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Govs take panicky measures as floods ravage states

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  • Ekiti to begin dredging, marks houses for possible demolition

  • Gombe not sensitizing residents, loses 2,200 farms

  • States should demolish houses on waterways –NIHSA

In spite of the warnings issued by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency to state governments that this year’s rains would wreak havoc, most of the affected states have refused to act.

Consequently, residents of these states are now bearing the brunt of downpour. For instance, some residents of Oyo, Ekiti, Adamawa, Gombe, Bayelsa and Osun states are now counting their losses after rains pounded their communities. Like it is characteristic of the country’s leaders, the affected state governments are now taken panicky measures to prevent further destruction.

The Director-General of NIHSA, Mr Clement Eze, had while presenting the 2019 Annual Flood Outlook in Abuja on August 7 placed 15 states on the red alert.

He asked their residents to get prepared for massive flooding while the affected state governments should put strategies in place to save their people from the impending disaster.

The states to be affected by the looming flood, according to Eze, are Niger, Lagos, Edo, Imo, Abia, Jigawa, Adamawa, Cross River, Oyo, Enugu, Kebbi, Nasarawa,  Delta, Rivers and Bauchi, as well as the Federal Capital Territory.

However, most of the affected state governments did not do anything until torrential rain started to wreak havoc in the last two weeks.

For instance, it took the downpour that destroyed properties and displaced residents of some communities in Ibadan last Tuesday to wake the Oyo State Government from its slumber.

It declared its readiness to commence dredging of rivers in flood-prone communities.

But this is after residents of Ogundipe and Arekemase communities at Olodo area of Egbeda Local Government Area of the state had lost all they laboured for to flooding.

Also affected were residents of Idi-Ayunre at Oje Market in Ibadan.

The Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Mr Kehinde Ayoola, told one of our correspondents in Ibadan that the ministry in conjunction with the Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project would soon dredge the rivers.

He said, “We are going to dredge some rivers for water to flow and not to overflow its bank. The ministry is doing so in conjunction with the IUFMP and the exercise would be carried out this week, to avert loss of lives and destruction of property.

“That’s on the part of government. I wish to also appeal to our people to stop throwing refuse into the river. They should stop blocking the water channels. That practice is not good.”

Ekiti to begin dredging, mark houses for possible demolition

Also, residents of Oke Osun in Ikere Ekiti, Olujoda Zone 1 (Ado Ekiti), Ureje (Ado Ekiti), Elemi Afao Road in Ado Ekiti and Ogbese in Ise-Orun Local Government Area of Ekiti State were seriously affected by flood that followed a downpour last week.

The Ureje Bridge along Poly Road in Ado Ekiti was also affected by the rain that fell last Tuesday. It was after this rain that Governor Kayode Fayemi visited the affected areas and instructed the state Commissioner for Environment, Gbenga Agbeyo, to give some palliative measures to the affected areas and some relief materials to the victims.

Agbeyo said on Sunday that following the devastating effects of flooding in parts of the state on Wednesday and Friday, the houses that obstructed the flow of water would be “marked so that we will do something about them.”

He added, “We will also immediately begin dredging of the water channels to aid free flow of water.”

The commissioner said he could not determine the extent of damage done by the flooding.

He said, “It is very huge. The areas affected differ. A lot of people were affected. The governor said we should give some palliative measures, some relief materials to the people that were affected. So, we are planning on that.”

Fayemi, who also visited the affected communities to commiserate with the victims, said, “We cannot fold our arms and watch people lose their lives and property to flood. This was why we embarked on the de-silting of blocked drains and the dredging of blocked waterways. For us as a government, we are committed to a safe environment.

“But our people too have critical roles to play in ensuring that we have a safe environment. It is unacceptable to dump refuse in the drains. Once the drains are blocked, flooding is certain to happen. Whoever is caught dumping refuse in the drains will face the wrath of the law.”

Community leader escapes death, Osun sets up rescue team

Also, the Osun State Government on Sunday said it had put in place a rescue team that consists of men of the Osun State Fire Service and medical personnel for assistance in case of flooding emergency.

This is after flooding ravaged some parts of Osogbo last week.

In a chat with one of our correspondents, the Supervisor  for Works and Health, Mr Remi Omowaiye, said Governor Adegboyega Oyetola had on Saturday, in anticipation of emergency that might follow NIHRA’s  forecast of heavy rain around the state, set up the rescue team.

