The recent warning issued by anti-flooding agencies on the imminence of flooding across the country and their call for mitigation ahead of the impending disaster sounds embarrassing, considering that there was a similar occurrence last year.
Against the backdrop of last year’s devastating flooding that claimed over 600 lives, damaged farmlands, submerged communities, displaced hundreds of citizens and caused a general disruption of social and economic activities, the Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency, NIHSA, the National Emergency Agency, NEMA, and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMET, jointly warned that disaster awaits 178 local governments in 32 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, if early preparations were ignored.
Expectedly, the same places that witnessed the devastating impact of the 2022 floods are also on the 2023 predictions’ watch list with a few, worrying additions.
They are Lagos, Kaduna, Suleija, Gombe, Yola, Makurdi, Lafia, Asaba, Port Harcourt, Yenagoa, Ibadan, Benin City, Bernin- Kebbi, Sokoto, Lokoja, Maiduguri, Kano, Osogbo, Ado-Ekiti, Abakaliki, Awka, Nsukka, Calabar and Owerri.
As usual, the report predicted coastal flooding in Cross River, Delta, Edo, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Rivers, and Bayelsa States due to rise in the sea level and tidal surge, which would impact fishing, wildlife habitation and river navigation.
Expatiating further, the Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adama, said the forecasts for 2023 showed that 178 LGAs in 32 States of the federation and the FCT fell within the Highly Probable Flood Risk Areas and 224 LGAs in 35 States of the Federation, including the FCT, fell within the Moderately Probable Flood Risk Areas.
Even so, there is no evidence to show that the warning is being taken seriously and last year’s flooding disaster may repeat itself all over again.
In Ogun State, for instance, a heavy rainfall on April 13, 2023 resulted in flash floods in Sagamu and one person reportedly died, while two others were injured. The reports indicated that an unknown number of people were swept away by floodwater, leading to the destruction of an unknown number of structures in Makun Village.
In Lagos, where the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr Tunji Bello, disclosed recently that the 1936.2mm amount of rainfall predicted for 2023 was greater than the long-term average of 1721.48mm experienced in the state in the last 10 years and the insanitary habits of the citizens often frustrate efforts by government to sanitise the environment as drainages and lagoons are often treated as refuse dumps, thereby causing blockages to drainage.
Rainfall is often dreaded by the citizens of the aquatic state because the accompanying flood can make roads impassable and disrupt traffic for hours on end, causing loss in man hours.
To avoid a repeat of the last year’s flood disaster, we urge the states and the Federal Government to heed the view of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water Resources when she addressed the negative impact of flood and other disaster before an audience. “Flooding would be drastically reduced if better understanding of flood risks are promoted and ensuring adequate and appropriate mitigating measures are deployed, “ she had said.
To accomplish the preceding noble idea, the government must embark on a massive enlightenment campaign and ensure that the Ecological Fund set aside for such purposes is duly and aggressively implemented.
More so, last year’s flood disaster should serve as a template to avoid a recurrence through prompt action.
First responders like the NEMA should be properly equipped and funded to do their work without let or hindrance; NEMA can assist in evacuating those in danger to safe locations until the water recedes to a certain level to support human habitation.
These remedial actions are within the capability of every government and they should feel at liberty to improvise on them as occasion warrants.