In no distant time, the twin challenges of flood havoc and power supply in the Niger will be over, says the managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Dr Samuel Ogbuku.
He says the commission is working towards the construction of a dam that will tackle the perennial flood in parts of the region. The dam will also generate electricity for the people, especially now that electricity generation and transmission is no longer in the exclusive list.
But as a short terms measure to tackle the impending flood, Ogbuku told journalists in Port Harcourt that transit camps would be constructed by the commission for the benefit of those in the worst impacted states.
He said: “We are very, very concerned about the welfare of the people. So, we are trying to take step to ensure that we have our immediate response and we are also looking at the future; and looking into the future, we have engaged consultants because from the studies we’ve gotten, for the Niger Delta to be safe, we need to have a dam, a dam that will control the inflow of water.
“We have already commissioned consultants to design a dam that with that design we can approach the federal government, state governments and possibly other international bodies for partnership to build a dam. We believe that we cannot be going out to discuss with somebody without showing our level of seriousness.
“Let us take up that cost of the design first, because we are looking into the future. We are calling that project converting your liability to asset. The liability is the flood, but in building a dam, the dam will also be used for power generation, irrigation and other things.
“It becomes an asset and especially now that the federal government has liberalised power generation; meaning we can also make money out of it. It’s just like constructing a road and putting a toll; that is what we are looking at.”
On the plans to construct refugee camps for those who may be displaced by this year’s flood, Ogbuku said “we have also made our plans to ensure that we construct transit homes. Those transit homes are homes that will shelter our disaster victims because over the years, if you look at the Niger Delta, once disasters are coming, there is possibly no preparation for where to relocate people to.
“So we want to build those transit camps so we can have a place where our people can be properly accommodated, those camps are going to have schools, a sick bay, so that within that period children that are there can also be learning, so that in times of maybe epidemic, they can also have access to medical care.”
He said between now and November when flood could be at its peak, the camps would have been ready in three states. “We are looking at Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers which is actually the mostly affected states in the region, to start with as a pilot scheme.
He said all the relief items from the commission would also be distributed at the camps. He gave the assurance that the handling of the camps and distribution of the items to flood victims would be devoid of political considerations as it used to be in the past.