Before We Are Consumed


Most Nigerians
might have heard the warnings by both the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) that some states would experience serious flooding because of heavy and continual rainfall. Obviously, the impending incident indicates grave danger and a cause for worry.
The admonition by NIMET’s Director-General, Dr. Anthony Anuforom, is made primarily to alert Nigerians on the need to take preventive measures to avert it. In other words, it is a piece of information that requires real action, not cosmetic approach.
Following the alert, NIHSA listed the states that would experience the flooding: Rivers, Niger, Delta, Anambra and Bayelsa. Kebbi, Adamawa, Kogi, Nasarawa, Benue and Sokoto States are also included, with a warning that Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa and Lagos in particular might face coastal flooding because of the rise in sea level.
Similarly, the Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Malam Mohammad Sani-Sidi, has also alerted communities and state governments along River Benue to the possibility of heavy flooding between August and November this year, following information that Cameroun would commence routine release of excess water from its Lagdo Dam.
These warnings point to one thing: the need for prompt intervention by state governments affected by the prediction. Lagos State government, as usual, has already taken a commendable step by alerting residents of the state residing at the coastal and low line areas of the imminent menace.
A popular English proverb says: “once bitten, twice shy”. Ask Nigerians who witnessed the 2012 flood incident: they would never like to tell their ugly story twice. Indeed NIMET and NIHSA have to be commended for giving an early warning. We have no excuses whatsoever as the opportunity to act quickly is here with us. But if we fail to perform till the prediction comes true, we shall have no one but ourselves to blame.
I say this considering the disastrous consequences of the 2012 flooding despite repeated admonitions by the same agencies. That flood affected over 2.3 million people, claimed about 363 lives and destroyed several houses, while the country reportedly lost N2.29 trillion. The deluge was largely caused by the unregulated release of water from Cameroun’s Lagdo Dam which Nigerians have again been warned against.
NEMA did not only predict that flood, it did proffer pragmatic solutions to ameliorate its effects on the landscape and people living in the envisaged course of the flood. The agency advised that drains should be cleared in major towns and cities, while fences and buildings erected following irregular rural/urban planning should be destroyed. But this timely warning was unheeded by the authorities.
Like the biblical Noah’s prediction and warnings against the flood in his own days, NEMA was derided or ridiculed by government and some Nigerians who referred to it as false alarmist which prediction should not be taken seriously. Then the flood came and disaster struck. I believe we are wiser now?
Both the federal government and the states must respond to the timely warning this time around by introducing flood control programmes. Clearing of drainages and canals to ensure free flow of water is a viable way to mitigate the looming doom. New drainages have to be constructed where necessary while buildings on waterways must be demolished. If need be, government must demonstrate political will by relocating those living along flood plains to safer areas.
Also, aggressive campaigns sensitising citizens on the danger of indiscriminate dumping of refuse in drainages and allied practices that animate flooding will be a workable option and has to commence immediately. In like manner, states and local governments which might be affected by the flood must begin de-flooding programmes.
Rivers State in particular, mentioned among the four states that are faced with the danger of coastal flooding, has to, as a matter of urgency, show commitment in ensuring that several flood mitigating measures are deployed to ensure minimal comfort for those who might be affected.
We must understand that our nation’s economic state cannot accommodate the devastating consequences of flooding and its attendant effect at this time. We have to realise that in the event of a flood, funds will be expended on reliefs and aids. Coastal jobs and businesses may stop and shut down temporarily while lots of agricultural crops could be destroyed or wasted, among others.
Therefore, all hands must be on deck to forestall a recurrence of this monster which caused unbearable hardship for many Nigerians because we neglected warnings by the appropriate agencies. We must be kept on our toes before we are consumed by the impending flood.
A word is enough for the wise.


Arnold Alalibo