• Flood in 204 Niger communities, 17 displaced, panic in Benue, Anambra
As flooding hits some frontlines states following the opening of the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon by the authorities, about 3.04 million Nigerian farmers may struggle to repay over N700bn Anchor Borrowers’ Programme loan of the Central Bank of Nigeria, according to findings by The PUNCH.
The opening of the dam is expected to affect 13 frontline states, according to the National Emergency Management Agency.
Already, water levels have risen some states including Benue and Anambra, while Niger is already experiencing flooding.
Findings showed that farmers in the states are at risk of flooding based on the analysis done by The PUNCH.
Some of the farmers, who spoke with The PUNCH, said the development might make it difficult for them to repay their Anchor Borrowers’ loan.
Aside from the opening of the dam in Cameroon, NEMA had earlier said about 56 communities in 19 states across the country might experience heavy rainfall in August.
The NEMA Lagos Territorial Coordinator, Ibrahim Farinloye, made this known in a statement while giving an update about the downpour that is likely to cause flooding in August.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government, on Tuesday, said it kicked against the opening of the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon by the authorities of the neighbouring country without informing the Nigerian government.
The Director-General, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency – an agency of the Federal Government, Clement Nze, who disclosed this to journalists, explained that in Nigeria, the month of June every year
Asked whether the Federal Government registered its grievance over the opening of the Lagdo Dam by Cameroon without informing Nigeria, the NIHSA boss replied, “Of course yes, expectedly Nigeria wasn’t pleased with the fact that Cameroon opened their dam without notifying Nigeria.
“It happened in 2012, which though they informed Nigeria, but because of the pressure on the dam in that year, they had to open it before the scheduled date, in order to relief the dam from any breach.
“In 2019, they opened the dam on October 10 till October 31 without informing Nigeria and there was flood. So we now know that whenever there is flood of certain magnitude we begin to ask questions.
“The same thing happened in 2022, and again in 2023 after the information got to us that Cameroon had opened the dam. I got across to them, that was when they had to confirm to us in writing that they had opened it on August 14, 2023.”
On whether Nigeria expressed worry over this and if it also contributed to the decision by the Cameroonian authorities to close the dam, Nze said, “Yes, like I mentioned earlier, what we have in the two countries is a Memorandum of Understanding which doesn’t give you powers to do anything if the other party violates some terms.
“Although in the MoU, there is no section of it that says Cameroon must notify us before they release water. But based on professional collaboration between my agency and the relevant agencies in Cameroon, they are supposed to inform us.”
Data obtained from the CBN showed that at least 1.25 million farmers in the 19 states received a total of N289.19bn as of December 2022.
The data showed that out of the 19 states, Sokoto got the highest (N49.25bn to 179,914 farmers), then Jigawa (N48.14bn for 175,685 farmers) and Zamfara (N34.46bn for 115,894 farmers).
Others include Taraba (N31.1bn for 154,407 farmers) and Adamawa (N30.69bn for 317,513 farmers).
The lowest loan was received by Lagos (N483m for 2,460 farmers), Imo (N1.07bn for 4,415.81 farmers), Osun (N1.26bn for 4,621 farmers), Anambra (N1.43bn for 6,647 farmers) and Abia (N2.67bn for 8,152 farmers).
The PUNCH learnt that a total of N411.49bn loaned to 1.79 million farmers in the eight states may struggle to make repayments due to insecurity caused by bandits.
Out of the eight states, Kaduna got the highest loan (N139.94bn for 510,664 farmers), then Niger (N61.75bn for 287,044 farmers), and Kano (N58.18bn for 322,452 farmers).
The lowest loan was received by Plateau (N8.49bn for 34,103 farmers), Yobe (21.55bn for 94,372 farmers) and Borno (N36.48bn for 177,752 farmers).
The CBN earlier said it disbursed N12.65bn to farmers under its anchor borrowers’ programme in the first two months of 2023.
The suspended CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, at the end of the 290th meeting of the apex bank’s monetary policy committee, said that a total of N1.09tn had been disbursed through the ABP since its inception in 2015.
He said 4.6 million smallholder farmers cultivating or rearing 21 agricultural commodities have benefitted from the programme so far.
The ABP was launched by former President Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015, to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and smallholder farmers of the required key agricultural commodities.
The International Monetary Fund recently disclosed that only 24 per cent of loans disbursed under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of the CBN have been repaid.
However, the CBN disclosed that N503bn representing 52.39 per cent has been repaid by farmers under the Anchor borrowers programme as of February 2023.
This figure contradicts claims by the IMF that only 24 per cent of loans disbursed under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria have been repaid.
