THE Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMet, has been very proactive, from the beginning of this year, putting Nigerians on the alert about the heavy flooding we can expect throughout the rainy season which we are already experiencing.
The most recent was the alert it issued for August 24 to 26, 2021 concerning flooding that was expected to affect 34 states. Everyone should get ready to experience moderate to severe flooding for the remainder of the wet season which ends around mid-October in most part of Nigeria.
Those living in states that adjoin the major rivers and water bodies, such as the Niger and Benue Rivers, must be particularly alert.
In June this year, the Nigerian Hydrological Service Agency, NIHSA, had also predicted heavy flooding in Lagos and adjoining states, while the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority warned that floodwater from the Oyan Dam would be released sometime in September or October to prevent humanitarian disasters in case of a dam burst.
Flooding is a worldwide phenomenon. The level of destruction of lives and property in the most advanced countries of Europe, particularly Germany, Belgium and France, as well as many parts of Asia, shows that in some cases, there is little that can be done when flooding is extreme. However, steps can be taken by human beings to minimise its effects and save lives. This is the main objective of these warnings by the relevant authorities.
It is unfortunate that both at individual and governmental levels, our perennial lack of preparedness leaves our people at the mercy of even routine floods which develop from a few minutes of heavy rain.
Urban planning is a complete failure in most parts of Nigeria, as people build indiscriminately, often blocking running water’s pathway.
People dump trash in the gutters, thus blocking them and giving way to unnecessary flooding. The regulatory authorities are unable to implement the laws. The only way to reduce urban flooding is to implement the laws.
Citizens should not wait to be pushed around before they do the needful. The local governments, working under the coordination of the states, can make a big difference. But the people must cooperate.
In the case of those living along the banks of our mighty rivers and the Niger Delta, there is no choice but to relocate to higher grounds every year until proper dredging, channelisation and maintenance of our major waterways is done.
Since flooding is to be expected in such places, we call on the federal and state governments to join efforts to set up shelters where people can relocate to when the floods come.
The people being asked to “relocate to higher grounds” must be helped. That is the work of compassionate governance.
Government exists for the people’s welfare.