As part of measures to prevent loss of lives and properties through the expected flood already predicted by metereologiosts this year, the Federal Government has commenced plans to build new dams across the Benue River, Minister of Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Ochekpe, has said.
The minister, who spoke with newsmen in Abuja, at the weekend, said the government had resolved to build new dams across River Benue, to save Nigerians from the debilitating effects of flood. She also revealed that the government had instructed engineers managing the existing dams in the country to start the process of gradual release of the water in the dams, so as to increase their capacity to absorb fresh water when the rains began.
The minister also said a team of experts from her ministry had met with government officials in Cameroon, adding that both countries had also discussed on the control of water from Tiga Dam in the Central African country. She explained that the government had deemed it fit to build new dams across River Benue because of the fact that 60 per cent of the water volume in Nigeria came from the river.
According to Ochekpe, River Niger already had enough dams that helped control flood, adding that the flood witnessed last year was not as a result of collapse of those dams as claimed in some quarters. “After the flooding last year, we went to Cameroon to discuss on when they will be opening their dams. They have already assured us that they will be informing us appropriately before they release the dams.
"We have already instructed our engineers to start releasing the water in the dams gradually in earnest. This is part of dams control mechanism,” she said. The minister also said the sum of $14.5 billion would be needed to confront the problems of the shrinking lake in the North Eastern part of the country.
According to her, Nigeria had already provided funds for the feasibility study on the planned transfer of water from Obangi River to Lake Chad, adding, however, that the entire countries in the region would need to contribute to the exercise. The minister also disclosed that the Federal Government was already tackling the problem of food shortage in the country, by injecting graduate farmers into agricultural system through the graduate farmers scheme.