Gov. Dave Umahi has assured the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and residents of Ebonyi of the government’s preparedness to put proactive measures to mitigate the effect of flooding this year.
Umahi gave the assurance in Abakaliki when he received a national delegation of NEMA who paid a Flood Sensitisation and Advocacy Visit to Ebonyi State on Thursday.
The NEMA delegation also paid similar sensitisation and advocacy visit to the Nkwagu Military Cantonment, Abakaliki.
Umahi, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Kenneth Ugbala, said that the state would put proactive measures and tackle any possible flooding with the zeal it tackled COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor, however, thanked NEMA for the visit and numerous assistance of relief materials to communities and residents of the state especially victims of communal clashes and other natural disasters.
“We are highly encouraged by the visit meant to remind us of the need to protect our people and reduce or eliminate any possible loss from the predicted possible flooding this year.
“We learnt that communities within eight council areas in the state would be affected; and as a responsible and responsive government we are working hard and will partner with the Agency to see that the impact of flooding is checked.
“We are going to carry our massive flood campaign on an interpersonal level, group, village level using gongs, social media, radio and television in local languages to our 171 wards and 140 communities in the state.
“The state will clearly follow all the Agency proactive requirements religiously and see them as a rule-of-engagement and if there is any other thing the Agency wants us to do we will not fail to carry it out,’’ he assured.
Umahi noted that the government cannot appreciate the Federal Government enough in the “good and beautiful work’’ it had been doing through NEMA and bringing succour to millions of Nigerians and households
in the country.
Speaking, Lt.-Col. Igbinadolor Erhabor, Commander of Nkwagu Military Cantonment, assured NEMA that officers and soldiers of the cantonment are ready to attend to any emergency when called upon.
Erhabor noted that naturally military personnel by training had been prepared for emergency and its attendant risk, adding “the confidence NEMA reposed in the military especially the 24 Support Engineering Regiment is not misplaced’’.
“We are always ready and will respond at any day or hour we are called upon as part of the national Disaster Reaction Units.
“We thank the Agency for the singular honour of making us to be a DRU unit,’’ he said.
Earlier, the Director-General of NEMA, AVM Muhammadu Muhammed (rtd), said that apart from loss of lives; flooding threatens the food production capacity of the state as its residents are mostly farmers by occupation.
Muhammed, represented by NEMA’s Director of Research and Rescue, Mr Vincent Owan, said that the advocacy was to ensure that the negative effect of flooding would be reduced in the four flood high risk council areas and four flood low risk council areas in the state.
“We want the state to activate all contingency and emergency flood plans. Take proactive flood mitigating plans like opening of drains and waterways/canals and begin a massive flood sensitisation,’’ he said.
The NEMA boss also urged the government to identify high grounds and appeal to its residents in lowland and flood plains to relocate to such places and open effective communication between it and NEMA on development on ground among others.
It was gathered that in Ebonyi, flood high risk council areas included; Ezza South, Ezza North, Ikwo and Afikpo; while the probable flood low risk council areas are; Ishielu, Ohaozara, Ohaukwu and Abakaliki.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) and Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMeT), had predicted that there would be torrential rains in the country in September and October this year.
The agencies said that 28 states may experience flooding during the period.
Recently, NIHSA report a disturbing growing level of water in the River Niger and other inland rivers and water bodies as well.