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NEMA meets UN agencies, Armed Forces, others on looming floods

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The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) yesterday met with the Nigerian Armed Forces, United Nations agencies and Federal Road Safety Corps(FRSC) over looming floods in parts of the country.

The agency advised governments of 11 states, including Rivers, Anambra, Adamawa and Benue, to ensure that the residents of flood plains were quickly relocated to safe grounds.

Other states that the agency said would be hit by floods in the coming days are Taraba, Nasarawa, Kogi, Enugu, Edo, Delta and Bayelsa.

UN agencies represented at the Abuja meeting were the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS),  the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and  World Food Programme (WFP).

The Armed forces had representatives from the Army, Air Force and Navy. The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and Nigerian Red Cross also had representatives at the parley that held less than 24 hours after the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) alerted that heavy rains would hit the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and 29 states for three days.

The Director-General of the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), Clement Nze, who early this week disclosed that the release of water from the dam would only affect Numan in Adamawa State, was also present.

NEMA Director-General Mustapha Ahmed said it was necessary for relevant stakeholders to prepare ahead because, water from the Lagdo Dam, if released by Cameroonian authorities, would compound the flood situation in Nigeria.

He said 11 states and others downstream of the Niger and Benue rivers must make serious efforts to address and mitigate the impacts of the impending floods.

Ahmed said: “This particular meeting has been necessitated by the notification received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the modulated release of water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon on the Benue River.

“The country(Cameroon) has commenced release of water from the dam at the rate of 200 cubic meters per second which is about 18 million cubic meters of water per day.

“This release may result in all front-line states experiencing flooding in subsequent days and weeks. It is of great importance to also note that the dam might commence full discharge of excess water in the event that the region experiences a heavy amount of rainfall.

“As we all know, coordination is a vital component of disaster management which needs adequate attention to ensure timely and efficient response.

“Part of the efforts that should be taken by all stakeholders, especially state governments,  to prepare for and mitigate possible flood disaster this year, include; immediate evacuation of Nigerians from various communities to safer destinations,   clearing of drainages and readiness to embark on rescue missions.

“To ensure effective coordination and implementation of various policies therefore, the agency has dimmed it fit to invite critical stakeholders to deliberate on how to respond and mitigate the flood we are currently being faced with in Nigeria.

“We have already started experiencing floods in some parts of the country this year with the rainfall. The release from the Lagdo Dam will only worsen the flood situation and we therefore call for concerted effort so as to address and mitigate the impact.”

He also said the forum was an avenue for critical stakeholders to strategise and ensure that the release does not cause much negative impact on the low-lying communities in the state that would be affected.

The NEMA boss restated immediate evacuation of Nigerians by states from their various communities to safer destinations should be carried out to avert disaster this year.

He, however,  called on Nigerians to remain calm as the agency would continue to work with other government partners to provide food and non-food items to those that might be affected.

Nze said there was no cause for alarm over the Lagdo dam as his agency was monitoring the situation from it.

He also advised Nigerians,  agencies and stakeholders charged with disaster response and reduction  to  put in place measures to mitigate and avert eventual flood disaster

Nimet had on  Tuesday warned  that 29 states and the Federal Capital Territory(FCT) would be affected by thunderstorms  and strong winds that would  accompany  heavy rains

It added that the rains would cause flash floods, poor visibility and damage to weak structures.

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