By Palma Ileye
Director General, National Orientation Agency, NOA, Dr Garba Abari has called for support to assist victims of floods ravaging the country.
Abari made this call yesterday at a press briefing to intimate newsmen on the state of flooding in the country at the NOA Headquarters in Abuja.
He said that, “On the 3rd of August 2022, the National Orientation Agenc, NOA, held a stakeholders meeting in Abuja aimed at brainstorming and developing strategies to tackle the menace of flooding and its consequential effect on the livelihood of citizens.
“Stakeholders from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies participated in that conversation. One of the takeaways from that engagement was that NOA would play an active role towards disseminating credible and relevant information at the grass root level.
“Consequently, the NOA, in collaboration with Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NIMET, embarked on a one-day workshop for the 36 State Directors and the FCT, as well as and the 12 Headquarters’ Directors.
“The aim of the workshop, which held in Abuja on the 16th of August 2022, was to build the capacity of State Directors for effective communication, messaging and information dissemination of NIMET’s warnings and activities in their respective states.
“In mid-September this year, the NOA had cause to direct its grassroots mobilization officers to begin sensitization of communities in the flood frontline states to immediately relocate as the operators of Lagdo Dam in Cameroon had commenced the discharge of excess water from its reservoir with a likely flooding of 14 states in Nigeria.”
He stated that NOA State Directors were directed to create awareness on the need for State Governments to identify safe high grounds for evacuation of communities at risk, preposition adequate stockpiles of food and non-food items, portable water and hygiene and provide safety and security to enable them have fair level of comfort during periods of possible displacement.
He said that the directive followed the alert already issued by both NIMET and Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, NIHSA, with prediction of consequential damage to many communities on the coast of Rivers Niger and Benue.
“The predicted damages would be similar to those caused by the 2012 flooding, such as cutting off some roads, washing away farmlands, submerging houses and displacing communities with huge adverse economic impact.
“Sadly, the realities of the predicted floods and their devastating impacts are upon us today.
“Our September warning was based on a report from NIHSA and NIMET which indicated that the Lagdo Dam operators in the Republic of Cameroun had commenced the release of excess water from the reservoir by 13 September 2022. We are aware that the released water cascades down to Nigeria through River Benue through its tributaries, thereby inundating communities that have been already impacted by heavy precipitation.
“The released water was bound to complicate the situation further downstream as Nigeria’s inland reservoirs, including Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro were already expected to overflow between September and October ending. At the time, NIHSA has reported that Kainji and Jebba Dams had already started spilling excess water from their reservoirs.
“Indeed, NIHSA had in its 2022 Annual Flood Outlook released on 12 May 2022 indicated that 223 LGAs in 32 states and the FCT fall within highly probable flood risk areas, while 212 LGAs in 35 states of the federation fall within the moderately probable risk areas. It also anticipated coastal flooding in Rivers, Delta, Lagos and Bayelsa States due to rise in sea level and tidal surge. However, in this year’s flooding, data from the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, reveal that 33 states, including the FCT, have been affected by floods.
“The frontline states and communities along the courses of Rivers Niger and Benue are suffering from the serious consequences of flooding as predicted. These states include Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa, Enugu, Kebbi, Kogi and Imo. Others include the Niger Delta states of Edo, Delta, Anambra, Cross-River, Rivers and Bayelsa States,” he informed.
The DG noted that reports by NEMA indicated that over 600 lives have been lost; over 2400 persons injured; about 1,302,589 persons have been displaced; over 2.5 million persons have been affected, one way or another; about 332,327 hectares of farmlands have been totally destroyed; 82,052 houses partially damaged; 121,318 houses totally destroyed beyond repair; and property worth several hundred millions damaged in what is, arguably, the worst flooding and humanitarian crisis we have experienced in our recent history.
He continued, “In Bayelsa State alone, over 700,000 persons have been displaced in over 300 communities all the eight Local Government Areas of the state and, quite disturbingly, even corpses have been washed out from their graves by the flood.
“This humanitarian crisis is stretching the contingency plans of most of the affected states to their limits. Yet, it is instructive to note the recent warning from NIMET that despite concerted efforts to mitigate the consequences of the 2022 flooding, states like Anambra, Delta, Cross River, Rivers and Bayelsa are still at risk of experiencing floods up till the end of November this year.
