By Jude Atupulazi
Even as many Nigerians have become refugees in their own land owing to massive flooding that has sacked many communities in riverine areas in the country, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development Sadiya Umar Farouq, has warned state governments, local government areas and community leaders, especially in Anambra, Delta, Cross River, Rivers and Bayelsa States, of more floods in the coming weeks. She therefore advises state governments to begin evacuation of persons living along water channels and other areas obstructing the flow of water.
The minister made this known at a media briefing on Sunday in Abuja, while enumerating government’s efforts in mitigating the disaster in the country which she described as overwhelming.
Umar Farouq noted that despite concerted efforts to avert the consequences of the 2022 flooding season as forecast by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, many state governments did not prepare for the floods. She said that as a result, the toll of lives lost and property damaged had risen astronomically.
‘Unfortunately, over 603 lives have been lost as of today October 16 ( last Sunday) 2022. A total of 1,302,589 persons have been displaced; 2,504.095 persons have been affected on the whole, 2,407 persons have been injured; a total of 82,053 houses are completely damaged while 121,318 are partially damaged. 108,392 hectares of farmland were partially destroyed, while 332,327 hectares were totally destroyed; including many roads and other critical infrastructure.
‘While we mourn the unfortunate boat mishap in Anambra State and other locations, please we must note that we are not completely out of the woods because the Meteorological Agencies are warning that States like Anambra, Delta, Cross River, Rivers and Bayelsa are still at risk of experiencing floods up till the end of November.
‘We are calling on the respective state governments, local government councils and communities, to prepare for more flooding by evacuating people living on flood plains to high grounds, provide tents and relief materials, fresh water, as well as medical supplies, for possible outbreak of water borne diseases,’ she advised.
Meanwhile, a high powered delegation set up by the ministry is to visit state governors to advocate more commitment to strengthening states’ response mechanisms as stipulated in the National Flood Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan.
The stakeholders are expected to work within their respective mandates to prevent deaths due to flooding or other health related diseases that may arise.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Nasir Sani Gwarzo, is to lead a delegation to Cameroon next month to discuss the periodic opening of the Lagdo Dam with the authorities.
The National Flood Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan will soon be implemented for better coordination of flood response protocol, as well as a sectoral approach to flood management at the national and sub-national levels.
Meanwhile, almost all the 36 states and the FCT have received food and non food items to mitigate various forms of disaster. The Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Alhaji Mustapha Habib Ahmed, made this known at the briefing.
‘Information stating that the federal government’s presence is not in the states affected by flood is false. We are in every state of the federation. Relief has gone to every state of the federation and we thank the Commander-in-Chief and President, Muhammadu Buhari and the honorable minister. We will continue to do our best to provide for the country,’ he assured.
At the briefing was the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Nasir Sani Gwarzo; Heads of the Agencies and Directors of the Ministry.