For most Nigerians, this is not the best of times. Aside from other problems they are grappling with such as hunger, high cost of living and scarcity of essential commodities, they have to contend with floods which are ravaging states across the country. What most of the victims are crying out for now is an urgent solution to their plights and not relief materials being distributed across the country. OLUWATOSIN OMONIYI reports
For most residents living around towns that border Ogun and Lagos states, it is a nightmarish period.
A visit to some of the areas around Isheri-OPIC, down Channels Television road, Lagos Residential scheme by Caterpillar gate, Lekki Gardens Estate in Isheri, including Arigbede, Banku, back of Mikano and around Kara; it is no easy movement in and out of their houses. Canoe has become the main means of transportation in and out of their houses. Majority have moved out of their houses, gone about squatting with friends and relatives.
Sunday Telegraph found that most of the estates, communities and houses have been submerged in the current flood ravaging the states. The residents have been forced to vacate their houses and environments, parked their vehicles away from their houses, mechanics, or relatives that are not affected. And for those not opportune to have a place to park anywhere else, it becomes unfortunate for them as their vehicles too become submerged. Some are stranded, not knowing where to go or what to do. And some had anticipated the flood, as such, prepared for it but it seems they didn’t anticipate the extent of the flood.
Some residents are just too overwhelmed to seek for immediate solution of their current situation. In fact, it is a deplorable sight to witness helpless people, who are affected, watching their property submerged in the flood.
Simply put, they felt abandoned by government! Those with children were more helpless as they had nowhere to go with their children. A family told Sunday Telegraph that they had to beg the teachers of their three children to help accommodate two of the children, while their mechanic helped to accommodate their son.
It is even more pathetic for those who have helplessly accepted the situation as it is; they stayed back and found means to go about their lives inside their flooded environment. They cook, sleep and eat inside the flood.
For instance, the residents of Warewa area of Ogun State, sleep and wake inside the flood. They made plank upstairs inside their rooms, dividing the rooms, making it look like a duplex inside their compounds, thereby abandoning the ground floor to the flood.
“Truth is our government has abandoned us to this suffering because they are not directly concerned,” they said. Another estate called Statistic, has decided to make a lemonade out their lime by turning the flood to a hunting pool for fish, crocodile and other possible reptiles brought about by the flood.
Early in the morning, they hawk basket filled with fish, carry dead water snakes or crocodile for sale. Other residents around the flooded areas also have gone on hunting spree. “We know this is a passing phase. Therefore, we won’t kill ourselves. We will keep our hope alive. God will see us through,” the residents said.
The frontages of Mikano and other companies around there stretch to almost Tribune Newspapers (former Compass Newspapers area) along the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway have turned to temporary swimming pools.
Long story short, most residents in Lagos and especially Ogun State now live in perpetual fear of the flood. Once it rains, their fears heighten, fearing that the rain would add to the released water from the dams currently causing the flood.
Over 900 private and public buildings, as well as farmlands, and grains stored in barns worth millions of naira were destroyed as a result of flood in three local government areas of Plateau State including Kanam, Langtang North and Langtang South LGCs of the state.
While narrating their ordeal, some of the victims in the Garga district, Kanam, also area of Plateau state stressed that they were in deep trouble.
Rabiu Garga and Musa Gambo told Sunday Telegraph that due to heavy rainstorm and flood, residents could not pick anything from their homes but escaped as their homes were collapsing.
They appealed to the government and public-spirited persons to come to their aid as they are in urgent need of basic needs.
However, the Chairman of Kanam Local Government Area, Dayyabu Garga, said the disaster, which befell his people is “one too much for them to bear” as they are mostly peasant farmers.
The chairman, represented by the council’s Supervisory Councillor for Social Services, Mr Bala Zalli, who had visited the affected communities, where he gave assurance that “while the council looks at what support it can render immediately, relevant government authorities such as State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA; National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA and other good-spirited individuals are being contacted to come to the aid of the people as well.”
