Despite the warning that massive floods will soon hit the states along the River Benue, no evacuation of the residents of the vulnerable communities has begun, according to Daily Trust investigations.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, had urged the state governors to relocate the citizens from the flood-prone areas to safer locations as soon as possible, in order to prevent loss of lives and property. She made this appeal at a press conference in Abuja on Monday.
The minister had alerted that the release of water from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon would cause floods in all the states on the course of the River Benue within a week.
Before her statement, the National Emergency Management Agency had announced on Sunday that Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa, Taraba and Adamawa states would be directly affected, and that the impact would also extend to Plateau, Delta, Gombe, Bauchi and Cross River states.
NEMA had also reminded that it had advised the states to evacuate people from vulnerable communities even before the Lagdo Dam was opened.
Experts say Nigeria had not learnt any lesson despite suffering from flooding for many years with consequent loss of lives and property.
There was no visible permanent solution against flood in any of the frontline states, as people living around river banks only leave such places when they are threatened by the water; only to return to such hazardous places once the water level drops.
As the flood season approaches, many residents in Benue State are still living in danger zones despite the warnings from the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA). The agency’s Information Officer, Charity Agber, said that the state government had not provided any relocation site for the affected communities. She added that the agency had intensified its public awareness campaign to urge people to move to higher grounds.
However, the state’s Ministry of Environment and Water Resources spokesperson, Kelas Onum, said that the ministry had done its part and expected people to evacuate themselves from their homes. Some of the high-risk areas in Benue State, such as Gyado Villa, Kutcha-Utebe and Wurukum, have already witnessed some voluntary movements of residents.
In Lokoja, the situation is similar. Many residents of Adankolo, a flood-prone zone, have started to relocate to safer places in the city.
Meanwhile, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) said that it had deployed its human and material resources to assist the evacuation and relocation of people at the coastal zone.
“We have taken proactive measures, by restructuring all our regional offices; equipping them with the necessary personnel and materials.
“Materials like Life jackets and its likes have been provided in many of these our rehabilitated offices across the state, boats and ferries have been put in shape and stationed in some of our regional offices,” he said.
He added that the agency was set to carry people (refugees) free-of-charge to their various destinations in the event of flooding.