Rainy season is supposed to be a blessing to farmers, others, but recently rivers have started overflowing their banks, with citizens losing their lives and property to flooding.
Thousands have been sacked from their homes and crops washed away from farms; which portends danger to the food needs of the country.
PAUL OKAH looks at the impending national disaster.
Natural disasters are not new to mankind, especially as the human race has had to battle one problem or the other in the race to survive.
However, the flooding of many communities and cities across the country in this year’s rainy season may tempt many to wonder if God is not angry with the world and replicating what happened in Noah’s time.
This is because, from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Bayelsa and other states, residents now count their losses, owing to the flooding of homes and farmlands by what, otherwise, should be a blessing to mankind.
Many are still being sacked from their homes by floods, occasioned by continuous downpours, even as hunger looms.
Flood kills 4 in Abuja On Saturday June 2, this year, floods killed four persons in Karshi, a suburb of the FCT.
The victims were said to be inside a Toyota Siena when the flood swept the vehicle away during a downpour.
Ambrose Umelelle (26) and Esther Aka (20), residents of Kokosu community in Nasarawa state, lost their lives in the incident.
The two were among the four whose vehicle was carried away by the flood.
One of the passengers was, however, lucky as he was reported to have jumped out of the vehicle to safety.
Searches by the Search and Rescue team of the FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) yielded results when they recovered the dead bodies the following Sunday morning, as well as the Toyota Siena, Space-wagon in which they were travelling.
The Acting Deputy Director, Forecasting, Response and Mitigation, FEMA, Mrs Florence Wenegieme, said the river bisecting the community and neighbouring Nasarawa State had risen above its banks; on account of massive rains and the consequent flood from the neighbouring hills: overwhelming the box culverts and overflowing the roads.
She added that many road users had been forced to wait on the banks of the flood, but that the driver of the Siena wanted to try his luck, leading to their being washed away in the flood.
Nevertheless, the Chief of Karshi community, Alhaji Ismaila Mohammed, dispelled insinuations that the incident was caused by a burst dam.
He said: “The dam is still intact and still under construction.
This kind of flood has never been witnessed in this community.
The weather has been very erratic.
We, in the community, would embark on measures to ensure that the roads are safeguarded during heavy rains until a permanent solution is found.” Flood sacks Benin City residents Similarly, on Wednesday, last week, residents of Benin City, the capital of Edo state, had their fair share of the natural disaster, as many of them were displaced from their homes by floods.
The areas affected included: Federal High Court, premises of the state headquarters of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), parts of the Government Reserved Area (GRA), Igiede Street (off Erediauwa Street in Ikpoba-Okha local government area of the state).
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the rain, which started at about 6a.m.
on that fateful day, did not stop until about noon.
Four elderly persons were almost drowned inside their rooms, following the downpour, but were miraculously rescued and taken to a nearby hospital by neighbours.
Nevertheless, the flood killed over 8,000 birds at a poultry farm at Igiede Street, forcing the owner of the poultry to resort to selling the dead birds for N500 each.
Residents protested the submerging of over 50 houses in eight streets.
The angry residents blocked the road and turned motorists back, as the road had been in a bad shape until recent construction works that started on the road, which the people now blame for their woes.
Edo residents recount woes A resident of the street, a retired soldier, Sergeant Solomon Erhabor, who was affected by the flood, wept profusely and said that the house he lost to the flood was his only benefit from the Nigerian Army.
He attributed the flood to the construction of the road and the poor side-drainage and lamented that the contractor ought to have channelled the flood to a nearby moat, but that he refused to do so; in order to avoid paying compensation.
Similarly, another resident, Mrs.
Margaret Imade, noted that casualties would have been recorded if the rain had fallen at night.
She said she was preparing the morning meal when a great volume of water entered her house.
She pleaded with government to come to their aid, as they had been living in their houses for over 40 years before the flooding.
Also speaking, Mrs.
Elizabeth Imadonmwonyi called on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to send relief materials to them, because they now live like refugees, even as the Commissioner for Infrastructure, Mr.
Abraham Amielomen, promised to send a team to ascertain the level of damage.
Lives lost, food security threatened in Niger Similarly, the Director-General of the Niger state Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA), Alhaji Ibrahim Inga, said 14 persons died by drowning, while attempting to escape the flood that submerged 17 local government areas in the state, last week.
He, however, said the Agency has already beefed up sensitisation for the people to evacuate high risk areas, as the flood disaster has become more severe due to heavy rains.
Inga also said the state “is ranked second as frontline flood state in the country” and that the “government of Niger state has recruited over 200 local divers for rescue operations to save lives as flood ravages.” According to him, the situation could cause post-harvest losses as farmers might be unable to meet up with the obligation of repaying the loans obtained.
