Remarks by the Director General National Emergency Managment Agency (NEMA), Muhammad Sani-Sidi at the emergency meeting on the release of water from Lagdo dam, In the republic of Cameroon held on 28th august, 2012 At NEMA Headquarters, Abuja
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I welcome you to this emergency meeting which is borne out of the desire to quickly address the challenges we face by the sudden release of excess waters from the reservoir of Lagdo Dam in the Republic of Cameroon. As you may be aware Lagdo dam is located on the Adamawa Plateau of the Northern Province of the Republic of Cameroon which shares border with the north-eastern States of Borno, Adamawa and Taraba States of Nigeria.
The primary outflow of the dam is River Benue, the second largest river in Nigeria’s drainage system. The Benue River which takes its source from the same Adamawa Plateau in the Cameroons flows through the lowland elevations of Adamawa, Taraba and Benue States before meeting river Niger in Lokoja, Kogi State.
The steep elevation of the Adamawa Plateau coupled with the sudden release of excess waters on 24th August, 2012 has therefore created a great risk of inundation of the lowland communities of north eastern Nigeria especially those located within the river Benue drainage basin. This sudden release of a large volume of cascading waters from the reservoir has put so many communities in this area at risk; threatened human lives, disrupted socio-economic activities, led to environmental degradation and large scale ecological dislocation.
Report from the High Commission of the Republic of Cameroon received on 23rd August, 2012 indicated that if the trend of heavy rainfall experienced this year continues in the next few weeks, more water will be released from the reservoir till October this year. Ladies and gentlemen, permit me to recall that upon receiving the report of the imminent release of this large volume of water from the Cameroonian Embassy in Nigeria, we contacted all the Governors of the frontline States of Borno, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue and their respective SEMAs to warn them about the impending floods. We requested them to alert their communities-at-risk through relevant communication procedures especially the local media on the urgent need to avoid socio-economic activities along flood plains and relocate to safer grounds where necessary.
The Zonal Coordinators for the North East and North Central Zonal Offices of NEMA have also been directed to liaise with relevant stakeholders and the State SEMAs to sustain public sensitisation on the dangers of the floods and the need to take necessary proactive measures to avoid the risk to human lives and the loss of properties.
Today’s meeting, is therefore convened to consider the flood scenario of the National Contingency Plan (NCP) and discuss the various proactive measures that can be employed to mitigate the impeding floods and the attendant risk to the lives and the livelihoods of the communities in the affected States. This strategic forum is also to deliberate on the activation of the relevant clusters in the NCP, synergize with relevant line MDAs to address any possible humanitarian challenges that will arise from the release of the flood waters.
The meeting is also to receive a brief from the Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMWR) on the flood scenario anticipated during the ongoing emergency and the near future in the affected States in order to take rational and long term decisions that will mitigate the impacts of the floods and avoid threat to lives, the loss of properties and other negative environmental cost. I am pleased to inform you that the North East Zonal Office of the Agency is right now on the ground and working assiduously with the respective SEMAs to compile assessment reports, establish Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, and provide necessary relief materials and first aid in collaboration with our local humanitarian partners. Reports reaching us from Adamawa State have confirmed that out of the 10,524 affected persons in 10 Local Government Areas, 15 people have lost their lives.
Based on assessment reports so far received, approval has been granted for further delivery relief intervention while Agency will soon commence working with the relevant authorities for the rehabilitation of the affected communities. Let me therefore use this opportunity to once more request you to incorporate necessary Disaster Risk Reduction strategies in the discharge of your respective statutory mandates and assist in sensitising the public on the dangers associated with the human habitation of flood-prone localities in our communities. This has become necessary, if we must break the quite often predictable and annually repetitive flood disasters across the nation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me therefore implore all of you as critical stakeholders to use this forum to brainstorm and exchange ideas from your diverse professional perspectives and come out with holistic, sustainable and affordable ways by which we shall together confront this impending catastrophe. I further implore you to explore and proffer long term measures that can be put in place to avert the future occurrence of this potentially devastating flood and enhance the resilience of the affected communities in particular and the nation at large.
Let me also use this opportunity to express my profound gratitude to all our stakeholders for honouring our invitation to attend this meeting at short notice and appreciate the friendly disposition of the Cameroonian Embassy in Nigeria for the timely alert on the impending floods. Such typical African solidarity and benign neighbourliness is exemplary and worthy of emulating. I thank you all for the continuous support especially in the deployment of your personnel and assets whenever we solicit for your support.
I wish to assure you of Nema’s sustained support and cooperation to minimise disaster risks and build stronger and more resilient communities in line with our respective Standard Operational Procedures and Rules of Engagement.
Thank you all and God bless.