The country may soon experience a fresh bout of flooding, with its attendant gale of mass devastation spread across flooded planes.
With more rains forecast by emergency agencies, it is not unlikely that many states and cities will get inundated in the coming weeks, emergency agencies have warned.
The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), in its lasts alert, warned Nigerians of imminent increased flooding in September. The agency’s director-general, Clement Nze, while speaking on the issue in Abuja, accused state governments of failing to heed warnings on flood earlier released in the year.
At the onset of the rainy season, NIHSA had, while alerting Nigerians to the likely destructive deluge, called for preventive measures to be embraced to avert disaster.
Among other things, the agency also stated that 74 local government areas, in 30 states, will be severely flooded between July and September, while 279 local government areas, would experience minimum flooding within the period.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) also warned that Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and other neighbouring states would experience flooding, following expected high volume of rainfall.
The spokesman for NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye said letters calling their attention to the inherent danger had been sent to governors of states likely to be affected.
“Go to Lagos and other neighbouring states, and you will see that the drainage has been filled with refuse and other wastes. Therefore, if the rain begins, there is no how we won’t record a flood disaster.
“The state and local governments are responsible for the expansion of the drainage, which is why the director-general of NEMA had sent letters to all of the governors, calling their attention to it, and they had all shown interest.
«As we expect more rain this year, parents should be very careful with their children. When you see that the rain is about to fall, it is better you don’t allow your children to go anywhere for that period. Motorists should also drive carefully while plying the roads.”
In July, NEMA advised people living along the banks of River Niger and River Benue in Adamawa and Taraba to relocate to avert flooding.
NEMA’s Head of Operations in the two states, Mr. Abbani Garki, said the agency had received the 2019 rainfall data analysis from the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), which indicated that 30 states of the federation would experience flooding.
He said, NEMA, alongside its sister agencies in the states, are monitoring and working closely in any case of emergency.
“We are advising communities, especially those along the two major rivers in Benue and Niger, to be on alert because there is possibility of flooding this year as predicted by NiMET. State governments should also advise their communities to make sure that all drainage channels are regularly cleared and refuse dumps evacuated,” he said.
Already, several areas in the country, especially in Lagos, have been visited by, while across the country, it has been tales of gloom.
Already among the casualties are four students of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), who were swept away by flood. Consequently, students were immediately ordered to vacate the campus by the school management.
Also losing his life tragically in Abuja, was the director of Finance of the Federal Capital Territory, High Court, Mr. Tony Okwecheme. He was swept away by flood, while his driver was rescued and hospitalized. The incident reportedly occurred at a bridge along Galadinawa Roundabout.
Still in the same axis, several roads and buildings have been damaged, while nine persons were swept away by flood.
In Jigawa State, over 50 houses have reportedly been destroyed by flood and over 200 persons displaced in Yalleman and Dakayyawa towns in Kaugama Local Government Area.
According to the Information Officer for the council, Alhaji Fahad Muhammad, the flood was caused by heavy rain that lasted for about seven hours. The same towns were also affected by the 2018 flood that killed 21 persons and ravaged over 200 communities in the state.
Parts of Adamawa State have also been ravaged by rainstorms and flooding. Reports indicated that seven persons were killed and dozens of homes swept away. In Jambutu, Wurajabe and Jimeta areas of Yola North Local Government Areas, flood was said to have killed five children.
The Yola North Transition Committee Chairman, Adamu Wakili, after an assessment visit to the affected communities, described the incident as unprecedented.
He said: “We have never experienced this one to two hours of intensive rain and heavy flooding before. Many were rendered homeless. We have just seen a tailor shop where three sewing machines were swept away.”
Oguta in Imo State is still smarting from the heavy rains that displaced over 6000 people and damaged several homes. Confirming the tragedy, Kingsley Uju, the lawmaker representing Oguta, Oru West and Ohaji/Egbema federal constituency, said two hundred houses from 15 communities were submerged. He said some of the victims were trapped in their farms by swelling water.
He expressed fears that 80 per cent of indigenes in various communities may lose their homes as the rain intensifies, except urgent help comes their way.
With widespread losses already recorded, fears have been further heightened, as many are apprehensive of what awaits them in the coming months.
Following the deaths already recorded, President Muhammadu Buhari called on Nigerians to be alert and pay attention to their environment, and heed flood alerts made by government agencies.
In a post through his Twitter handle @MBuhari, the President said: “I want to appeal to Nigerians to please heed early warning flooding alerts by relevant government agencies intended to safeguard lives and property. These alerts are well-meaning and for the good of everybody. My heartfelt sympathy goes to the families of all who lost their lives in recent flooding incidents, as well as those who lost property.”
Before now, environmentalists warned that heartrending scenarios might be replayed if early warning signals are not heeded by the authorities. They also hoped that relevant government agencies and policy makers will be adequately prepared to respond to flooding incidents in their domain.
In 2016, the then Director General of NIMET, Dr Moses Beckley, while unveiling that year’s annual flood outlook, highlighted the need for state governments to put in place artificial reservoirs to check flood flow, to avoid a replay of previous flooding disasters.
Concerned individuals, have averred, however, that it was becoming obvious that early flood alerts, meant to serve as warnings to mitigate the risks of flooding, were not adhered to.
They also flayed what they said was the non-committal stance or lack of political will by the authorities to put in place solid structures to help checkmate flooding incidents in vulnerable states.
An environmentalist, Osigwe Ambrose, urged Nigerians against disregarding the warnings, stressing that those who did so in the past have are still regretting their actions.
“The climate is no longer friendly. More extreme weather events are expected in future due to projected impacts of climate change. There are serious indications to show that rainstorms are getting more intense. Data has shown serious shift in climatic conditions. It is sad to note that the country appeared not to have learnt lessons from past flood incidents.
“One would have expected that they would have served as litmus tests for the nation’s emergency agencies and that they would strengthen disaster plans and preparedness. We must be prepared and alert because no one can tell the dimension it might take this time. As a matter of urgency, all hands must be on deck,” he said.
To those saddened by the recurrent damages wrecked by flood over the years, Nigeria being a danger-prone domain has incurred economic damages worth billions of dollars, and they are optimistic the losses could be averted.
They insist that there is no effective national early warning system in place for floods, either at the federal, state or local government level.
They fear that Nigerians and Nigeria will continue to be inundated as long as there are resource constraints, limited awareness and absence of goodwill on the part of the authorities.