The Federal Government has provided guidance to state governments in anticipation of potential floods due to an upsurge in the water flow along the River Benue.
During a press briefing held in Abuja on Saturday, Prof Joseph Utsev, the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, along with Bello Muhammad Goronyo, the Minister of State for Water Resources and Sanitation, disclosed the advisory.
At present, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency has observed an escalation in the water flow along the River Benue system, with a recorded flow level of 8.97 meters. This is in contrast to the flow level of 8.80 meters on the same date in the preceding year, 2022. Conversely, the water level of the River Niger system remains constant, with the River Niger’s level in Niamey, Niger Republic, sustaining a standard level of 4.30 meters.
Addressing the state of inland dams such as Kainji, Jebba, and Shiroro, Minister Utsev stated that a consistent flow pattern is evident.
In view of the ongoing heavy rainfall within the nation, Minister Utsev underscored the necessity for state governments to be prepared. He articulated, “Given the prevailing circumstances, it is essential for all tiers of government – federal, state, and local – to heighten their state of readiness and implement appropriate measures to mitigate the potential consequences of flooding during the peak of the rainy season.”
He further emphasized the need for states to educate the populace about the importance of individuals residing along river banks relocating to elevated areas during this high-rainfall period. The minister called on states and local governments to intensify their efforts in unclogging blocked drainage systems and constructing new ones as needed. He also advocated for the dismantling of unauthorized structures situated within floodplains. In addition, he urged the public, particularly motorists, to abstain from navigating through flooded areas.
The minister assured that presently, there is no immediate jeopardy to life and property, particularly in states contiguous to the Rivers Niger and Benue.
Regarding the scenario in Lokoja, the minister affirmed that despite the amplified flow along the River Benue system, the flow condition at the convergence point of the Niger and Benue rivers in Lokoja, Kogi State, remains within normal parameters. He shared, “The flow level at the monitoring station downstream of the confluence records 7.8 meters today, compared to 8.24 meters on the same date in 2022.”
Recognizing Nigeria’s downstream position relative to the nine-member countries within the Niger River Basin, Minister Utsev highlighted the significance of acknowledging the period characterized by heavy rainfall, flooding, and flood-related incidents that are typically observed in the months of July, August, September, and October.
Furthermore, he stressed the importance of controlled dam water releases in safeguarding dam stability and mitigating flooding in nearby communities. The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency maintains an effective information-sharing partnership with Cameroon’s National Hydrological Services concerning water releases.
Minister Utsev concluded by asserting that an immediate flooding threat is not imminent, urging all levels of government to institute preventive measures to avert flood emergencies.