Also in Langtang North Local Government Area of the state recently, over 400 houses were submerged by flood in some parts of the locality such as Pilgani district for several days as a result of heavy rains.
The Executive Chairman of Langtang North council, Barrister Rimven Zulfa, said the council has taken record of the flooding areas as well as several displaced homes and families and they would look into it to also ensure that the necessary agencies are contacted, so that succour is provided to the people.
He lamented the situation and said: “We are still appealing to people living in flood-prone areas to please leave, as the danger of flooding is not yet over.”
He stated that his administration would continue to prioritise the interest and welfare of the people of the local government area whose mandate he holds in trust, in line with the vision of Governor Simon Lalong.
The Council boss assured the people of steps and modalities to tackle flooding in the various rural communities.
Sunday Telegraph gathered that several communities in Langtang South Local Government Area of Plateau State were two weeks ago ravaged by floods that destroyed properties, leaving hundreds of persons displaced.
It was learnt that the flood in Langtang South affected 13 communities, submerging about 220 houses with several farms affected. It was further gathered that some bridges leading to some communities were destroyed.
Residents of the affected communities told Sunday Telegraph that heavy rainfall which lasted for several hours led to the destruction of properties.
Emmanuel Nanpaki, who was affected, said several homes were submerged in Mabudi Lashel, Turaki, Gehetu, and Karkasi Magama amongst several other communities.
Nanak, who claimed he lost all his life’s savings, requested government assistance.
Another citizen, who gave his name Nankar Adams, said the flood disaster signals “an impending hunger in the locality,” because several major farmers were affected.
Efforts by Sunday Telegraph to get the response of the Commissioner for Environment in the state proved abortive as at the time of filling this report.
32 died, 49,953 persons displaced, more than 5000 farm lands washed away in Niger- NSEMA
In Niger State, about 32 lives have been lost to flood as a total of 49,953 persons have been displaced and 5,106 farm lands as well as residential houses have either been washed away or submerged by flood.
Following warnings by the Federal Government, the Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, has ordered the Ministry of Environment to collaborate with relevant Ministries and local government areas to demolish all structures built on waterways.
The governor said his action was part of ways of averting future occurrences and to curb the rate of damages caused by flooding. While giving the directive, he said, “on the technical side, we have to find a way to expand the river so that there will be free flow of water when it rains.
“A lot of them (villagers) were actually paid compensation to leave and they refused. So, we are just going to go ahead and bring down the houses along the waterlines. And be conscious of their Environments as the rains continue to fall.”
One of those that lost their family members as well as properties to the disaster, Mohammed Abubakar, said: “We have never experienced such flood in the past. I lost my son and we cannot continue to live in the school. We will go to my brother’s house.”
He, however, thanked the government for showing sympathy on people affected by the disaster and the donation of 100 fabrics, 500 bags of grains comprising rice, maize and millet as relief materials.
In an interview, the State Commissioner for Environment, Daniel Habila Galadima, assured the people that the required design for a lasting solution to the flooding will be ready by the end of 2022 and high level of sensitization will be made to avoid building on waterways.
Accordingly, he said: “By the time we solve the problem, there will be the need to create awareness, so that people will stop building along waterways and ensure that water bodies holdings shades are protected”.
Also, Emir of Kontagora, Alhaji Muhammadu Barau Mu’azu II, prayed the government to visit affected communities and send palliatives and relief materials to the flood victims.
Chairman of Kontagora Local Government Area, Alhaji Shehu Pawa, while confirming that 237 people were affected by the flood, said they recorded two deaths in Kontagora.
Another affected villager in Shiroro LG, Suleiman Allawa, said they are already experiencing the negative impact of the flooding with their houses, farmlands, bridges and link-roads washed away.
According to him: “Our fears are that by the time the four dams are opened, so many of us will be homeless. Currently, the little we have experienced has affected the socio-economic activities of our communities”.
The Director General, Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA), Ibrahim Inga, told Sunday Telegraph that so far, a total of 21 local governments, out of 25 were affected by the flood in the state.
