The release of a substantial surge of water from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon has prompted Nigerian states lining the River Benue’s course to prepare for potential flood catastrophes within their regions.
In an effort to avert potential fatalities and other calamities linked to flooding, states facing the possibility of impact are urging inhabitants in flood-prone localities to vacate these areas.
Officials from the National Emergency Management Agency have identified around 11 states—namely Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, and Cross River—that could experience adverse repercussions from the dam’s release.
These states issued advisories on Sunday, imploring residents to relocate from these vulnerable zones to safeguard human lives and valuable possessions.
Cameroon has notified the Nigerian Federal Government of its intent to open the Lagdo Dam. Umar Salisu, Director of African Affairs at the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, revealed in an August 21, 2023 letter that the ministry had received communication from the Cameroonian High Commission concerning the dam’s forthcoming release.
The letter, directed to the National Emergency Management Agency, conveyed, “I wish to inform that the ministry has received a Note Verbale from the High Commission of the Republic of Cameroon indicating that Cameroonian authorities have decided to open the flood gates of the Lagdo Dam on the Benue River in the coming days due to substantial rainfall in the dam’s catchment area in Northern Cameroon.”
The letter emphasized that water would be released cautiously in controlled amounts to minimize potential damage along the Benue River basin in both Cameroon and Nigeria.
In light of this situation, the states potentially affected by the dam’s opening confirmed their intention on Sunday to demolish structures along waterways. Some also designated certain schools to serve as shelters for internally displaced individuals.
Officials from the National Emergency Management Agency and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency highlighted that 11 states are situated along the River Benue’s trajectory and could be influenced by the Lagdo Dam’s release.
While they assured there was no immediate cause for alarm, the states identified as at risk are Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, and Cross River.
Ezikiel Manzo, Head of Media and Public Relations at NEMA, affirmed that the agency had informed state governors and offered guidance on mitigating potential flood impacts. He emphasized the importance of taking proactive measures to safeguard communities in the anticipated flood path.
Manzo underlined, “This indicates that the time has come for state governments along the River Benue axis to act on the information provided and take action to safeguard against this flood. They need to monitor communities in flood-prone areas and begin relocating them from danger zones.”
He also clarified that the initial water release might not necessitate a complete evacuation, depending on subsequent weather conditions.
Clement Nze, Director-General of the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, verified the communication’s authenticity and noted that water had been discharged from the dam prior to the letter’s arrival in Nigeria. He mentioned that the dam had been releasing water since August 14, 2023, at a controlled rate, and had subsequently reduced the volume released downstream. The flow was directed away from certain Nigerian states before reaching the Atlantic Ocean.