Metro

October 19, 2022

Floods: Delta, Kogi, Anambra, Benue govs cry to FG for help

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*8 LGAs submerged —SoLudo

*Bayelsa facing humanitarian crisis—Diri

*Benue overwhelmed —Ortom 

*FG should build more dams —Okowa

*10 LGAs still under water —Kogi Govt

*FG taking steps to mitigate effect —Source

By Festus Ahon, Samuel Oyadongha, Peter Duru, Boluwaji Obahopo,John Alechenu, ASABA

The governors of Delta, Bayelsa, Kogi, Anambra and Benue states yesterday appealed to the Federal Government to immediately come to their aid to avert a looming humanitarian crisis, following the devastating effects of floods in their states.

Speaking separately on the devastating impact of this year’s flood in their states, the governors said the situation has overwhelmed them, hence the need for urgent support from the Federal Government. 

According to data released by the Federal Government on Monday, 603 persons have died, two million displaced and hundreds of hectares of farmlands destroyed in this year’s flood across the country, making it the worst ever.

8 LGAs submerged in Anambra —Soludo

Speaking on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme, yesterday, Anambra State governor,  Professor Chukwuma Soludo said eight local governments in his state had been submerged, adding that bridges, roads and houses had been washed off.

He called on the Presidency and the National Assembly to be proactive in seeking immediate and long-term solutions to the issue of flooding.

“Beyond the immediate coping strategy and our own long-term agenda as a government in dealing with the environment, there is a national conversation that needs to happen. We can no longer deal with perennial flooding as an emergency.

“We knew it would happen. We know the next one will come. A year or two from now, another massive one will come and the country must begin to prepare and ask: what if it happens again?  What would be our response?

“That conversation must become a national conversation in the run-up to next year’s election. I think the National Assembly and the presidency must give a more forceful response, especially in the next two to three weeks when the flooding recedes.”

Bayelsa facing humanitarian crisis —Gov Diri

Joining the call for federal intervention, Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State yesterday lamented the ravaging flood in the state saying, “the situation is desperate and getting worse.”

Diri, in a statewide broadcast monitored in Yenagoa, said the state is currently isolated from the rest of the country and faced with humanitarian crisis, with food, medical provisions and energy now in short supply.

He pleaded with President Mohammadu Buhari to consider special grants to the state from the Stabilization Funds, Ecological Funds and Natural Resources Fund as well as solicit the assistance of international donor agencies.

His words:  “Over the last few days, floods have overwhelmed our communities and severely impacted the lives and livelihood of our people. This is a natural disaster that has affected many other states of the federation to various degrees. I have been on a tour of several of our communities to see at first hand the extent of destruction. Our experience has shown that the flood water empties into our state.

“From my personal assessment, the situation is dire. Nearly a million people in over 300 communities in the state, have been internally displaced. Unfortunately, some deaths have been reported. The narrative is the same across Sagbama, Ekeremor, Southern Ijaw, Ogbia, Yenagoa, Nembe and Kolokuma-Opokuma Local Government Areas. Businesses have been shut, properties lost and farmlands destroyed. We have a humanitarian crisis.

“Critical infrastructure like hospitals, roads, bridges and schools, including the state-owned Niger Delta University, Amassoma, the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri, and the University of Africa, Toru-Orua, have been severely affected.

“As I make this address, Bayelsa State is completely severed from the rest of the country as portions of the strategic East-West Road, the sole access to and from the state, between Ughelli and Patani in Delta State as well as Okogbe and Ahoada in Rivers State have collapsed with a high volume of flood water occupying the stretch. Economic hardship has set in, as food, medical provisions and energy are now in short supply. The situation is desperate and getting worse.

“Without exaggeration, the sheer scale of  devastation is not such that the state can handle on its own. We urgently solicit the support of multinationals, international donor agencies, the Red Cross, diplomatic missions and people of goodwill to come to the aid of our state. I appeal to Mr. President to consider special grants to the state from the Stabilization Fund, Ecological Fund and Natural Resources Fund. “

Diri also directed that all public servants except those on essential duties be given time off from work for the next one week following the devastating flood across the state.

Build dams, desilt major rivers, Okowa tells FG

Also addressing the situation in his state, Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, urged the Federal Government to build new dams and desilt major rivers in the country to check flooding, especially when neighbouring countries open their dams.

Okowa, who made the call when he visited flood victims at some Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs camps in the state, told the Federal Government to make efforts at desilting River Niger and River Benue to deepen the depths of the rivers to accommodate high volume of flood water.

The governor, who visited IDP camps at Ogbe-Afor Primary School and Oneh Primary School in Asaba and Ewulu Mixed Grammar School, Ewulu in Aniocha South Local Government Area, said the best way to end the loss of lives and valuables to flood was for the government to take proactive steps towards stalling perennial flooding each time neighbouring countries opened their dams.

While commiserating with families that lost persons and property to the floods, Okowa disclosed that five persons died in various communities, adding that 11 holding camps had been established to take care of those displaced by the flood.

