The Managing Director, Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC), Alhaji Abubakar Yelwa, says the dredging of Rivers Benue, Niger and Kaduna will cost more than $20 billion.
According to him, this has made the clamour for the dredging of the three rivers to check perennial flooding in affected areas difficult.
Yelwa disclosed this at the 2023 stakeholders meeting on flood mitigation and other related issues in Ilorin, Kwara State, on Thursday, May 18, 2023.
He said it would be difficult for the Federal Government to handle without intervention from international donor agencies.
He said this is because the estimated cost for dredging of the rivers as at 1983 when the Federal Government asked for the cost was $2 billion, adding that the cost had astronomically gone up over 10 times.
He said that the funding of the project was beyond the commission and the Federal Government.
“The dredging of River Niger or Benue, as the case may be, has always been repeatedly suggested in all the places we have visited.
”We have visited about five states including Kwara, almost all the states were asking for dredging.
“In 1983, when the former President, Shehu Shagari’s government asked for the cost of dredging of Rivers Niger and Benue, a bill of $2 billion was given.
”You can imagine the scope now, even if the dollar had remained the same, the scope would have gone up 10 times. That is why it is difficult.
“It is not what HYPPADEC nor the Federal Government can do without making recourse to international organisations for intervention and that is what we are working towards to mobilise international donor agencies for intervention,” he said.
To mitigate 2023 flood prediction by the Nigerian Metereological Agency (NiMet), Yelwa said the commission would embark on aforestration programme, where trees would be planted in five hectares of land in each of the five local government areas in Kwara North senatorial district, being flood-proned area of the state.
Also speaking, one of the civil society organisations at the event, Global Hope for Women and Children Foundation (GLOHWOC), called for multi-sectoral approach towards mitigating flood in Kwara.
The foundation’s CEO, Mrs Christy Abayomi-Oluwole, said that Rapid Response team on flooding should be reviewed towards addressing challenges associated with flooding and their effects on dwellers of riverine areas.
The Kwara Commissioner for Environment, Mrs Remilekun Banigbe, who was represented by the Director of Ecological Services, Malam Ilyasu Yahaya, said the high risk of the imminent flooding predicted by NiMet could cause high rate of disease and displacement of people, if not addressed early enough.
The state Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr Segun Adeyemi, said the way we manage our environment pre-diposes us to flood.
He said the NOA would work in all local government areas to sensitise people on what is ahead of them.
The Kwara Coordinator, World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Salihu Abdullahi, said the rapid response team should be reviewed to involve necessary stakeholders that would look into different aspects of the flooding.
On his part, the Emir of Shonga, Dr Halliru Yahaya, who spoke on behalf of traditional rulers at the meeting, called for the mapping of the flood prone areas to reduce the impact.
Yahaya also advised government agencies to enforce all environmental laws to ensure sanity in the communities.
By Bushrah Yusuf-Badmus