President Buhari Authorises NEMA To Declare Flooding “National Disaster”
President Muhammadu Buhari has delegated authority to the Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mustapha Maihaja, to declare a “national disaster’’ if the anticipated flooding becomes a reality in parts of the country.
According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, President Buhari’s directive was contained in a letter entitled ‘Situation Report on the River Flood Along the Banks of Rivers Benue and Niger’.
The letter was signed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.
It gave “Delegation of authority to the Director-General of NEMA to activate the Disaster Response Units of the military for possible search and rescue missions”.
The President also gave the NEMA DG authorisation for “the procurement and proportionate stocking of relief materials and health-related items up to N3billion to provide for the needs of possible victims.’’
Also, President Buhari instructed the NEMA boss to provide him with regular updates.
The President’s directive follows a warning by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) that Rivers Benue and Niger had almost reached levels that resulted in flooding in 2012, which led to the loss of lives and destruction of property.
It also comes just two days after floods hit Niger State leaving 40 dead and over 100 communities submerged.
In a statement on September 6, NIHSA had warned that Nigeria risked witnessing a repeat of the catastrophic flooding of 2012 due to the steady rise in water levels and weather forecast for the coming weeks.
“There has been systematic daily rise in the water levels on both rivers. Records from our measuring stations in Lokoja (River Niger) & Makurdi (River Benue) clearly show this,” the agency said.
“This situation calls for watchfulness on the part of the riparian states as there is still likelihood of occurrence of river flooding. Shiroro Dam has already joined Kainji and Jebba Dams in spilling water. This has contributed to the steady rise in the water level.”
Days after, its fears started becoming a reality with news of flooding being reported in parts of the country.
Farmlands and houses were destroyed, leaving residents of the affected communities homeless.
The state Governor, Abubakar Bello, who visited the communities with other members of the state executive, appealed to the Federal Government to intervene as the situation was beyond the state.