Citing increased risk of flooding and its deadly consequences, governments of Lagos and Nasarawa Sunday urged those living in their coastal communities to relocate immediately.
Some residents in threatened Otuoke community in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa, urged the federal and state governments to come to their rescue.
The warning was given following the advice from National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigeria Meteorological Services (NIMET) and Nigeria Hydrological Services (NIHSA).
The agencies were put on notice by the Foreign Affairs Ministry after a note verbal from Cameroonian government that Lagdo Dam water will be released.
There is also a warning of water release by the Ogun-Osun River Basin Authority.
Lagos State Ministry of Environment asked residents on the bank of Ogun River to quit immediately.
“This follows an updated 2023 Water Releases Forecast for Flood Control by the Ogun-Osun River Basin Authority, effective September, and the high rainfall being experienced as predicted,” the ministry’s Permanent Secretary in the Office of Drainage Services and Water Resources, Lekan Shodeinde said Sunday.
A statement by ministry spokesman, Kunle Adeshina, listed 17 flood-prone communities that must be immediately vacated as: Alagbole, Meiran, Maidan, Kara, Isheri-Olowora, Agiliti, Owode-Onirin, Owode-Elede, Agboyi I, Agboyi II, Ajegunle, Itowolo, Majidun, Ibeshe, Baiyeku, Maidan and Lekki-Ajah axis.
According to the permanent secretary, who urged residents of the listed areas to move upland, “the state is concerned about the safety of lives and property”. Shodeinde explained that much water will be released this month in addition to the heavy downpour expected from now till December.
According to the updated 2023 Water Releases Forecast, signed by Managing Director of the Ogun-Osun River Basin Authority, Olufemi Odumosu, the comparative total amount of rainfall recorded from January to August 2023 (1,128.6mm) is higher than that of January to August in 2021 (713.4mm) and 2022 (848.1mm).
Shodeinde said: “Comparatively, 968.6mm was recorded as amount of rainfall for 2021, 1,140 mm for 2022, while in the first eight months of 2023, a quantum of 1,128.6mm has already been recorded, which means when the remaining four months is factored in, a very high intensity of rainfall would be recorded for the whole year.
“When some of the other figures released by the Ogun- Osun River Basin Authority is further scrutinised for volume of water spilled, it shows 1,102mcm was spilled in 2021 and 1,475.6 mcm in 2022, while for the first eight months of this year, 1,393.1mcm has already been spilled by the River Basin authority. This means that more water will be released when factored with the remaining four months in 2023.”
The permanent secretary noted that the water levels of all tributaries, including the Oyan Dam, are rising and is one of the contributory factors to the possibility of the likely flooding at downstream flow of Ogun River.
He stressed that the same applies to all the channels and tributaries that discharges into the lagoon, which may experience tidal lock and flow back because of the high water level that prevent discharges, leading to flash flooding.
He said: “Since Oyan River is one of the major tributaries to Ogun River, it is expected that other tributaries will also contribute much to the likely flood downstream flow of Ogun River In mitigating the flood this year, the Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority.
“As at the end of end of August, the Ogun-Osun River Basin has increased its daily releases to 21.4 million cubic meters (mcm) Volume of Water to create more space in order to regulate the expected inflow of water from the Catchment Upstream in September. Water releases might rise to average of 22.0 – 24.0mcm per day, this amount of water that will be released shall depend on rate at which water flows into the reservoir and the height measured in the reservoir.”
He, however, said that Lagos has nothing to fear from the planned release of water from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroun to Benue River.
Shodeinde said that only 11 states – Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Cross River – will be affected by the releases. “There is obviously no connection between the Lagdo Dam releases and operations of Oyan Dam and the water releases Forecast for Flood Control in Lagos and Ogun State,” the official said.
In Nasarawa, Governor Abdullahi Sule told those living on river banks to relocate as precaution against the predicted flooding, noting that the state has been listed as one of the endangered areas.
The governor assured that his administration will support victims of the rainstorm that destroyed government and private buildings in Nasarawa Local Government Area.
Sule gave the assurance during an on-the-spot assessment of the affected structures. He was represented by his deputy, Dr. Emmanuel Akabe.
The lawmaker representing the Nasarawa Central State Constituency Hajarat Danyaro, hailed the governor for his passion for her constituents.
Save our soul, Bayelsa residents cry out
Residents of Otuoke community in the Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa have called on the Federal and State governments for intervention against predicted flooding.
Otuoke Community Development Association Chairman, John Okubowei, made the plea Sunday during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The community leaders listed Ebirimo, Ologakpo, Elabio and Okiko as the areas needing intervention.
He noted that the association had identified canals, creeks and some blocked natural waterways, which needed to be opened to avoid a repeat of the 2022 flood disaster in the community.
Okubowei said the community, as a kind self-help following her experiences in the 2012 and 2022 ravaging floods, had since cleared the blocked natural waterways and even pulled down structures erected on them.
According to him, the community did not have the wherewithal to procure equipment and manpower to desilt creeks and canals identified as possible flood flashpoints.
Otuoke is the hometown of former Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. The Federal University in Bayelsa State is also located in the community.
The former president’s country home was among the worst-hit by the 2022 flooding, which wreaked havoc on humans and infrastructure.
The flood displaced many residents and destroyed properties, even as warnings have been given to signal another impending flood few months from now.
The community leader said: “In 2012, this community like many others in and outside Bayelsa suffered from ravaging floods. Last year 2022, this community was among the worst-hit by floods in the state.
“Though in 2012, because we quickly raised alarm, succour also came our way quickly. However, the community didn’t receive much attention during the 2022 floods.
“We’re calling on the Federal and state governments, all stakeholders and all relevant agencies of the government to come to our aid.
“The government should build Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps and other facilities which will cater for the needs of the community as the floods are coming.
“Government must not wait until the floods start proper before putting these structures in place. It may be too late then.
“Luckily, we have identified creeks, canals and other channels through which the floods affect this community. “But as we speak, we’ve not seen the government clearing any of the blocked canals or creeks in this community like they’ve done in some parts of the state.”
.Additional reports from Akinade Feyisayo/ Ibadan, Kenneth Ibinabo/ Yenagoa and Friday Ajagunna/ Abuja