Checks by The PUNCH on data from the CBN showed that in the first half of 2022, the CBN released N35.52bn to 28,875 farmers.
This was a significant decrease from the N179.35bn released to 1.01m farmers in H1 2021.
Also, the CBN disclosed that N42.99bn was repaid in H1 2022, which was a slight decrease from the N47.49bn repaid in the same period in 2021.
With the flood threatening farming activities, a number of farmers may struggle to repay their loans.
The President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Kabiru Ibrahim, urged President Bola Tinubu to tackle flooding and erosion in order to ensure food security.
The AFAN president said this in a recent interview with The PUNCH, following the declaration of a state of emergency on food security by the President.
Ibrahim said, “The announcement of the President is such a very encouraging and very welcome development. The farmers and all Nigerians are hopeful that the attainment of food security is around the corner now.
“The government should intervene in flood and erosion control in farming areas in addition to the annual Nigerian Meteorological Agency predictions and Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency flood warnings.
“Increasing what we produce and eating what we produce is the only available pathway to the attainment of any form of National prosperity today.”
The former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Management, Sadiya Farouq, had said that in 2022, 676,945 farmlands were destroyed as a result of flooding.
In Anambra, people in local government areas such as Ogbaru, Ayamelum, Anambra East and West, Onitsha North and South, Awka North, Idemilli South, Ekwusigo and Ihiala, located along the River Niger coastline are always the worst hit during the annual flooding.
One of our correspondents who visited some of the communities on Tuesday, observed as residents were making preparations and arrangements ahead of the impending flood waters expected to come from the Cameroon Lagdo Dam, as announced by NEMA.
The water levels around these coastal communities have already started rising over a week ago, according to the information gathered from residents.
Apart from flood sacking the residents from their homes, it also destroys farmlands, homes and property as well as businesses.
Some of the residents who spoke, said there has been growing panic since the water levels have started rising in their areas, thereby forcing them to relocate their families and businesses.
The farmers and fishermen said they have started harvesting their produce prematurely for fear of losing everything to the flood as it happened in 2022.
A fish and pig farmer in Omor, Ayamelum Local Government Area, Johnson Okeke said, “The flood level has started rising in our communities since last week and places that were dry lands have been taken over by the flood.
“We are fishermen in this communities and we have over 500 large fish farms around the waterways and once the flood comes, it would sweep away everything and we will be left with nothing.
“That is the reason we have started harvesting too early to avoid colossal damage and to avoid a repeat of the 2022 disaster where many farm produce and fishes were destroyed.”
“It is sad that we are harvesting so early and we have no choice but in order to save the much we can, we are harvesting. If the flood comes those that will be affected much are fish farmers and those that planted yams and cassava.”
Another farmer in Inoma, Anambra West Local Government Area, Celestina Nwokediuko, said, “We have started harvesting our yams, cassava and vegetables as well as other produce we can lay our hands upon no matter how small so as to save the little we can afford instead of them to be completely destroyed as it happened last year.
“The 2022 flood came to us unaware, so we could not salvage anything and when we came back after the flood, nothing was left for us on our farms, now that we have been alerted of the impending flood from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon, we have to start harvesting what we can save instead of being left with nothing.
“Every year, the government will tell us that flood is coming, but it ends there and there is nothing to offer to save our farms. After the flood, the government will forget the flood victims and wait for another year.
“It is high time they started putting measures in place in form of palliative to assist the farmers who are always the worst hit.”
Another fish farmer from Umuzu community in Ogbaru local government area, Marcel Oke, lamented that Bank of Industries and Agricultural Bank was not helping matters.
Oke said, “What is the Bank of Industries and Agricultural bank doing to assist us over the flood? Nothing! Everything is just paper work and no action.
“I lost my floating fish farm net during the last flood and I found it in another state. I also lost over 2,000 fishes to the flood and I know how much in terms of money that I lost to the flood and both the state and federal governments did nothing to help us, now, we have started evacuation and it is costing us a lot.
“So, this time around, we have started early evacuation and harvesting of our produce to avoid a total loss.”
Meanwhile, fear has gripped residents of new garage and rice mill whose houses are at the bank of River Benue as level of water is rising steadily.
Our correspondent who visited rice mill, Wadata and John Holt on Monday reports that the water level is increasing.
Some of those who spoke to our correspondent expressed fear but said that they were yet to be assigned safer place they could relocate it.
“The moment we see the water level rising, we know that danger is looming but the problem is that we don’t know where the state government is preparing as an alternative to accommodate us.
“But some of us who have relatives within the town have made contact with them”, madam Nenger said.