Following torrential rain on Saturday, the Baale of Ibu Amo, Osogbo, Chief Fatai Summonu, it was learnt, was held in his palace by the overflown river Osun that spilled into his premises.

The government’s rescue team, it was further learnt, rescued the traditional ruler and evacuated others caught up in the flood.

He added, “Following Mr Governor’s directive, the team proceeded to the flood-prone areas. But when water was receding in the flooded parts, it rained again on Saturday evening. All through the night, we were moving round to ensure people are safe. Baale Ibu Amo community was rescued by the team late in the night on Saturday.

“While those working on the water channels will continue with the work, our people should vacate buildings in flood-prone areas. Weather forecast had shown that in the next few days, Osun may experience heavy rain again.”

However, flooding experienced in some parts of Osogbo, Osun State capital, since Saturday, worsened on Sunday.

Many residents of Gbodofon, Onirodunu, Baruwa, Woleola Estate communities, as well as Ibu Amo in Osogbo,  were sacked from their homes by the flood.

Two residents of Onirodunu area, Mr Sodiq Oladepo and David Eze, who lost property to the flooding, said since Friday they could not access their homes.

Oladepo said, “My family members and I are now squatters. The rain will still fall today (Sunday) which portends grave danger for us.”

He called for the immediate dredging of Osun River to prevent recurrence.

During a visit to the affected areas on Sunday, the governor advised the people to vacate the flood-prone areas.

He said, “We had before now planned to dredge some areas. It is not a matter of dredging alone. We must not forget the flow from Ekiti State is also huge and when you look at the topography, our own side is a little bit sloppy.

“And that is why you have the river overflowing it banks, but I believe with the dredging that we want to do, it will reduce substantially the possibility of flood.

“The project is huge for us. I have sought the assistance of the Federal Government and the SSG has sent some people to visit the flood-prone areas across the state.  In the next one week, we should start getting their assistance.”

The governor also lamented indiscriminate dumping of refuse by residents and appealed to people to desist from blocking water channels with dirt.

Anxiety in Bayelsa over flooding, govt  unperturbed

In Bayelsa State, until the recent August break, some communities in Ekeremor, Southern Ijaw, Sagbama, Yenagoa and Ogbia Local Government Area, had suffered the impact of flooding this year.

Residents in Kolokuma/Opokuma, Nembe and Brass also experienced flooding between June and August due to rainstorms.

In Yenagoa LGA, communities in Biseni Kingdom and the Epie/Atissa Kingdom have not been spared by the effects of flash floods due to downpour.

Bayelsa was the worst hit among the states located along the lower River Niger axis during the 2012 and 2018 floods.

The impending flood disaster this year is already causing anxiety among residents, including especially in Yenagoa metropolis where proper drainage system is apparently lacking and the natural waterways have been blocked by indiscriminate dumping of refuse.

As part of efforts to mitigate its impact in the state capital, the Bayelsa State Government recently undertook the clearing of canals and the natural water channels.

It was observed that natural waterways in Ekeki, Yenizue-Gene, Kpansia and the Fly-over areas of Yenagoa had been cleared to pave the way for smooth flow of water.

However, the state government under Governor Seriake Dickson had yet to come up with measures towards cushioning the effects of the predicted flooding this year.

When contacted for an update on government’s preparedness for the flood, the Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Ebipatei Apaingolo, said he was at a meeting and that he would not be able to make any comment.

Flood washes away three Adamawa communities, gov seeks help

But flood resulting from downpours experienced in Adamawa State in the last two weeks wreaked havoc as residents were displaced while property were destroyed.

For instance, a bridge along Lafiya, in Lamurde Local Government Area linking Adamawa and Gombe states collapsed as a result of a downpour about two weeks ago.

Also a week ago, flood washed away three Adamawa communities and destroyed farmlands in five local government areas of the state.

Many people were rendered homeless by the flood which destroyed properties worth millions of naira in the Yola North Local Government Area, according to Adamu Ibrahim, the transition chairman of the council.

He added that the flood left six people dead in the area in August.