“Reports from NOA field officers indicate that in Yobe State, communities in at least two local government areas – Gulani and Gujba – have been submerged by floods. The affected communities include Buni Yadi, Buni Gari, Katarko, Kukuwa, Likdir, Dokshi and Bumsa. Two bridges connecting communities in the affected areas have reportedly collapsed and lives have been lost to the floods. In Plateau State, particularly in Jos North Local Government Area, the Dilimi, Nasarawa, Congo Rosha, Angwan Rogo, Rikkos and Zangam communities have been impacted by flooding, leading to the destruction of residential houses and bridges.
“In Niger State, the flooding situation has completely displaced communities in Baro, Kacha and parts of Gurara. Taye and Epogi communities have emptied into Kacha community. In all the affected communities, markets and schools are closed down while farmlands are washed away. In Anambra State, we are aware of the drowning of 56 women in a boat escaping from the flooding in Anam. Anam is a community very deep in the River Niger plain. Until recently when the State Government built a bridge connecting it to the Local Government Headquarters, it relied completely on water vessels for its transportation. Other communities affected in Anambra State are Iyiowa, Odekpe, and indeed, all the communities of Ogbaru Local Government Area of the state.
“The story of the situation in Bayelsa State is well known by now. All the local government areas in the state are in the grip of flooding. Schools are closed, markets are closed, government offices are closed with the major access to the state, the East – West Road flooded. We wish to thank the Nigerian Airforce and the Navy for their interventions which include the conveying of people across communities and the aerial drop of relief materials in communities deep inside the flooded areas.
“Kogi is another example of a bad situation. The whole of Ibaji Local Government Area has been submerged with many of the people escaping to the neighbouring Enugu State. Several thousand hectares of rice farmland have been washed off. In Idah Local Government Area, the flooding affected the riverine markets with Inikpi Market closed down. In Lokoja, while the main express road leading to Abuja is free now, those moving to Ajaokuta need to exercise caution as the Ganaja part of the road is still flooded. The neighbouring Enugu State has reported flooding in five communities of Uzo-uwani Local Government Areas. They include Igga, Ojjor, Ogrugu, Asaba and Adani. The Adarice farm settlement, which is one of the rice production sites in the state, has been threatened by the flooding surge. Imo State has recorded over 80,000 people displaced from over 33 communities in Ohaji-Egbema and Oguta Local Government Areas with schools closed and markets sacked.
“The situation calls for urgent intervention by all and sundry. It is, by no means, a burden that government alone can bear. The existential challenge of the current flooding in parts of Nigeria is one of such national trying moments that call for every one of us to summon that humanity and brotherly compassion that Nigerians are known for. We must rise up to answer the clarion call of being our brothers’ keepers in this time of need. It is a time when those who can help must reach out a hand to those who need help.
Abari further stated that the NOA objective was clear about what was need to be done as an institution in cases like this adding that, “Our mandate requires the Agency to encourage the people to actively and freely participate in discussions and decisions on matters affecting the general welfare of all Nigerians and our country. We therefore call on all citizens, individual and corporate, to mobilize and send aids to flood ravaged individuals and communities, both in Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps and elsewhere. Faith based organizations and non-governmental organizations are particularly encouraged to organize and mobilize their members to provide relief to affected communities.
The Director General called on the general public to provide aids such as foodstuff, drinking water, beddings, blankets, wrappers, camping gas, cooking utensils, detergents, sanitary packs, toiletries, mosquito nets and medications to the victims of flood.
“These aids, be they financial, material or physical, will go a long way to ameliorate the sufferings of our compatriots. Indeed, even within affected communities, those who are least affected should offer support to those who are more affected by offering food, clothes, shelter, help with evacuation and other forms of assistance.
“NOA is currently partnering with the Super Bike Clubs Association of Nigeria on a campaign to ensure food security, national cohesion and prevention of malaria in the aftermath of the floods. The campaign is a five-day event to promote eradication of malaria and water-borne diseases as well as food security in six focus states of Nasarawa Plateau, Gombe, Kano, Katsina and Kaduna. In doing this, we acknowledge the generous effort of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and the North East Development Commission in distributing relief materials to some of the affected communities. We also acknowledge the effort of some State Governments in this regard, including those of Bayelsa, Rivers, Kogi, Lagos, Anambra and Taraba.
“However, what needs to be done is for local government and community leaders to ensure that those whose sources of livelihood were affected are given pyscho-social support, including counselling and social safety assistance.
“The Community Orientation and Mobilization Officers of NOA have been directed to continue to sensitize communities on the need to stay put in their temporary locations until advised otherwise. They are also to take health and hygiene education to the communities,” he added.
He appealed to the press to intensify the performance of its agenda setting function by keeping the plights of affected compatriots in the front burners of national discourse with a view to bringing deserving attention to their ordeal and attracting the help they so urgently need from the well- meaning public.