The Senate has resolved to include the dredging of River Benue, River Niger, and other river projects in the 2024 Appropriation Bill to combat the recurring flooding and its consequences.
The Senate also requested the President to facilitate the construction of the Dasin Hausa Dam in Fufore Local Government area of Adamawa to prevent excessive flooding from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon.
Abbas Iya, Senator representing Adamawa Central, filed a motion during the Senate emergency plenary on Monday, which led to this resolution.
The River Benue is an international river that originates from Northern Cameroon and flows into Nigeria through Jimeta in Adamawa State, Ibi in Taraba State, and Makurdi in Benue State before meeting River Niger in Lokoja.
The volume of water flow of the River has been adversely affected by climate change and the construction of dams, resulting in its uncontrolled shrinking, which has had devastating effects on agricultural activities such as dry season farming, floods, and inland waterways transportation.
Leading the debate, Iya expressed his concern about the perennial flood by River Benue, which has led to the loss of lives, displacement of people, and destruction of farmlands, threatening food security. He believes that the situation will worsen if urgent action is not taken, and dredging the rivers is a necessary step to address the issue.
In 2022, he said over 2.41 million people were displaced, and over 600 fatalities were recorded, with expensive hectares of farmland across the affected states swept off.
Iya also mentioned the flood by the River Benue on November 1, 2023, where 32 people on board trying to cross the river at Garin Alaji near Chikit
He further expressed worry over the flood by the River Benue, on Wednesday 1 November, 2023, where 32 people on board trying to cross the river at Garin Alaji near Chikito village where the boat capsized but only 7 bodies were discovered and 5 rescued alive, and the remaining are unaccounted for up till date. This is in addition to the earlier reported case where 53 people lost their lives in the same river, he added.
The Senate consequently urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to provide relief materials to the victims and embark on enlightenment on the dangers of crossing rivers before or after rainfall and urged the National Inland Water Ways Authority to investigate the causes of an increased number of Boat Mishap in the State.
During the emergency session, the Senate approved the votes and proceedings from last Thursday’s sitting. The primary goal was to immediately transmit the list of confirmed Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) who were deemed controversial to President Tinubu for swearing-in.
The Senate took this step to prevent any court injunctions against their inauguration.
Last week Wednesday, the Senate confirmed the nominees for 7 REC, and on Thursday, they confirmed three more, despite petitions against two of them.
The confirmation of these RECs could still face legal challenges from some aggrieved individuals who may approach the court to stop their inauguration.