Inga lamented that 80% of rice farmlands at Gima in Lavun local government, belonging to the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme “is currently under water; due to flooding.” “Flood is threatening the various federal and state government agricultural programmes in the state.
“We have also expended N11.8 million on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Bosso and Paikoro, another N11.5 million on skills acquisition for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the troubled North-east and N17 million for flood sensitisation and awareness campaign in the riverine communities in the years under review,” he said.
Lives, farm produce lost in Kano In a reaction, the Kano state chapter of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) said flood killed some of its members and washed away hundreds of hectares of rice plantations in five local government areas of the state.
Its chairman, Abubakar Haruna Aliyu, who disclosed this during a press conference held at the RIFAN state’s secretariat recently, listed the affected local government areas as Warawa, Gabasawa, Minjibir, Gaya and Dawakin Kudu.
“A lot of farm lands, majority of which are rice plantations, have been washed away by the recent flooding, as a result of the heavy downpour being experienced recently.
We have received disturbing reports that some of our members lost hundreds of hectares of rice plantations, animals and lives were also lost,” he said.
He said officials of the associations had been redeployed to compile the list of affected members and quantify the losses.
“For the fact that most of our members are under the CBN anchor borrower programme, we are presently compiling a comprehensive report on the damages done which we will present to our national body for further action in respect to the agreement reached with the Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Company (NAIC) and as soon as we are through, we will present our report,” he said.
Ebonyi community sacked Furthermore, a downpour that lasted nearly three hours on Saturday, July 28, this year, sacked residents of Amasiri community in Afikpo North local government area of Ebonyi state, with many of them suffering one economic loss or the other.
The communities affected include: Nde Agwu, Ezimbe and Ohaukwu, all in Poperi, Amasiri.
Other places include SARS office, God’s Descendants Assembly Int’l Church and Amaoko Ohaechara.
Amaechara Ezeke and Amaukwa Ndukwe were also flooded.
Recounting the incident to Blueprint Weekend, a resident, Okochi Chukwu Obeni, said the flood could be attributed to blockage of the drainage system in the affected communities by the waste randomly disposed by residents.
One of the victims of the flood, the senior pastor of God’s Descendants Assembly Int’l, Apostle Sylvester Ugo, expressed shock over the whole incident, saying it was not up to two hours that he had left the church after the rain, only to receive a phone call that the whole church had been flooded.
He called on the appropriate authorities to help them to open up the drainages from Amasiri Junction, through SARS office, for easy flow of water; as the mega beer depot had also blocked the water ways.
Another resident and owner of Covenant Block Industry, Elder Michael Okoezi, also expressed his dismay over the incident, as the flood destroyed his blocks and swept off about five trips of sand.
He also called on government agencies to help and open up the drainages.
10 perish in Kebbi In the same vein, Daily Trust newspaper reported on Monday, this week, that flood caused by heavy rainfall in Kebbi state, last week, killed 10 persons, including a soldier.
According to the paper, the remains of five of the victims were recovered after the downpour at Kanya in Danko Wasagu and Mahuta in Fakai local government areas of the state.
The soldier was said to have died while trying to rescue a woman from the flood.
The village head of Kanya, Alhaji Isah Dan Hassan, said many houses and property, including livestock and farmlands, were destroyed by the flood.
The chairman of Fakai local government, Musa Rabiu Jarma, in his reaction, said the bridge linking the town had collapsed, which paved the way for over 48 houses to be destroyed.
Rivers overflowing banks On Saturday, September 1, this year, while addressing newsmen in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital, the Head of Operations of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in charge of Abuja and Kogi state, Mr.
Bitrus Samuel, said people should prepare for more flooding this year, “because distortion in the pattern of rainfall has led to River Niger, River Benue and other rivers across the country to start overflowing their banks.” He urged those living at river banks in Kogi state to evacuate to higher grounds, saying that the “water level in River Niger is almost at 9-centimetre; which will ultimately lead to flooding in Lokoja and other eight local government areas in Kogi state.” Samuel, who said the flood “may come anytime from now,” further urged those living at river banks to evacuate, noting that the impending flood was “due to intensity and duration of rainfalls currently being witnessed in different parts of the country.” Preparedness of agency Furthermore, Samuel, however, said the agency and other stakeholders were yet to determine the “exact time and day that the flood will hit Lokoja,” and described it as a “receptacle of floods from other rivers.” “Flood usually comes in the night when people are fast asleep.
We are asking people living on flood plains to leave as the ground has become so saturated that its percolation and absorption levels have reduced considerably,” he said.
