September 15, 2019

September Troubling Forecast: Anxiety in 15 prone states over poor preparations

makes case for wetland

Flood in Lagos

…Residents lament: Nowhere to relocate

By Dayo Johnson, Festus Ahon, Egufe Yafugborhi,  Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu  Emma Una, Femi Bolaji, Chinonso Alozie, Ola Ajayi, Monsur Olowopeju, David Odama, Charles Agwam, Monsuru Olowoopejo, Umar Yusuf &  Kabir DanKatsina

Findings by  Sunday Vanguard revealed that 15 states, identified as being threatened by flooding across Nigeria, are already putting measures in place but are challenged by funds, especially ecological money. Most of the states which were recently placed on red alert by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, NIHSA,  are funding the battle against the disaster amid non-release of the funds meant for disaster management.


Flood in Lagos

The states include Niger, Lagos, Edo, Imo, Abia, Jigawa, Adamawa, Delta, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Oyo, Enugu, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Bauchi and the Federal Capital Territory.

The NIHSA had asked them to expect more flooding, adding that flood from the upper reaches of the Niger Basin comprising Guinea, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivorie, Benin, Chad and Cameroon would be arriving Nigeria next month.

Across most states,  Sunday Vanguard observed that multi-stakeholder steps are being taken, especially sensitisation and relocation of those living in places regarded as flashpoints.

In most of the states, the flood resulted in the loss of lives and property and destruction of farmlands.

RIVERS:‘Never been this ready’

On August 15, the state government met with National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, all Local Governments Areas, LGAs, Permanent Secretaries of six focal ministries and key security agencies to come up with measures against flooding.

In response to the to the prediction by NHSA and NEMA, Rivers State governor, Mr, Nyesom Wike 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.

According to the Media Assistant to the governor, Mr. Simon Nwakudu, other LGAs would receive attention.

Nwakaudu said: “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.

NEMA representative at the meeting convened by the Rivers State Government, Mr. Egwu Damian, assured the state of early information sharing, adducing the reoccurring flooding in the state to its location by the bank of the Atlantic Ocean.

Asked if the state has received Ecological Funds this year, Nwakaudu declined direct response, urging Sunday Vanguard to rather verify from the federal government. “Floods should not be politicised. Floods should not be used to seek attention,” Nwakudu added.

However, a senior state official, who pleaded anonymity, said Rivers has not received ecological funds this year. The state official added: “The multi-stakeholders preparedness against flooding this year in Rivers has never been this proactive. There is now in place for the first time, Local  Emergency Management Teams at the local government level to enhance prompt response.

CROSS RIVER3,000 to be relocated

No fewer than 3000 people are to be relocated by the Cross River State government from flood-prone areas.

Acting  Director-General of Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA,  Mr. Princewill Ayim, told Sunday Vanguard 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. 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 also added that the government would build permanent houses on the land already earmarked for the people to serve as a camp.

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 added.

However, at the Ministry of Environment, the  Permanent  Secretary told Sunday Vanguard that he was not aware if the state had received of the ecological fund this year.

OYO:  Strategy mapped out

To prevent a repeat of the flooding that ravaged Oyo State, especially Ibadan in August 2011, Oyo  State governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde through the State Emergency Agency ,SEMA, has mapped out strategies.

The governor said his government would readily support the implementation of the Ibadan Urban Flood Management and other ongoing intervention projects in the state.

Speaking to Sunday Vanguard, Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, said: “The government would alert our people about impending flood disasters. On Ecological fund, nothing of such has been released to the state.’’

Governor Makinde had established the Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project, lUFMP, as a people-oriented project set up to change the narrative of incessant and ravaging flood disasters.

Sunday Vanguard further learned that people are being sensitised, especially in Oke Ogun 1, Oke Ogun 2 and Oyo.

NASARAWA: Intervention funds needed

Findings revealed that Nasarawa State has not accessed any intervention fund for flooding since 2013. The sum of four hundred million nairas was said to have been received at the time

However, the state government has taken various measures that would mitigate any problem arising from flooding.

Speaking on the issue, Director Flood, Erosion and Land Reclamation Project Coordinator, Mr Kwakaha Jonathan 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.

He said: “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.

“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 that Flood Risk Assessment in Akwanga and other LGAs were carried out using rainfall data and the perception of the flood plain dwellers.

BAUCHI: ‘We are equipped, ready for September rains’

The Bauchi State Emergency Agency , SEMA,  said the state is equipped and ready to control flood in the State.

The Director of Relief and Rehabilitation of the Agency, Kabiru Kobi told Sunday Vanguard that his 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. “We are very ready to face any emergency that may arise as a result of the flood in Bauchi State,” he said.

LAGOS: LASG conducts biometrics in 33 LGs

*Urges residents to leave, renovates relief camps, PHCs

Following the warning by NHSA, the state government has directed the conduct of biometrics in 33 LGAs that may be affected by any natural disaster.

Besides, the state government has directed that its agencies 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.

In an interview with  Sunday Vanguard, Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Dr Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, said: “We have urged those living in flood plains to leave their houses.’’