The flooding in Niger State, according to the DG, was due to discharge of water from Kainji and Jebba hydro Dams located in Niger State.
According to Inga: “The Dams are releasing thousands of gallons of water per minute and it is going to lead to the overflow of River Niger”.
He revealed that those badly affected include Mokwa, Gbako, Lavun, Shiroro, Lapai, Munya and Wushishi of which, 86 communities have been severely displaced with many Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs camps being erected.
The DG said: “We have received help from Federal Government and an assessment team from the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, has visited the state for an on the spot assessment”.
Inga added that his agency has commenced distribution of relief materials brought by both state and Federal Governments to affected persons in the various LGAs in the state.
He then called on members of the public which include good spirited individuals, corporate bodies, non-governmental organisations, religious charitable institutions to assist victims by making donations to alleviate the suffering of the people affected as government cannot do it alone.”
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) while warning riverine communities in Niger State to start relocating to higher grounds to avert the impending flood, urged residents to clear their drainages to ensure free flow of waters.
The Head, NEMA Minna Operations Office, Hajiya Zainab 3Sa’idu, gave the warning in Minna, saying it was expedient for members of riverine communities to start moving to higher grounds because consistent rainfall would increase water levels of different rivers across the state.
According to her, the call became necessary following the 2022 Seasonal Climate Prediction that forecasted normal to above normal amount of rainfall across the country.
She stated:” This prediction is already playing in Niger State as there has been consistent rainfall in recent weeks after the brief spell dry experienced.
“It is expected that the phenomenon will reduce the absorption capacity of the soil thereby leading to mass runoff water on the soil surface. Drainages /culvert should be cleared for water to flow freely without affecting buildings”.
She also revealed that the increase in water levels would lead to flooding of houses, structures, farmlands in communities situated along river banks. “The 2022 seasonal climate prediction length of the growing season in Niger State is predicted to be longer in southern part of the state lasting for about 182 days in Agaie and Lapai Local Government Areas.”
“The length of season for Rafi, Shiroro and Munya would be from 154 to 163 days while Rijau will likely have less than 140 days, adding that the rainfall amount in southern part particularly in Agaie and Lapai would be 1460mm.
She further explained that the predicted rainfall amount for Munya, Wushishi, Mashegu, Bosso, Chanchaga and Paikoro would likely be from 1260mm to 1360mm while Rijau in northern part will experience below 1100mm.
Sa’idu then called on farmers in the areas to be guided by the statistics to avoid loss of wealth and livelihoods, adding that NEMA would continue to sensitise people on the risk around them to save lives and property.
“The state government hereby advises our communities to limit activities around River banks during this peak raining season to avoid being flooded. People living at riverine areas should relocate to safer grounds already identified.”
In Anambra State, Chris Okwuosa, Chairman, Umuzu Flood Management Committee told Sunday Telegraph that the experience of the community over the flood wasn’t pleasant.
He said: “We are used to it and we always expect the flood every year but sometimes it gets worse and comes with all the attendant challenges to life and property as well as our businesses.
“My first experience about flooding was in 1969 and I was about 10 years old and my family had to travel from Oguta to Okija and we were sent to go and harvest food at the flooded farms along with my elder sister.
We had to ride a canoe to that farm and I will enter the water and go down deep to harvest cassava and yams and my sister would collect it a keep in the canoe while I go back for more.
That 1969 flood was huge and much but we never knew that the one of 2012 would be as bad as it were and the level of destruction was too much. My fish nets were swept away by the flood and we had to trace those fishing nets to Ndoni in Rivers State.
We used the assistance of 16 soldiers, three flying boats and two trucks to go and recover those fishing nets and ponds and when we got there, the village urchins have vandalized those nets but we recovered all of them.”
He added: “Today, we have flooding that is more damaging than the one of 2012 because it appears to be happening every 10 years.”
Additional reports by Musa Pam, Dan Atori and Okey