Lagdo Dam opening: Nigeria raises alarm as flood to hit many states in “seven days”

– Yaounde, Abuja discuss water management to limit the impact of flooding

The Federal Government, on Monday, said all the frontline states on the path of River Benue may experience flooding within the next seven days as result of the opening of Lagdo Dam in Cameroon.

Speaking at a briefing in Abuja, held at the instance of the Presidential Committee set up by President Bola Tinubu, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, said the new committee would implement various policies and rescue missions aimed at mitigating the impacts of the flood from Lagdo Dam

She urged the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to step up actions by ensuring the immediate evacuation of Nigerians from flood-prone communities to safer destinations.

She said, “This coordinating meeting is holding at the instance of President Bola Tinubu, who directed such after I raised the issue of flooding in today’s Federal Executive Council meeting. Mr President directed that all relevant ministries must meet to find a solution to the issue of flooding.

“As earlier stated, the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon was opened recently and we will see the effect in the coming days. Flood has been a major issue in Nigeria and has been causing loss of lives and property. We have been given a task by Mr President to ensure proper preparedness against the effect of the opening of the Lagdo Dam.

“One of the things government in different states must begin to do is to ensure that drainages are cleaned. Blockages must be removed. Also, proper enlightenment and sensitisation of residents must be carried out.

“Residents in affected areas must begin to relocate to safer planes. States must stand up to involuntary relocations. It is inconceivable to witness avoidable loss of lives and property.”

The Minister of Environment, Iziaq Salako, as well as the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev, joined the humanitarian minister during the briefing, and promised to intensify efforts against the devastating impact of floods.

Yaoundé and Abuja discuss water management to limit the impact of flooding

In a correspondence dated August 21, the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs informs the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigeria’s civil protection agency, that Cameroon is about to release water from the Lagdo hydroelectric dam, located upstream on the Benue River. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims to have been informed of this operation by the Cameroonian government, via a note from its High Commission based in Abuja.

NEMA is thus instructed to take steps to limit the damage that could be caused by flooding following the release of that water.  “According to the note, it is worth noting that when it is necessary to release water [from the dam], Lagdo Dam authorities will only release small, variable, and modulated amounts of water at a time to ‘mitigate’ and avoid the damage that the released water could cause along the Benue River Basin in Cameroon and Nigeria,” the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote.

NEMA is also urged to take all the “necessary proactive measures to mitigate damage and raise the awareness of the population living in these areas to allow them to take all the required precautions.”

A few days ago, Eneo, Cameroon’s electric utility, warned of the forthcoming release of surplus water from the Lagdo dam reserve due to heavy rains. This operation poses a risk of flooding for people living along the riverbed as far as Nigeria.

In previous years, states in eastern Nigeria were hit by severe flooding when the sluice gates of the Lagdo dam were opened. This attracted the wrath of local authorities, who accused Cameroon of causing the rise of the Benue River without warning Nigeria.

By Okechukwu N

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