Nigeria is currently in the rainy season, which normally last till late October. This season is usually characterized by extreme climatic events such as heavy torrential downpours, fierce windstorms, thunderstorms, disastrous floods, collapse buildings, among others.Recently, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NIMET, announced the 2015 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction, SRP, predicting high incidence of rainfall accompanied by floods in many parts of the country. The prediction, however, is a timely warning for all, particularly, against the backdrop of what happened in the year past.
This year’s forecast is particularly interesting as another agency of government,the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, NIHSA, in its 2015 Annual Flood Outlook, warned that 12 states might experience high flood this year. The states are Niger, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Anambra, Taraba, Nasarawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kogi and Benue. Also, worthy of note is that states like Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta and Lagos are expected to experience coastal flooding due to the rise in sea level and tidal surge.
Therefore, the flood alert is a welcome development, marking a departure from the past when no such warnings were issued and everyone was caught napping and unprepared. Early warning signal is critical in the management of natural disasters. We hope that the authorities would rise to the challenge, while the people should heed the warning and act accordingly. Only care and caution on the part of the citizenry and the authorities would help to alleviate the unforeseen ugly consequences.
And aspart of the effort to guard against incidences of flood in the country, the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, has called on Nigerians not to disregard this year’s basic disaster prevention and control measures.We urge all not to treat with levity the warning signals from both the NIMET and NISHA, but to be alive to our roles. Going by historical trend, there are areas that are susceptible to flooding, and if we are not environmentally friendly, we may be faced with worse disasters that would affect lives and property.A proactive response by the various state governmentsto advise its citizens on the dangers of indiscriminate blockage of drainages and other drainage channels remains a crucial determinant.
It will be recalled that the weather agency issued similar warnings in 2012, many states across the country seems to be unperturbed by the weather forecast and the seriousness of the warning signals. Yet, the rains and floods still caught both the authorities and the people napping, as many states were heavily flooded, lives were lost as well as property worth billions of Naira destroyed. In addition, thousands were displaced and whole villages submerged in many states as well as road transportation between the Southern and the Northern parts of the country cut-off and in some other areas partially disrupted. This sad scenario should not be allowed to repeat itself this year.
Though, the forecast looks gloomy, but the unexpected can be contained by concerted efforts of all relevant government agencies saddled with the responsibility of managing disasters and the citizenry themselves. Indeed, this warning signal must be seem as a wake-up call to all arms of government and the people living on flood planes in the country to begin putting in place contingency measures capable of reducing a repetition of the ugly incidents of the past, if not totally prevented.
However, we believe it is not just enough to hand out early warning to the people, but it is pertinent to kick-start early planning that would spell out containment measures for flood-prone areas of the country. Nigerians should be well educated on what to do to reduce loss of human lives and properties in the event of flood occasioned by torrential rain hitting their areas this year.But without adequate funding and training by government of all its agencies assigned with the task of disaster management to enhance their state of preparedness, nothing can be achieved.
Therefore, nothing should be left to chance now that early warning has been doled out to the public. All arms of government and relevant agencies should begin to design and implement anti-flood measures to avoid a repeat of the flood tragedies of years past.


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