Also, the Executive Secretary, Adamawa State Emergency Agency, Suleiman Muhammad, while reacting to inquiry by one of our correspondents on Sunday, said, “Three communities were washed away in Shelleng as a result of the floods. We set up a temporary IDP shelter camp in Modire, in Yola South where 300 persons mostly women and children are camped. They may return to their homes in a day or two once the water recedes.

“Across the state, about five local governments were also hit by the floods which caused massive destruction of farmlands in Ganye, Toungo, Yola North, Yola South and Girei, which if quantified would be in several hundred of millions.

“In the state metropolis, Yolde Pate, Jambutu and Yola town are among the areas worst hit by the floods, though there’s no recorded case of death.”

But Ibrahim, who spoke to one of our correspondents shortly after the devastating flash floods which killed four people in the state capital, blamed the flooding on the lack of adherence to town planning regulations.

This, he said, was why some people built indiscriminately on waterways thus aggravating the impact of the flood.

Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of the state called on the Federal Government to support the state to help mitigate the devastation brought by the floods.

Gombe not sensitising people, loses 2,200 farms

But the Deputy Director, Relief and Rehabilitation, Gombe State Emergency Management GOSEMA, Mrs Lamis Benjamin, in a telephone chat with one of our correspondents, said over 700 farms were swept away by flood in Dukku, 500 in Nafada and 1,000 others in Funakaye.

She added that though two lives were lost in the flood incident which occurred recently, GOSEMA had not started to sensitise the people as suggested by NIHSA.

“We did not carry out any sensitisation but after it occurred, we wrote a proposal that we would carry out sensitisation in all the LGAs, this will cut across different platforms but the proposal is awaiting the governor’s approval.”.

States yet to implement recommendations – NIHSA

However, senior officials of the NIHSA stated on Sunday that some state governments had yet to fully implement the recommendations that would help in curtailing the devastating effects of floods in their domains,.

Early last month, it again called on states to take necessary precautions to prevent the devastating impact of floods in their domains.

When contacted on Sunday to speak on the flood situation in Nigeria and whether states were keeping to the recommendations of NIHSA, officials of the agency replied in the negative.

“The states should have the political will to demolish where people have built on waterways and flood plains. People should vacate flood-prone areas. They should move away from lowlands and go to uplands so that even when the water flows, human lives will not be lost. But we are not seeing all these in states,” an official of the agency, who pleaded not to be named due to the sensitive nature of the matter, stated.

Another official said, “Our position is that as long as there is rain, there will always be flood. But the main thing is that how do you manage this issue? When people tile their compounds with tiles and others, the water that would have gone into the ground will just flow and these things continue to happen. Urbanisation as well is contributory. So you cannot just put it on anybody.”

Although the spokesperson for the agency, Ifeoma Ndefo, declined to comment on whether states were complying with the recommendations of NIHSA, she explained that the agency’s mandate was mainly to provide the necessary information to prevent flooding.

“We don’t have the mandate to either regulate or monitor. Our mandate is to give early warning, professional knowledge-based prediction and information that will guide people to know what action to take,” she stated.

We’re working hard to manage flooding –NEMA

On its part, officials of the National Emergency Management Agency told one of our correspondents in Abuja that several steps were being taken to manage the flood situation in the country.

The agency’s Head of Media and Public Relations, Sani Datti, stated that a lot was being done by NEMA and that the agency’s Director-General, Mustapha Maihaja, had earlier announced that the organisation had commenced moves to prevent the recurrence of floods across the country.

In a report by NEMA, Maihaja explained that the moves had to do with early preparedness, mitigation and flood prevention mechanism, adding that the agency was working with the FME.

He said, “As regards the need to address floods across the country, the agency in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Environment made a joint presentation to the National Economic Council on the 19th of July, last year (2018) and the council noted and considered the need to set in motion plans and procedures to prevent or mitigate future floods.

“Consequently, the council agreed that a federal coordinating unit be set up to identify locations for critical actions as immediate do-able measures executable within a short period of time.”

Maihaji noted that on some identified projects, the cost required for the implementation of the projects was to be shared as follows: Federal Government, 30 per cent; state government, 30 per cent; and Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation, 40 per cent.

The NEMA boss stated that devastating floods of remarkable magnitude resulting in property damage and loss of lives occurred annually, adding that about 20 per cent of the population were at the risk of encountering one form of flooding or another.

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