By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJAâ€”A British geologist and renowned earth education expert, Mr. Chris King, has predicted that the country could be hit by major natural disasters including earthquakes and a tsunami.
King, who made the prediction in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja, at the background of a geological training session for students and teachers, urged government officials to intensify education of the populace on these natural disasters and ways of surviving them should they occur.
He said, â€œMajor earthquakes have happened in Nigeria in the geological past, and we have potential for major earthquakes in the future. That is a huge possibility. â€œThere is also a possibility that a tsunami could hit Nigeria; the type of tsunami that hit South East Asia. So, it is important for children and their teachers to know how to deal with these disasters when they occur, so they can make plans to save their lives.â€
He further disclosed that towns and villages along the coastal areas, especially in the Niger Delta region of the country, are exposed to greater hazards in the event of the Atlantic overflowing its shores.
According to King, â€œOne of the islands in the Atlantic Ocean could set off a volcano that could produce a tsunami that can sweep across the South Atlantic coastal areas of the Niger Delta, which could be really devastating if it happens; it is not very likely, but it could happen.
â€œIn the Camerouns, people have died from volcanic lakes in the past, and Cameroun is not very far from Nigeria. I donâ€™t think we are going to see volcanic eruptions in Nigeria, but certainly we are going to have earthquakes. Even in the middle of plagues, you can have major earthquakes which can be very devastating.â€
According to King, however, the possibility of natural disasters occurring may not pose as much challenge as the capacity and ability of the country to manage them when they occur.
â€œThe problem we have today is that if we knew a tsunami were to hit the country, no one will know what to do. You can have a tsunami warning system as they have in the Indian Ocean and in the Pacific Ocean.
â€œAlso, you need to train the population in the coastal areas what to do in case a tsunami is predicted. You need to train the population that if a tsunami were to hit that they need to move the highlands and move away from the coast: that will save their lives,â€ he noted.
King, who is a Director at the Earth Science Education Unit, Department of Education, Keele University in the United Kingdom, is in the country under the auspices of the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency, NGSA, to train teachers and students on
â€œWhat we are trying to do both in the UK and in Nigeria is to train science teachers to teach science more effectively, and in the UK we use a lot of models to make the teaching interactive, and here we are teaching the students pleptonics using a whole different range of models, which tell them about the different geological variation we have in Nigeria.â€
He added that there was a need to education policy administrators in the country to â€œchange the curriculum a bit and introduce some more science education to reflect modern day realities, especially with regards to the structure of the earth and earth science.â€
â€œWhen you talk to children about earthquakes and volcanoes, they get very excited. Part of what we are teaching about will help children know how the earth works what to do and how to save their lives. If the people know what to do, it will enhance their survival in the face of natural disasters,â€ he added.
Meanwhile, the Director-General of the NGSA, Prof. Malomo, has stated that the agency was making efforts to educate more Nigerians on the unique earth structures in the country, even as it works hard to enhance the economic potentials of Nigeriaâ€™s geology and earth resources as well as increase both local and foreign investment in the sector.
He said geology is a major academic discipline, and is commercially important for mineral and hydrocarbon extraction, as well as for predicting and understanding earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. It is also an important foundation for many other science and engineering disciplines, including evolutionary biology, paleoclimatology and geotechnical engineeringÂ Â .