Not Yet State of Emergency for Flood in Nigeria – Minister

The Nigeria’s government, on Thursday, said it will not declare a state of emergency on the ravaging flooding in some parts of the country because it is not overwhelmed by the incidents yet.

 

Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, said this during an interview on Channels Television.

 

With over 600 lives lost and properties worth billions destroyed, the country is arguably facing one of its worst flooding incidents in decades.

 

The recent floods have displaced more than a million persons from their homes as some of the government’s infrastructural facilities were also affected by this unprecedented development.

 

Some of the most affected states include Kogi, Anambra, Rivers, Benue, Yobe, Delta, Cross River and Bayelsa.

 

When asked why Nigeria has not declared a state of emergency like neighbouring Chad, Mr Adamu, who admitted the dire conditions of this year’s victims of flood, said Nigeria has not got to that crisis point.

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He said the country would only do so if all relevant agencies complain of being overwhelmed.

 

“It’s certainly an emergency situation but it all depends on what you mean by the declaring state of emergency. We have not reached a situation in my view where the relevant emergency management authorities have not been able to deal with this situation. I’m not aware that has happened.

 

“We have governments, we have the federal government, we have state governments or state emergency management agencies and the Federal Emergency Agency. And I think they have not in any way said that they have been overwhelmed by what they have been doing,” the minister said.

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Mr Adamu debunked the claim in some quarters that it was poor planning on the part of government that led to the floodings.

 

The minister said the latest cases of flooding in some states in the country were largely human making due to their years of disregard for nature and proper planning.

 

“The flood is a combination of many things. First and foremost, there is a natural disaster, like an earthquake and everything. There is an act of God but there is also a human aspect to it. For this, one particular thing I will say is that for hundreds of years, well, decades, let me exaggerate. We have been bastardising our watersheds. We have been deforesting our lands, we have been degrading our soil, that is one aspect.

 

“Secondly, many Nigerians just refuse to be law abiding. They have built on water courses, they have blocked drains and water channels. So many activities have been done. Yes. And of course, I will accept that there are certain strategies that are to be taken, maybe engineering solutions, that over a long period of time have not been addressed, but that is also probably because of the nature and the level of our economy.

 

“Water resources management is a very, very expensive venture that is a time consuming venture. To even study alone takes years to be completed. So it is a combination of so many issues, really,” the minister explained.

 

Mr Adamu also dismissed the assumption that the release of water from the Lagbo Dam in Cameroon caused the havoc.

 

He said the water contribution of the dam is low compared to the volume of water Nigeria generates internally.

 

In a statement on Thursday by the director of information in the ministry, Offie Kenechukwu, the minister said the inflow from the dam to Nigeria was only one percent of the flooding.

 

The statement said Adamu made the clarification to debunk the belief by some Nigerians that Cameroon was responsible for Nigeria’s current flooding.

 

“Yes, the dam releases water; sometimes it releases water without notice and when they do that, it has an impact on communities downstream.

 

“It is not the main reason you have flooding in this country. The tributaries of River Benue are the main cause. And this year, the rains have been unprecedented,” the minister said in the statement.

 

Adamu said the transboundary water that comes into Nigeria from Rivers Niger and Benue constitutes only 20 percent of the freshwater that flows into the country.

 

“Eighty percent of the flood is the water we are blessed with from the sky falling on Mambila and Jos Plateau. Most of this flow is from Nigeria,” he said.

The minister, however, said that the Federal Government was not often informed by the Cameroonian government on the annual release of water from Lagbo Dam.

 

“It took a lot of effort for us for them to sign an MoU to be informing Nigeria about releases. It was signed in 2016. Since then, every year, when the flood season comes, it is the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency that calls them to know their level of water.

 

“We cannot blame the flood this year on Cameroon. We can only blame them for violating the terms of the MoU,” Adamu said.

 

Adamu said the Nigerian government will call for a review of the MoU.

 

On the Dasin Hausa Dam in Adamawa which could serve as a solution to flooding, the minister said “whether we are able to do the dam or not, we will continue to have floods on the River Niger and Benue basins”.

 

“There was a consultant that had been appointed by the previous administration to work on this dam. When I came into the office, I checked the scope of work and the terms of reference. I was not satisfied that justice will be done to that design.

 

“You cannot build a dam as important and strategic as Dasin Hausa on River Benue without a detailed feasibility and engineering design,” he said.

 

The minister disclosed that he disengaged the consultant in 2016, adding that it was one of the 116 projects that the ministry had. Adamu expressed the optimism that by March 2023, the feasibility studies and engineering design will be completed.

 

Chairman of the committee, Bello Mandiya, urged the ministry to find a lasting solution to flooding around the country.

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