The decision of Cameroonian authorities to open the Lagdo dam has left internally displaced persons in Benue State reeling.
The Director General of the State Emergency Management Agency in Benue State, Emmanuel Chior, told SaharaReporters many of the IDPs lost crops due to River Benue and Katsina Ala bursting their banks.
Incessant rainfall and added water from the dam which is upstream River Benue, forced water levels up to heights higher than 2012 records.
“Some of them- Benue State farmers, are IDP’s who recently got intervention from NEMA — Nigeria Emergency Management Agency to go and farm,” he said. “It is double tragedy for them and government, who has been encouraging them to find a means of livelihood.”
Worsening the actions of the Cameroonian government, however, are state government officials who have given out building permits to individuals to erect structures on natural flood plains.
Ukan Kurugh, told SaharaReporters many politicians in the food basket of the nation built houses on water channels.
“You know, the water channels within town, most people have built houses on them,” he said. “Successive governments have tried to demolish them but any government that wants to do it, will be forced to stop for political reasons.”
Kurugh said the flooding had not only affected coastal communities but had ravaged markets and other parts of the capital Makurdi.
“Houses in town have been hit, serious damages have been caused. “Last week there was heavy rain and it affected wadata market and businesses around the bridge. Houses around Benue State University and the Benue state University Teaching Hospital were heavily flooded,” he said.
Chior said, “NEMA just arrived today (Tuesday), we have started taking stock of the damage. They want to visit some of the local government areas. We are starting with Makurdi local government. It will be inaccurate to give you any figures now because we are still counting.”
He said the agency had already began multi-sectoral conversations with relevant ministries, departments and agencies in Benue State to get people to forfeit lands and buildings along flood plains.
“People are recalcitrant, some of them hold on to these places and claim they are their ancestral lands,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Urban Development Board has marked some houses for demolition. It is a challenge that needs lots of advocacy to resolve, he noted.
The impact of the water released into the Benue River by the Cameroonian government, will proceed on a path of destruction through Delta, Bayelsa, Edo Rivers and Anambra, before emptying into the Atlantic, the director general of the Nigerian Hydrological Service agency (NHYSA), Clement Onyeaso, stated this to journalists at the beginning of the week.
He urged government officials in the concerned states to evacuate residents of coastal communities.