To make the camps comfortable, he said that daily feeding of the IDPs is a priority, and that medical facilities and personnel are in various camps to take care of medical needs of inmates to avoid possible outbreak of diseases.

Okowa said; “I was informed by the SSG when the team briefed me yesterday that as a result of the flood, five deaths were recorded, although not inside the camps but across the state, and that is very unfortunate.

“Another issue is the dam in Cameroon. It always causes a major overflow in our rivers. From the preliminary information I have, what could be done is to build our own holding dams here in Nigeria and a regular desilting of our rivers. And, that is not going to be the state government’s function. It is that of the Federal Government because of the type of dam that will be built across the river. So, it is going to be a major dam.

“So, I believe that it is important that the Federal Government will look into it very quickly and begin to start the process”.

Benue overwhelmed —Ortom

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State yesterday said the flood crisis has overwhelmed his state and called for immediate assistance from the Federal Government. 

“We are already grappling with the persons displaced by the armed Fulani herdmen attacks and then this. This is too much of a burden for the state government and we are already overwhelmed because the state government lacks the capacity to handle the situation. We are appealing to the Federal Government, international and local humanitarian organizations and spirited individuals to come to our aid,” he said.

The governor confirmed that no fewer than 24 persons have lost their lives in 12 Local Government Areas, LGAs, of the state to the surging flood that hit Benue State while 74 others sustained serious injuries.

In a detailed account of the situation in the state, the governor, through the Executive Secretary of the Benue State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Dr. Emmanuel Shior disclosed that the flood also sacked  a total of 134,797 persons from their homes while 18,349 households were affected in the disaster.

He noted that  127 communities in 12 LGAs including Agatu, Apa, Tarka, Gboko, Gwer West, Logo, Guma, Vandeikya, Otukpo, Buruku, Katsina-Ala and Makurdi were affected by the flood.

He stated that 1,818 houses were either lost or submerged in the affected LGAs while 20,468 hectares of farmland were washed away.The Governor explained that responders were still profiling more victims lamenting that the state government was already overwhelmed by the situation.

10 LGAs still under water —Kogi Govt

The Kogi State Government yesterday also revealed that eight local government areas in the state are still submerged as begged for urgent intervention.

Speaking with Vanguard, the state Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Victor Omofaiye said the state is in dire need of help as the level of devastation is more than the state can cope with or solve on its own.

Mr. Omofaiye who said the state was still grappling with 2012 devastation, said Kogi was always at the receiving end of flooding because of its location.

“Kogi is always on the red alert. As soon as Shiroro or Kanji dam is released, it finds its way down to Lokoja because of the convergence of River Niger and Benue.

 In 2012, the level of destruction was so massive –   about 70,000 houses were affected, while many died. With the volume of water this year more than 2012, you can only imagine what the level of devastation will be.

“Our people are still on the field collecting data and we have created a situation room. However, 10 Local Government areas are affected and still presently under water – Ibaji, Idah, Igalamela/Odolu, Ofu, Omala, Bassa, Kogi, Lokoja and Ajaokuta are still under water.”

Omofaiye said the state is afraid of food insecurity as an aftermath of the flood since the area of the state known for rice productions are the most affected, “Ibaji is the highest producers of rice in the state and that is the worst hit of the flooding. The rice farmlands are all submerged. The same for Giriyan in Kogi Council area.

“Farmlands and property worth billions of naira are already gone. We cannot accurately ascertain the level of destruction untill the field work is done, but at presently, the state is overwhelmed.”

The commissioner said the state has created camps across the affected council areas for displaced victims, said it has also been able to provide succour for those at the camp.

“We understand that some victims had moved to their relative for temporary accommodation but for those who make use of our structured IDP camps, they have received palliatives, expecially consumables.”

Omofaiye however called on the FG to provide immediate help that will give the victims sense of belonging, as well as look into the complete dredging of River Niger and Benue, “We urge the FG to complete the dredging of the rivers. This will be able to accommodate twice or thrice the size of the water and mitigate against future occurrences.”

FG taking steps to mitigate effects — Source

Reacting to the call for assistance, a source in the Federal Ministry of Environment told Vanguard that the Federal Government is concerned and had initiated steps to mitigate the effects of climate change which is responsible for the increasing rate of floods in several countries, Nigeria inclusive.

The source, who craved anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said: “The Federal Government, as you know, has empowered the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, in collaboration with states to provide relief for persons in affected communities.

‘’To show the level of seriousness of this administration to tackle this challenge brought about by the effect of climate change, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the Council for Climate Change in September.

‘’While doing so, he reiterated this administration’s determination to strengthen national response and accelerate the implementation of actions to reduce the impact of   climate change   on the people and economy.

‘’The council is the body tasked with the responsibility of formulating appropriate policies and other mechanisms for achieving low Green House Gas emissions, including green growth and sustainable economic development for

“President Buhari is the chairman of the council, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is Vice Chairman, our Minister is just one of the members.”