ABUJA — Fears of substantial flooding have surged in several states as Cameroon has commenced the opening of the Lagdo Dam. The Nigerian states, positioned in regions susceptible to flood disasters caused by such dam releases, are taking proactive measures to avert potential loss of life and property.
In a recent communication addressed to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Cameroonian government signaled its intent to release water from the Lagdo Dam and advised NEMA to undertake precautionary measures.
Reacting to this development, states like Lagos, Benue, and Delta, which are particularly vulnerable to flooding due to such dam discharges, have initiated measures to encourage residents of flood-prone areas to relocate to higher ground.
Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA) responded to Cameroon’s alert, assuring its readiness to swiftly handle any arising emergencies. Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, the Permanent Secretary of LASEMA, stated that the state government has equipped LASEMA with 144 facilities capable of accommodating up to 5,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in case of emergencies.
He elaborated on the state’s preparations: “Lagos is well prepared. LASEMA has evolved from management to holistic emergency management. We’ve shifted our focus to enhanced strategies like canal clearing and empowering local governments with local response units, known as Environmental Guard.”
He added, “We’ve engaged with all 57 local government chairmen to put primary emergency responders on alert. We’re strengthening our local response mechanism, conducting risk assessments, resource mapping, and directory creation to identify vulnerable individuals in emergency situations. These measures are aimed at ensuring a rapid and effective response.”
Benue State also took action, with the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) directing residents situated on floodplains to relocate to safer areas and evacuate clogged drainages. This move came in response to the Federal Government’s alert about the impending flood due to the release of water from the Lagdo Dam.
In response to the situation, NEMA emphasized that the warning wasn’t new, as the agency had previously notified state governors about the potential for floods, including those stemming from the Lagdo Dam.
NEMA’s spokesperson, Manzo Ezekiel, underscored the preparedness of the agency and the need for state governments to collaborate in securing lives and property. “NEMA has communicated with all the state governments, especially those likely to be affected by the dam release. Our preparations were well underway. The time has come for the states to translate the awareness into action, urging residents near river areas to establish evacuation plans.”
Ezekiel emphasized the potential consequences of the water release, stating, “The release of water can result in overflowing river banks. NEMA is fully prepared, and our readiness was in place well before this situation arose.”