By Mike Ebonugwo, Jude Njoku & Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos— The federal Government has allayed fears of a tsunami hitting the country, following reports that Malabo, the Equatorial Guinean capital, was hit by the phenomenon.
This came as Lagos State government assured residents of its preparedness to curtail the negative consequences of a tsunami should it occur.
However, an environmentalist, Engr. Chike Chikwendu, ruled out the possibility of Nigeria being struck by a tsunami, saying if it had hit Malabo, it would have struck the country’s coastline, including Lagos, within 10 minutes.
Head, Public Relations of Nigerian Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Yushau Shuaib, who responded to enquiries in respect of the claim that a 20-metre high tide was heading towards the coast of Lagos, Lome and Accra, following an offshore quake in Malabo, assured that there was currently no cause for alarm.
Shuaib, however, said while NEMA had not been able to authenticate the claim contained in the report, after intensified efforts to trace its source and veracity or otherwise, the agency was not taking chances.
He said the agency had reached out to its sister agencies in the country, including the Red Cross, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Federal Fire Service, Civil Defence Corps and other relevant agencies, to be on the alert in the event that the speculation turned out to be true.
Shuaibu said if that should be the case, NEMA would possibly be counting on the support of the United Nations in its disaster response and management.
This is against the backdrop of an assurance to that effect by the Under-Secretary General of the UN Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Baroness Valerie Amos, during her recent visit to Nigeria.
Lagos assures residents
Reacting on behalf of Lagos State government, General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency LASEMA, Dr. Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu, assured residents of the state that the government was prepared for any eventuality concerning the tsunami in Malabo.
He said: “We are aware of the Tsunami and I want to assure you that my agency and the state government are ready to respond quickly to any emergency to mitigate any negative effect thereof.”
He noted that Lagos had always been ready for any emergency situation to curtail its attendant effect.
However, effort to get the reaction of the state Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, was unsuccessful as his mobile phone number was unavailable at press time.
But an environmentalist, Chike Chikwendu, debunked the news that a tsunami was about to hit Lagos but described the information as very disturbing.
“It is a very disturbing news; that would mean the end of this country,” Chikwendu reacted yesterday.
But he was quick to point out that the story might not be true after-all, adding that the Tsunami would have struck Lagos by now, considering the speed with which it travels.
He said: “Malabo to Lagos is quite close and it won’t take up to 10 minutes for the tsunami to reach here. Although I am not a tsunami expert, but I know that it (tsunami) travels about 10 kilometres per second.
“If the news is true, it would have reached here by now,” Engr Chikwendu, who is the Secretary of Friends of the Environment, FOTE, said.
Efforts to reach the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research for their comments proved abortive.