Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Water May Wipe Out Parts of South West, South South - Expert

Says ministries ignore warnings, Oyan and Lagdo Dams, cause of alarm , Victims turn oil platforms, boats to homes

As President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan continues his tour of flooded states across the country, a fresh alarm has been raised warning of a possible wipe out of the ancient town of Abeokuta, in Ogun State, and parts of Lagos State, both in the South West geo-political zone, and a substantial part of the South South Zone

The possibility of this calamitous development, Sunday Vanguard has been made to understand, could occur in the event that there is a collapse of the Oyan Dam, which is north of Abeokuta; just as the subsisting process of releasing water from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon, if sustained, would only continue to worsen the already terrible flooding conditions in the S/South zone.

An expert in flood management and control, Dr. Akingbola Omigbodun, gave this warning in an interactive session with editors of Vanguard.

Omigbidan, who disclosed that he had written letters to the Ministries of Environment, Water Resources as well as to the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, painted a frightening picture of what could happen in the event that the Oyan Dam collapses because of the huge volume of water it continues to hold:

"The dam is north of Abeokuta. Just imagine water that has been trapped, about 10 stories high, breaking a barrier and flowing downwards to Abeokuta. You asked what would happen!

"What you would have would be a major disaster Just imagine water 10 stories high rushing downwards. It would wipe out everything on its path. That is what would happen should the Oyan Dam collapse and with the way water is being held back by the authorities of the Ogun/Osun River Basin Development Authority, anything can happen", he warned.

An aerial view of submerged community in Rivers during President Jonathan's visit. Photo: State House

The flood management and control expert pointed out that some of the major reasons dams are built are not being addressed by those who should manage the dams.

According to him, dams are built for purposes of irrigation and power generation but these dams are not being used for these purposes and the way water is released 'wholesale' makes the ordinarily bad flooding situation worse for Nigerians.

He described a similar scenario happening in the north eastern flank of the country where, he said, waters from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon contribute dangerously to the downward river force of the River Benue.

"The waters from the Upper Volta into the River Niger and the waters from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon which rush into the River Benue, with the confluence at Lokoja, all come downwards to the Niger Delta and the states of the S/South zone. Yes the situation in that zone is very terrible but it would get worse because the force of the water is still moving downwards".

Oil platforms, boats as homes

Meanwhile, tales of woes occasioned by flood in Delta State continued, yesterday, as victims reportedly trapped in over 20 communities, including Ayakoromo, Bobogbene, Gbekebor, Obotobe in Burutu local government area turned oil platforms, boats and farmlands to makeshift homes to escape catastrophe.

The troubled victims called on the state government to evacuate and provide relief materials for them.

Also affected are Yayorogbene, Ekoro-gbene, Abegbene, Okwagbe, Ofonigbenghan, Ogbingbene, Newtown, Ekorogbene, Azibiri, Ogodobiri and Ogbin-ama communities.

Niger-Delta activist, Comrade Austin Ozobo, who hails from Ayakoromo, the country home of ex-militant leader, the late John Togo, told reporters that 10 children were rescued from flood, which had destroyed property worth millions of Naria.

Ozobo disclosed that a basket of garri was selling for N1,500 against the former N400 price; basket of beans - N1,700 against the former N1, 400 price; and basket of rice - 1,400 against the former N700 in riverside communities.

Ughelli evacuation

Also in Delta State, Ughelli Descendants Union, UDU, yesterday, evacuated over 1,000 Ughelli indigenes in Uduophori and Odorubu communities, Patani Local Government Area, Delta State from the areas after their homes and farmlands were submerged by flood.

The Ovie of Ughelli Kingdom, HRM Oharisi III, said the decision to evacuate the victims was necessitated by the danger posed by the flood in the affected communities. He said the kingdom was committed to the welfare of its subjects across the globe.

President General of the UDU, Chief Kenneth Iwhewhe, and Chief Miller Uloho, while receiving the victims at the Ughelli Kingdom hall, expressed concern on the pains the people were going through. While disclosing that the union had sent relief materials to some youths of the two communities they left behind to safeguard properties of the victims, they said those taking refuge in the Ughelli kingdom hall would also be provided with relief materials.

Dr. Stephen Oru, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, National Vice Chairman, South/South, noted that the recent flood which affected 12 Local Government Areas of Delta State was quite devastating and unprecedented in the history of the State.

