Nigeria’s Minister for Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Ochekpe, has said that the current flooding in the country was not caused by any of the Federal Government-owned dams.
Ochekpe, who made this clarification while briefing newsmen in Abuja, said that none of the dams in the country had been breached.
She added that the dams were constructed for the purpose of regulating, monitoring and diverting floods, adding that the flooding was due to the high intensity rain within a short period.
“Since the flooding started, there is no Federal Government dam that has been breached; not even any component of any dam has given away.
“Dams do not cause flooding, rather they regulate and control and sometimes divert flood. For Nigeria, the flooding is arising from the excessive rainfall we have had from the month of July through August and it is a fallout from climate change.”
The minister also said that the discharge of water from the Benue and Niger rivers, the two main rivers in the country, had been the highest within the last 40 to 60 years.
According to her, Niger River experiences two kinds of flooding which are the Black floods and the White floods, adding that the the white flood occurs in July.
On the black flood, she said: “The water comes from upstream with high velocity right from the main source of the river, which is Guinea and Mali and it happens between December and January.'”
Commenting on the release of water from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon, Ochekpe said plans were under way to construct the Dasin-Hausa Dam which would be a buffer dam with the capacity to contain all the water released from the Cameroon dam.
“Plans to construct the Dasin-Hausa Dam are in the works as feasibility studies are already being carried out.
``And when we build the dam, we will be able to contain 16 billion cubic litres of water out of the 77 billion cubic litres of water which is the total water resources potential of the dam, so that the extent of the flood will not be devastating.”
Ochekpe added that the ministry was striving to ensure that the early warning system was fully activated, although the National Emergency Management Agency had been sending out signals early.
She explained that because flood of such magnitude had not occurred in the country for a long time, many Nigerians viewed the disaster as alien and therefore, they built houses and carried out economic activities in flood-prone areas.
The minister appealed to those affected not to move back to those flood plains as the waters recede because the black flood was still expected.
“Excessive flooding that happened in the past, happened some 60 years back, therefore many of us see flooding as alien and people move to flood plains and begin to construct business premises.
“Those affected by the flood should not hurry to go back as we are still expecting the black flood.”
She also urged the state governments to embark on plans to relocate and evacuate people residing in flood prone areas in their states.
She added that human activities such as indiscriminate refuse disposal and the lack of drainage maintenance contributed to flooding in the country.
Ochekpe called for total partnership with the media to help to create awareness about disaster management.