Massive Flooding Expected In Many States As Cameroon Plans To Open Dam

Some states in Nigeria are likely to witness massive flooding in the coming days as Cameroon is set to open the Lagdo Dam situated on the Benue River.

The states, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), are Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Plateau, Gombe and Bauchi.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a memo dated August 25, 2023, alerted NEMA of a note verbale from the Cameroonian High Commission that officials had resolved to open the floodgates of the Lagdo Dam in days ahead due to the heavy rainfall around the dam’s catchment area in Northern Cameroon.

“It is pertinent to note that when the release of water becomes necessary, the authorities of the Lagdo Dam will be releasing only modulated variable small amount of water at a time in order to mitigate and avoid damages that the released water may cause along the River Benue basin in both Cameroon and in Nigeria.

“In view of the above, it would be appreciated if the esteemed agency takes all the necessary proactive steps and actions that will mitigate the damage as well as sensitize the populace living in such areas for vigilance and all necessary precautions,” the ministry stated.

The Federal Government had said 3,219,780 persons were affected by last year’s flood which, as of October 24, left 1,427,370 persons internally displaced, 2,776 injured and 612 killed.

Stakeholders have always attributed recurring threats of flooding from the Lagdo Dam to Nigeria’s failure to construct the Dasin Hausa Dam, along the River Benue, that would absorb water from the Ladgo Dam as jointly agreed in 1982.

The immediate past Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, had, last year, alleged that Nigeria was not informed by Cameroon on the annual release of water from the Lagdo Dam.

“The dam releases water; sometimes, it releases water without notice and when they do that, it has impact on communities downstream.

“It took a lot of effort for us and them to sign an MoU for them to be informing Nigeria about releases.

“It was signed in 2016. Since then, every year, when the flood season comes, it is the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency that calls them to know their level of water.

“We cannot blame the flood this (last) year on Cameroon. We can only blame them for violating the terms of the MoU,” Adamu had said during a budget defence at the Senate.

He added that whether the government was able to construct the Dasin Hausa Dam or not, “we’ll continue to have floods on the Rivers Niger and Benue Basins.

“There was a consultant that had been appointed by the previous administration to work on this dam. When I came into office, I checked the scope of work and the terms of reference. I was not satisfied that justice will be done to that design.

“You cannot build a dam as important and strategic as Dasin Hausa on River Benue without a detailed feasibility and engineering design.

“I disengaged the consultant in 2016. It was one of the 116 projects that we had.

“In our roadmap, we made a decision that going forward, we have enough dams, 37 ongoing. We cannot take any new dam, let’s complete what is ongoing.

“We appointed a consultant to do the required diligent feasibility study and engineering design for the project,” Adamu had said.

The Senate had, in July, urged the government to revisit the proposed construction of Dasin Hausa Dam, to be situated at Dasin village in Fufore LGA of Adamawa State, to take in the flood waters from the Lagdo Dam.

Senators cited the 2023 annual flood outlook prepared by Nigeria Hydrological Services indicating that 178 local government areas in 32 states and the FCT fell within the highly probable flood-risk areas.


FEC to discuss construction of Dasin Hausa Dam

A director at the Ministry Resources and Sanitation, told Daily Trust yesterday that though Nigeria signed an MoU with Cameroon to build the Dasin Hausa Dam, the government had not jettisoned the project.

The official said the minister, Joseph Terlumun Utsev, “will table the issue at the Federal Executive Council and that the country will be updated as discussion progresses.”

The new water resources minister, in his reaction to the plan by Cameroon to release water from Lagdo Dam, said the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency noted an increase in the volume of flow along the River Benue system, registering a flow level of 8.97 meters.

According to the minister, the volume is higher compared to the same time last year.

He called on all levels of government to heighten the level of preparedness and deploy appropriate measures to minimize the potential impact of flooding.

“States and local governments should intensify efforts in clearing blocked drainages and also construct new ones where they do not exist, and removal illegal structures constructed within the floodplains.”

Utsev recalled that previous releases from the dam had resulted in flooding in some states in the country.

He said key recommendations to mitigate the impact of the impending flood included relocating individuals residing along river banks to higher grounds, intensifying drainage maintenance and constructing new drainage systems.


NEMA lists states at risk, urges relocation

The spokesman of NEMA, Manzo Ezekiel, in a chat with Daily Trust yesterday, said any release of excess water from the Lagdo Dam would directly affect Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa and Kogi States “in the first instance.”

“From Kogi downstream to Delta State, if there’s an increase of water coming from Niger State, it means their own will be a bigger challenge. That is one. Secondly, these are states that are directly on the river, there are some other states that are largely affected because the river is sealed and they don’t have free flow of water, it means those places are also likely to be flooded and what that means is that some parts of Gombe, Plateau, Bauchi will be affected.

“The primary states are the ones that are located along the river pathways, but the other ones are likely to be affected as a result of the effect of the water.”

He said the release of excess water from the Lagdo Dam was not a surprise to NEMA as the agency had, in its flood preparation for the year.

He said NEMA had alerted state governors of the possibility of flooding and that most of them had been responding positively by clearing blocked water channels and pathways that usually cause flash floods.

He said the agency had also advised the governors to set aside funding for disasters, including flooding.

Ezekiel said NEMA had been telling the states before now to move people to “locations that would not lead to their being flooded this year.”

He said: “The release of the water is a discrete action that the Lagdo Dam managers are facing. So, to some extent, it calls for concern.

“We’re not raising the red flag, but if the release of the water becomes more frequent, that is, more than what they are doing so far, and there is need for us to raise the red flag, we would do it. But for now, what we’re saying is that people should stay away from flood areas.”


States react

Muhammad Sulaiman, Executive Secretary, Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency, said his agency had presupposed some relief materials, identified high grounds for evacuation, arranged simulation with marine police and other relevant paramilitary agencies.

He said the 21 LGAs had been asked to enlighten their people so that they would not resist evacuation when the disaster comes.

Director, Planning and Research, Benue State Ministry of Environment and Water Reources, Emmanuel Ongaji, told Daily Trust yesterday that plans to contain the impact of the impending flood had been mapped out and information shared with relevant agencies in the state.

Nasarawa State Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, Yakubu Kwanta, said the government had directed residents of flood-prone areas to relocate to safer grounds.

He also said arrangements had been concluded to demolish structures built on waterways.

Taraba State Commissioner for Information, Zainab Usman Jalingo, advised residents of areas along the River Benue to relocate. She listed the most vulnerable LGAs as Gassol, Karim_Lamido, Ardo Kola, Wukari and Ibbi.

Jigawa State Governor Umar Namadi, in a recent interview with Daily Trust, said the state government had gone far in building embankments in flood-prone areas to reduce the impact of flood.

Asked if his government would construct dams as part of long-term solutions, Namadi said “Dams, you know, are not easy as they’re very expensive. But we have this as part of our long-term plans.”


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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