Flooded parts of the Kogi State

NEMA downplays flooding risks in nine states over Lagdo dam opening

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National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has downplayed fears of a major flood crisis in the country following the decision by the Cameroun Government to open the Lagdo Dam exposing some Nigerian states around the River Benue to flooding.

Flooded parts of the Kogi State

According to NEMA, it is ‘working with critical stakeholders at the Federal, States and Local Governments to ensure that the release will not cause much negative impacts on the low-lying communities along the states that would be affected.

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It would be recalled that Cameroun had sent out a notice of its plans to open the Lagdo Damto free water into the River Benue, a move which risks exposes low-lying communities around the  river to heavy floodings.

The communities are drawn from nine states in Nigeria, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Edo, Delta and Bayelsa.

The notice of the opening of the dam was communicated to Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs by its Cameroonian counterpart.

The announcement led the nation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to serve a notice on the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA).

In a letter signed by the Director African Affairs, Ambassador Umar Salisu on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Director General of NEMA, was put on notice of the decision of Cameroon.

The letter titled: “Cameroonian Officials to Open the Flood Gates of the Lagdo Dam on the Benue River in Cameroon,” read: “I have the honour to inform that the Ministry is in receipt of a Note Verbale from the High Commission of the Republic of Cameroon informing that Cameroonian officials have resolved to open the flood gates of the Lagdo Dam on the Benue River in days ahead due to the heavy rainfall around the Dam catchment area in Northern Cameroon.

Salisu said: “According to the Note, 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.”

However, NEMA in response, through its spokesperson, Mr Manzo Ezekiel, on Monday, allayed fears of flooding in the nearby states, adding that it had ‘envisaged this release of excess water from the Lagdo dam.’

“National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) wishes to allay fears of Nigerians over the planned release of the excess water from Lagdo dam, which is located on River Benue in the Republic of Cameroon.

“The Agency is working with critical stakeholders at the Federal, States and Local Governments to ensure that the release will not cause much negative impacts on the low-lying communities along the states that would be affected.

“The states on the downstream of River Benue are Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Enugu, Edo, Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa States.

“The Agency envisaged this release of excess water from the Lagdo dam, taken note of the likely impacts and considered in the preparations for mitigation and response to the 2023 flood alert.”

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