But Ngbede Abraham who deals with sand business around defunct John Holt office said that the water level started rising since Sunday.
He said, “I was here yesterday (Sunday) and noticed rise in water level but it is not strange to us doing business here until the water start to cover the bank.
At Wadata market, many traders claimed they were keeping eyes on the water level and would not want to be caught unaware.
Agbo said, “The experience of last year is still fresh in our memory, that fateful day, we were in the market when suddenly this market became flooded. Many traders lost their goods to the wave of the water.
She added that already some of the traders have started moving their goods home.
Recall that the state government through the acting Executive Secretary of State Emergrncy and Management Agency, James Iorpuu has said that a committee had been set up to map out resettlement areas for those that may likely be displaced as a result of the flood.
He said, “Already, we have created designated locations where we will relocate those living around the Bank of River Benue and people occupying flood prone areas across the 22 local government areas that will be affected by flooding.
In Zamfara, Abubakar Dauda from Dansadau town in the Maru Local Government area narrated that the lingering banditry activity in the area was worrisome and dangerous, which really puts fear in the hearts of farmers who have lost hope in this year’s farming season.
He said, “Last year, we only cultivated our nearby small farms as we could not go far for the fear of the miscreants”.
“There were instances when the bandits told us that farming could only be done with their approval.”
He explained that the rainy season has already started, but people could not sacrifice their lives to go for the usual farming activities because the bandits would instantly kill any farmer they saw in the farmlands.
A resident of the Sokoto state who is a sales representative with one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the state, Suleiman Nazir, said with the current situation of things in the country, the farming business has become the way out.
Nazir, who acquired about four hectares of land in the state for farming activities, said he is determined to do farming in addition to his job.
He described the current situation in the country as worrisome, saying surviving in the country is gradually becoming a battle of the fittest.
“I have to diversify in order to meet up with my responsibilities at home, and what have you, if not, how can I survive based on my salary.
“My only prayer is unto God not to allow flood sweep away my farms produce. I have invested all my savings on this and hope it will yield positively “ he added.
Meanwhile, the state Emergency Management Authority, says the state government in collaboration with international partners, has made contingency preparation plans in view of the flood alert, urging the people to follow the directive from the relevant agencies.
The Niger State Emergency Management Agency, has said 204 communities are affected by the flooding in the state while 17 of them are now displaced.
The spokesman of the Niger SEMA, Ibrahim Hussain who spoke with the PUNCH on telephone on Tuesday confirmed that residents in the affected communities had started moving to Kogi, Kwara, public centres and other unaffected local governments.
He noted that Niger State was aware of the rising water level in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.
He said, “For now, we have 15 local governments that are under water threat as we speak and we have 17 communities that have been displaced already. As we talk, some of them moved to Kogi Kwara and some of them moved to public buildings and some of them to other local governments. So, we have 204 communities affected while those displaced are 17 communities”.
Hussaine noted that there was serious cause for concern in the state because the flood would eventually come but the response speed may not be as fast.
“Why will we not be afraid when we are in the same zone. The geographical location of Niger and Kogi is the same thing. And the water that is coming, is no longer the rain coming from Nigeria, it is rain coming from outside the shores of Nigeria and the type of rain that happens in Camerron up to Guinea, is the same thing because it is the same weather.
“People are aware very much because there’s sensitisation. We have links people, we have volunteers and this handset has made things much simple. As things are happening now the people are reading it, even before we talk to them, those within that environment are already aware of the situation and we just guide them to do the needful”.
Hussain also reacted to the response of both the federal government and the international community. According to him, the response level is slow, and the Federal government may have to declare a State of Emergency for the international Community to come forth with assistance.
“You know, if things happen like this, everybody will come and do assessment and then go back to prepare for intervention. The State is on it, NEMA is on it, UNICEF too is on it. Then, we have other people that are also coming. You know, in Nigeria here, they plan for emergency without cash backing. It is only when it happens that they begin to look for money here and there to intervene. But in a place where you have cash backing, you take money directly and you go and intervene.
“In Nigeria we still have a problem of being fast in responding. But response is on the way. The State has started its own, NEMA is also on it now. Though, Nigeria has not declared emergency, so these international donor agencies can come in,, those of them that are not used to this kind of thing, will not come except when we declare incapacitating at the national level, through the federal government then you now start seeing NGO from abroad and you start seeing other countries donating to assist Nigeria,” he said.
The mood of the residents at some of the affected areas indicated uncertainty. In Lapai local government area, one of the flood prone areas, people could be seen moving their belongings upland. Suleiman, an indigene of the State said it is the faith they suffer every year. They have to be forced by the government and the floods to evacuate their homes and watch from afar as the flood take over everything.