Samuel, who later met with other stakeholders to discuss their level of preparedness for the impending flood, evacuation plans and rescue strategies being put in place by them and the state government, further charged them to “immediately commence education and enlightenment of residents on the impending flood,” which, according to him, has the greatest damage potential of all disasters.
The NEMA official advised the state government and other stakeholders to “immediately identify high grounds, establish camps and pre-position drugs, foods and non-food items in readiness for the flood.” Samuel also called on them to “discourage violation of town planning laws, check dumping of refuse in rivers and poor drainage system and control location of settlements along river banks to mitigate effects of flooding.” Nationwide assessment On Thursday, August 30, this year, in a statement in Abuja, the Director of Engineering Hydrology in the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), Mr.
Clement Nze, said the middle Niger portion of the Niger Basin (Niger Republic) experienced high flood last week and raised the alarm over looming flood, especially for those living at the banks of River Niger and its floodplains.
The agency said seven states are at risk, namely, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Anambra, Delta and Bayelsa.
Nze said: “The flood has advanced into the lower Niger (Nigeria).
Accordingly, both Kanji and Jebba dams are already spilling water downstream.
The level of water in Lokoja as at today, in the downstream confluence is 8.69 metres.
This value has exceeded the corresponding value of 8.57 metres that occurred on August 8, 2012.
“Meanwhile, the flooding that occurred in Kaduna on August 23-24, 2018, has started arriving Shiroro Dam, built on River Kaduna.
In the event that Shiroro Dam equally starts spilling water, that will portend more danger downstream.
Inflows contribution from River Benue is equally advancing.
Lagdo Dam is still impounding water.” Kogi govt reacts While addressing newsmen on the flood situation in Kogi state, the Deputy Governor, Mr.
Simon Achuba, said the state had always responded promptly and adequately to disasters, and that the impending flood will not be an exception.
Achuba, who was represented by the Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr.
Idris Omade, therefore, directed staff to immediately activate their emergency management committees, asking them to organise similar stakeholders’ meetings.
The Executive Secretary of the Kogi State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mr.
Alhassan Ayegba, in his reaction, said the agency was fully on alert for the impending flood, and that it was expanding its frontier of response to emergency.
Ayegba also said officials of the agency, other relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and other stakeholders had been deployed to communities that are likely to be affected to educate and sensitise residents on the impending flood.
The stakeholders at the meeting/workshop are representatives from the Fire Service, Nigeria Medical Association, Red Cross, security agencies, paramilitary agencies, religious groups, and civil society groups.
FCT warns During his condolence visit to the families of the victims of the Karshi flood in June, the Minister of the FCT, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, called on the residents to be on alert to the possibilities of flood “in the coming months.” He also reiterated his constant call on residents to avoid illegal developments as well as dumping of refuse on water rights-of-way.
The Permanent Secretary, Mr.
Chinyeaka Ohaa, who represented the Minister, also used the occasion to ascertain the extent of damage caused by the flood.
This, according to him, was with a view to stemming future occurrences, the scale and nature of which, according to residents, have never been witnessed in the area before.
He said: “I have directed that our team of engineers should be dispatched to study the situation with a view to stemming future occurrence.
From all indications this is a natural disaster.
I am happy that our team is on ground for the search and rescue operations.” NEMA speaks In his reaction, the Head of Media and Public Relations of NEMA, Sani Datti, said NEMA “is working with Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and other stakeholders to mitigate disasters.” According to him, flood is a perennial natural disaster that cannot be completely eradicated, but can be combated through the collaborative effort of residents, state governments, necessary stakeholders and NEMA.
He said: “We have operational offices in all the geo-political zones across the country and the FCT and we usually engage in sensitisation programmes to let the public know of possible threats to lives and property.
This is because, while we cannot completely eradicate flood, because it is a perennial natural disaster, we can, at least, curtail the damages done by flood by being ready at all times.
“NEMA always holds conferences with NiMet, NIHSA and all the stakeholders involved in disaster management, where we compare notes and put facilities in place to overcome any disaster.
In fact, in February, this year, we got updates from NiMet on what to expect on flood across the country, this year.
This really helped us to get ready for the year under review.” Continuing, he said: “Nevertheless, attitude of the people is militating against our effort to combat flood.
For instance, on my way back from Kaduna, last week, I met people on the way returning to their village that was recently ravished by flood.
Their excuse was that the water level has dropped, but they were oblivious of the fact that it could return at anytime.
“Nevertheless, whenever there is a natural disaster, we send relief materials to the affected state and then our officials will be on ground to oversee the distribution of the materials to the victims, as we work in synergy.
Even as we don’t pray for disasters to occur, we have to be ready when they do.”