While noting that all key stakeholders have been put on red alert, Oke-Osanyintolu stressed that residents must also participate in reducing the impact of the flood in the state, saying, they have to engage in proper sanitation.

He said: “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.

“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.’’

IMO: Govt commences area mapping

Imo State government told Sunday Vanguard that it has commenced area mapping of places likely to be affected by the flood.

The state Commissioner for Environment, Tony Okere , who spoke to Sunday Vanguard in Owerri, said he could not confirm at the time of filing this report whether the state government has received the ecological fund, adding that measures are being put in place to mitigate any problem arising from the flood.

He said: “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.

“It consists of professionals from different areas. The committee 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.”

On its part, NEMA through its  Head of Imo/Abia Operations Office, Mr Evans Ugoh, said it has concluded plans to visit the already built Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camps around Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta LGA to ascertain its state.

Ugoh said: “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.  ‘’

ADAMAWA: 8 LGAs threatened, residents urged to relocate

In Adamawa State, Sunday Vanguard learned that proactive measures are being adopted by all the relevant agencies to prevent any likely disaster.

Director-General, Media and Communication to Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, Mr. Solomon Kumanga said communities along the flood-prone areas are been sensitised to relocate to safer zones.

Kumanga told Sunday Vanguard 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 the state capital and its environs.

According to him, 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.’’

Continuing,  he 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.

However,  Kumanga appealed to the federal government to give special intervention fund to the state.

The Executive Secretary of Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency, ADSEMA, Dr Mohammed Aminu Sulaiman identified eight LGAs that are prone to flooding.

They include Yola North, Yola South, Fufore, Demsa, Numan, Lamurde, Shelleng, and Guyuk.

KEBBI:  LGAs sensitised, relief materials provided

Kebbi State government held several meetings with stakeholders on how to contain flood disaster.

The state governor, Abubakar Bagudu approved 200 million nairas 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

While contacted the Executive Director, SEMA, Abass Kamba told Sunday Vanguard that last month, officials of NHSA visited Kebbi and had a meeting with the officials of emergency agencies of  Kebbi,  Sokoto, Katsina and Niger states.

He added 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 following LGAs as areas that could be most affected: Dandi, Kalgo, Koko/Besse, Suru, Aleiro, Bagudo, Augie, BirninKebbi, Ngaski, Shnga, Bunza, and Argungu. While saying that the state has not received any fund this year for flood management, he disclosed that NEMA and officials of SEMAs from 36 states of the federation would hold a meeting in Kebbi.

EDO: LGAs gear-up, state govt lukewarm

LAST year, not less than 35 communities were ravaged in Edo State by the furious flood. The communities are in Etsako Central, Etsako East and Esan South East LGAs. These councils have communities along the bank of River Niger.

In Esan South-East LGA, some of the villages that were affected in the disaster last year in Esan South East included  Illushi, Ifeku Islands and environs,  Illushi Oji, Oji Ozigono, Oji Awenje, Ajobe, Ajabutu, Owoli, Iyegbi, Ukpodo, and several others.

In Etsako Central and Etsako East, communities most affected were Udaba, Anegbette, Usomegbe, Uduchi, Udaba, Uzanu and several others. These areas are also likely to be affected going NHSA’s warning.

Bearing in mind what happened last year, they are leaving no stone unturned to ensure the impact is not much this year. Inquiries in the governor’s office on what the state government is doing did not yield result.

“I know they were talking about desilting some parts of the state to allow free flow of rainwater,’’ an official who said he was not authorised to speak, told Sunday Vanguard.

Several phone calls to the Commissioner of Environment in the state, Dame Omoua Oni-Okpaku were not answered as at press time.

Speaking to Sunday Vanguard on its level of preparedness, the Chief Press Secretary to Esan South East LGA Chairman, Mr Ernest Omoarelojie appealed to NEMA to build a permanent structure to house displaced persons since flooding is perennial in the area.

On his part, the Chairman of Etsako Central LGA, Mr John Akhigbe said he had set up a task force on disaster management to handle the emergencies that may occur.

His counterpart in Etsako East, Alhaji Aremiyau Momoh said he had submitted a list of possible areas of flooding to the presidency.

TARABA: 11 out of 16 LGAs are flood-prone

Taraba State Emergency Management Agency, TSEMA, said it has identified 11 out of the 16 LGAs in the state which may be affected by flooding.

Permanent Secretary of TSEMA, Nuvalga Danhabu, who disclosed this to Sunday Vanguard, explained that the government agency has issued a red alert to communities identified.

He said: “11 local government areas in the state have River Benue and other rivers’ tributaries flowing through them.

“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.’’

JIGAWA: Govt considers the supplementary budget

The 2019 rainy season has brought untold hardship for several communities across Jigawa State as they were ravaged by the flood which accompanied the rains in addition to overflow of the bank

of River Hadejia.

This year’s flood claimed the lives of six persons including a pregnant woman and washed away over 2,000 houses and farmlands. The local governments affected include Ringim, Miga, Auyo, Kafin-Hausa, Kirikasamma, and Guri.