Oru said: "What has happened in the affected areas of the state was a monumental tragedy. The affected communities have been sacked from their homes and thrown into uncertainty and hardship. Some communities have lost homes, farmlands, livestock, everything."

Oru, who spoke to newsmen after donating food items and blankets to the victims, said; "I wish to use this medium to call on Nigerians to demonstrate their religiousity (whatever their belief system may be) by being their brothers' keepers. Nigerians should participate in giving generously in the form of food items, clothing and beddings to ameliorate the sufferings of our fellow Nigerians in their moment of needs."

Heads of Personnel Management, HPM, in Ughelli North and Patani Local Government Councils, Mr Clement Anighoro and Christopher Aghara respectively, said the councils were mobilizing their health workers to man clinics that will attend to victims.

Tension in Bayelsa over diversion of victims food

Reports from Bayelsa State said Governor Seriake Dickson, yesterday, ordered immediate reorganization of the food distribution network to the internally displaced persons in the state following rising tension at the various relief centres over diversion of food earmarked for flood victims.

The governor also ordered the closure of a camp at the Kpanisa suburb illegally set up by some top government officials solely for non-indigenes, insisting that it was not in tandem with his administration restoration agenda of carrying everybody along irrespective of state of origin.

The centre, which had over 800 inmates, lacks potable water supply, electricity and toilet facility.

Dickson, who directed the state Commissioner of Police, Kingsley Omire, and the State Director of SSS, Andrew Iorkyar, to embark on a fact-finding tour of some of the centres for internally displaced persons in Yenagoa warned that any person caught diverting food for displaced victims would be arrested and made to face the full wrath of the law.

He also directed security agencies to arrest any person caught setting up an illegal camps in the state for flood victims.

The governor, who denied knowledge of the setting up of non-indigenes camp for the flood victims, ordered the immediate relocation of the over 800 internally displaced persons at the centre to the officially recognised Bishop Dimieri Grammar School BDGS and Sport Complex.

CLO seeks state of emergency

The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), in Bayelsa, yesterday, called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in states ravaged by flood.

The group, which volunteered to monitor how the funds earmarked for the flood victims by both the state and the Federal Government is utilized, lauded government's intervention at all levels especially Bayelsa State for the assistance offered to the flood victims.

Chairman of the group in Bayelsa, Comrade Nengi James, who spoke in Yenagoa during the inauguration of the state executives of the organization, also called on the international community and donor agencies to come to the aid of the country especially the flood devastated states.

"In the last couple of weeks, our communities, villages and homes have been invaded by devastating flood, thousands have been displaced, villages submerged with crops, livestocks and properties washed away. What more can one say, the effect of climate change is staring us right in our face, and the ugly consequences of human activities are here with us," James said.

"It is time for the authorities to rise up to the occasion, enough of palliatives, enough of piece meal, half hearted measures; it is time for pragmatic and time tested solutions. The CLO is prepared to lead the way"..

NMA donates

THE Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, yesterday, provided relief materials to victims of the flood disaster in Delta State.

NMA national president, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, who is on a nationwide tour of flood-ravaged communities in the country, handed over the materials, which include mosquito nets, drugs and other medical supplies, to the state government through the state Commissioner for Special Duties, Delta State, Mr. Tony Nwaka.

Osahon and other NMA leaders visited the victims at the Institute of College of Education, ICE, camp and other rehabilitation camps in the state and urged them not to lose hope as government was up and doing in providing their immediate medical and material needs.

GOVERNORS COUNSELLED ON RELIEF MATERIALS

In the meantime, governors of the states affected by flood have been urged to appoint only credible persons into the committees they set up to distribute relief materials to victims.

Former acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Pastor Power Aginighan, who made the appeal in Port Harcourt after a visit to some of the flood ravaged communities in Delta State, said most victims were still displaced in most of the areas he went to.

According to him, there was hunger traced to destruction of farmlands by the ravaging flood and threat of a major epidemic. He said some of those displaced were still sleeping in canoes with mosquitoes all over them.

Commending the Federal Government for the funds released to cushion the pains of victims, Aginighan, who was also former Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the NDDC, appealed to those appointed into committees to manage distribution of relief materials not to see it as opportunity to enrich themselves.

Some of the communities he visited were Gbekebor, Ayakoromo, Okwagbe, Okrika, Ogbeingbene, Frukama, Ezebri, Ogodobri, Okoloba and Akugbene.

Other reporters -Samuel Oyandogha, Jimitota Onoyume and Festus Ahon.

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