relations Unit, “the states likely to be affected are Lagos, Ogun, Delta, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Katsina, and Jigawa.

A critical look at towns and cities in the country reveals that they are generally characterised by poor drains and are, therefore, prone to flooding, particularly cities like Lagos, Ibadan, Aba, Calabar, Maiduguri and Port Harcourt.

In the South-East, the growing menace of erosion has further aided the harrowing effects of flooding as communities and villages have been severed from urban centres.

From Enugu comes a report that eight communities were recently cut off as a result of heavy rains, adding that villages grossly affected include Mmaku, Mgbidi, Awgu-nta, Ugwueme, Nkwe, Ezele and Obuagu.

A village head of Gonin-Gora, in Kaduna State, Mr Yusuf Doma, disclosed that no fewer than 60 buildings were affected and 180 families dislocated in his area alone.

In Anambra State, about 21 communities, namely Oroma Etiti, Ezi-Anam, Umunze-Anam, Umuoba- Anam, Nmiata, Inuoma, Okwalla, Okwalla, Owelle, Igbokanyi, among others, have been destroyed by flood disaster.

About the Author