The state government, however, said 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 disclosed this through his deputy, Alhaji Umar Namadi during a visit to those displaced by flood in Guri town, Miga and Kaugama.medicines to avoid the outbreak of any disease.

NIGER: Flood sacking communities

Indications that the prediction of NHSA may come to pass, emerged in Minna recently as houses were submerged.

Two LGAs, Chanchaga and Bosso were gravely affected. As at press time, displaced people had not been resettled as some take refuge in Mosques, and Churches.

As a result of the development, the Niger State Emergency Management Agency, NSEMA, warned against the possible outbreak of an epidemic.

Director-General of the Agency, Alhaji Ibrahim Inga in an interview said the agency is trying to locate a place to resettle the victims.

He said: “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.

“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.’’

DELTA:  Govt building rainstorms

In Delta State, the Commissioner for Environment, Mr Christian Onogba, told Sunday Vanguard that the state government is looking at the two causes of flooding.

He said: “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.

“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.”

On whether the state government had received ecological funds this year, he said: “I cannot say for sure. I just assumed office but I know that this ministry is in the process of receiving ecological funds and you know it is World Bank facilitated. It takes a whole lot of process.

“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.’’

On the level of preparedness of SEMA, he said: “I can tell you that SEMA is very ready. A few days ago, a  Commissioner  was inaugurated and given the responsibilities of SEMA.’’

ONDO:  373 loose 600-hectare rice farm to flood

No fewer than 600 hectares of rice farms were washed away by flood in Ayede Ogbese, Ondo State during a 10-day downpour.

Owners of the rice farm in the agrarian community are currently lamenting over the destruction of their sources of livelihood.

The farmers told Sunday Vanguard that they had obtained bank loans to cultivate the hectares of rice farm.

They were particularly worried over how to repay the loans following the losses brought about by the flood.

The Coordinator of the rice farmers under the aegis of Federated FADAMA Rice Association, Olayinka Labiran said: “The havoc wreaked by the flood was the first to be recorded by the farmers in this area in recent time.

“There is no single farmer here who is not affected by the flood. Worse still, the rice had started fruiting and should have been ready for harvesting next month before the heavens opened for about 10 days, destroying all our farms thereby leaving us in huge debts.

  373 farmers under were affected

“No fewer than 373 farmers were affected. We have lost billions of Naira to the flood. We can say that at least over four thousand tonnes of rice would have been harvested from the farm if this did not happen to us.

“The farmers who are under the Federal Government Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Anchor Borrowers scheme through the Bank of Agriculture are in mourning mood. Most of us would find it extremely difficult to repay the loan. This is because the whole farmlands had been completely submerged by the flood.

“More importantly, this development would affect the drive towards ensuring sufficiency in rice production. Billions of naira had been lost to the flood by farmers in this state.

“We cannot access our farms as the entire areas had been submerged with water while the whole farms have been washed away by the flood.’’

Although the loan from CBN was insured, Labiran said: “We are calling on both the state and Federal Government to assist the farmers. We also call on the insurance company to come and see the havoc wreaked on the farms.’’

Also speaking, the Chairman Federated FADAMA Farmers Community Association, Chief Boluwade Ogunbodede, who called for a permanent solution to the challenges lamented that farmers have been prevented from accessing their farms. He added that the roads leading to the farms had also been destroyed.

Ogunbodede who said that the over 50 workers engaged at the association’s rice mill in Alayere community in Ogbese “would have to be laid off because the mill will be closed down for production.’’

He, therefore, appealed to the state government to promptly come to their aid. “The federal government had been encouraging us to take up farming and we have been able to make farming attractive to our youths, the flooding should not send them back to the labour market,” he added.

Meanwhile, the state government has described the development as pathetic.

Speaking on behalf of the government, the Senior Special Adviser to the state governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Agriculture, Akin Olotu, said the state government visited the affected farms to ascertain the level of destruction.

He said: “We are discussing with the farmers but the magnitude of the damage is too much. We have also contacted the National Emergency Agency, NEMA, to see what they can do for us

“When we got the report, we quickly visited the farms and we are looking at what we can do to help these farmers. The magnitude is much than what we can do. We can only appeal to the federal government to consider the state in this regard.

“The farmers need immediate assistance to keep them in the business of food production. I want to assure the farmers that the state government is not sleeping on this issue as they remain an important stakeholder in the development of this state.”

Also speaking to Sunday Vanguard, a farm inspector, Jimoh Adelanwa said: “There is little hope for their survival after the flood since all their labour had been washed away in just one week of heavy rainfall leading to flooding

“Any short-term assistance is welcome, but it won’t help them escape the crippling debt.

“The affected people might indeed get support from the government, but it would be difficult for them to be debt-free.

“One of the greatest challenges facing the Nigerian government is how to guarantee adequate food for all through its many agricultural initiatives. Despite all its investments towards ensuring food security in the country, some natural incidences such as flooding have continually contributed adversely.”