By Fred Edoreh
My community, Umeh in Isoko South, Delta State, is yet to fully recover from the ravage of the 2022 flood.
Not only was the town completely submerged, the waves damaged the abutment and wings of the main bridge and dug deep gullies on various parts of the only road in and out of the community..
While our President General struggled to mobilise funds and have the youths strengthen the abutment with sand bags, we also had to contend with evacuating our people to IDP camps and providing food, medicine, beddings and various supplies for others who were trapped and had to take refuge at the primary school which had a fairly high foundation.
Our people not only lost their plantain plantations, they had to harvest their cassava plants premature.
This just might be a similar story of various communities in low sea plains across many states in Nigeria.
The after effect was that, in the following planting season, our people had no cassava stems to replant until the Delta State Government provided us five lorry loads of stems, thanks to the present Secretary to the State Government, Dr Kingsley Emu on whose shoulder we leaned, Chief Joe Arausi, the Isoko South PDP Campaign Coordinator who was like our guarantor, and Odio Askia Bashorun who gave us technical guide on procurement.
Umeh people are thankful that Governor Sheriff Oborevwori has ordered remedial works on Umeh road, now ongoing, but the August 21, 2023 alert by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs portends another season of same experience.
The announcement not only confirmed, but it is disheartening that apart from heavy rains occasioned by global warming, the great floods of 2012 and 2022 were really as a result of release of water from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon.
Wondering what it is about this Lagdo Dam, my research showed the following:
1. It is a dam built on an adjoining River in Cameroon with River Benue in Nigeria.
2. It was built by the Cameroon government to supply electricity and provide irrigation for 15,000 hectares of crop land in the northern part of their country.
3. Because of the connect of the rivers, there was an MOU between Nigeria and Cameroon that as the Cameroonians built their dam, Nigeria would also build its own on the Benue River to contain periodic release of water from Lagdo.
4. Accordingly, the Cameroonians built their Lagdo Dam in 1982.
5. Same 1982, over 40 years ago, Nigeria also started to build their own at Dasin Village in Fufore LGA of Adamawa State, but have not completed or have abandoned the project.
6. The design of the Nigeria arm of the dam was to be 1.4km long and 40 metres deep to be able to contain 16 cubic metres of water.
7. Besides holding the release of water from Lagdo Dam, the Nigerian dam would also have provided irrigation for about 150,000 farmlands, even more now, on the plains of River Benue, and about 20,000 metric tons of fish annually.
8. Because Nigeria failed to build their own dam as per the MOU, the Cameroonians have no option but to release water from their Lagdo Dam and only alert Nigeria to take measures to contain the flooding impact.
9. In 2022, the impact of the release from Lagdo, according to the then Nigerian Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, affected over 2,504,095 Nigerians across the country.
10. According to the Tribune, the breakdown of the tragedy showed that 1,302,589 people were displaced, 2,407 people injured, 603 were killed, 121,318 houses were partially damaged, 82,053 houses totally damaged, 108,392 farmlands partially damaged and 332,327 farmlands totally damaged.
Today, we are all on edge over the news of the impending release of water from Cameroon’s Lagdo Dam and awaiting the given, inherent, devastating effect on our people…
What shall we say to these things?
This country, my brother…