“This is what we go through every year. We don’t know when this will end. It does not appear that anything can be done to stop it. Our people have been told to move to a resettlement area to avoid being taken away by the flood. We are tired of this thing. The federal government should come to our aid, we are suffering. They said they will share palliative. We have not seen anything and we don’t have money to take care of ourselves while we wait for the flood to end,” he lamented.
The Federal Government also reviewed the design and drawings for the construction of the Dasin Hausa Dam in Fufore Local Government Area of Adamawa State, in a bid to tackle the floods that hit Nigeria annually from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon.
On Monday, The PUNCH reported that the release of huge volumes of water from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon had made states along the path of River Benue in Nigeria brace up for possible flood disasters in their various domains.
The report pointed out that no fewer than 11 states including Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Cross River were likely to feel the negative impacts of the opening of the dam.
The states were identified by the National Emergency Management Agency and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency.
It was, however, gathered on Monday in Abuja that the consultant engaged by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation to study and design the Dasin Hausa Dam in Adamawa – the first state being hit by the flood from Cameroon, had submitted its report.
The Director-General, NIHSA, Clement Nze, told our correspondent that the water ministry had reviewed the drawings and sent it to the consultant, adding that the government was currently awaiting the response of the contractor.
Responding to enquiries on efforts being made to stop the yearly flooding in Nigeria caused by the Lagdo Dam and what should be done, Nze replied, “Construction of Dasin Hausa Dam in Fufore LGA of Adamawa State.
“The Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation has commissioned a consultant for the study and design of the dam. The ministry has reviewed the drawings, and sent its comments and observations to the consultant. Awaiting the consultant’s response.”
He also stated that the “channelisation of Benue River and some of its tributaries within Adamawa and Taraba states,” was vital. The NIHSA boss, who interfaces with authorities of Lagdo Dam on behalf of Nigeria, further called for an effective flood early warning system.
He explained that in the upstream, there should be “early information on water releases by the authorities of Lagdo Dam, and in the downstream, adequate network of hydrological stations/monitoring systems.”
Nze said massive flood sensitisation, awareness and advocacy campaigns by the states and stakeholders should be implemented.
Asked to state what it would cost the country to develop the Dasin Hausa Dam, which will go a long way in damming the flood from Cameroon, Nze said, “It is dependent on the evaluation of tasks to be carried out.”
Cameroon halts dam water release
The release of massive volumes of water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon since August 14, 2023, which triggered fear of widespread flooding in 11 states in Nigeria, has been stopped by managers of the dam, the Federal Government announced on Tuesday.
It announced this at a press briefing in Abuja that focused on the August 2023 water releases from Lagdo Dam, as the government revealed that the spilling of water from the facility was stopped by 11am on Monday, August 28, 2023.
The Director-General, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency – an agency of the Federal Government, Clement Nze, who disclosed this to journalists, explained that in Nigeria, the month of June every year served as the beginning of a new hydrological year in the River Niger Basin.
He said the River Niger Basin covered nine countries in West and Central Africa including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.
Under the umbrella body of Niger Basin Authority based in Niamey, Niger Republic, Nigeria is downstream of all the countries in this basin, according to Nze.
He said, “The months of July, August September and October of every year signify period of heavy rainfall, flooding and flood disasters in most parts of the country. The Lagdo Dam is located on the Benue River In the Niger Basin.
“The Cameroonian authorities commenced the release of water from Lagdo Dam by 10.10am on August 14, 2023. This was communicated to the DG of NIHSA on August 23, 2023 by the Cameroonian hydrologist in-charge of the dam.”
Nze said the release of water from the dam commenced at the rate of 200 cubic metres per second, which was about 18 million cubic metres of water per day.
“According to the (Cameroonian) official, this exercise wil continue for the next seven days seeing that the reservoir level currently stands a 213.46m and the maximum permissible level of the reservoir is 214.02m.
“The said official also added, ‘We will continue to observe the situation. if there is no major inflow, we will close the spillway in the coming days. The situation is under control.”
The NIHSA boss stated that by August 25, 2023, the water releases from the reservoir had reduced to 50 cubic metres per second, which was a normal reservoir operations and far negligible to cause any flooding downstream.
“However, by 5.46pm yesterday, August 28, 2023, the hydrologist in-charge of the dam notified the Director-General of NIHSA that they stopped spilling water by 11.00am that same yesterday,” Nze stated.
He also stated that there had been steadiness in the flow of the River Benue system, as “the water level at our monitoring station in Makurdi, Benue State is 9.01m as against 9.68m that was recorded on same date in 2022.
Source : Punch