Posted by News Express | 24 August 2022 | 294 times
Recently, the Director-General, National Environment Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Mustapha Ahmed, said that the agency had identified 233 local government areas in 32 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which were predicted to experience flooding this year. Ahmed made this disclosure at a national consultative workshop on 2022 flood preparedness, mitigation and response organised by the agency in Abuja. According to him, the workshop was one of the steps outlined by the agency to bring stakeholders together, and was aimed at collectively preparing and providing strategies to strengthen flood risk mitigation and effective response. According to him, this followed the 2022 seasonal climate prediction released by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the annual flood outlook released by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA).
He said: “Efforts must be made to mitigate and respond effectively to flooding. We have sent advisory letters and maps showing predicted flood risk areas in various states to the respective state governments.” While explaining that NEMA had produced risk maps for vulnerable local government areas as forecast by NIHSA’s annual flood outlook, the NEMA boss urged state emergency management agencies and local emergency management committees to be proactive. This, he said, would ensure effective and efficient flood preparedness, mitigation and response. On her part, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Farouq, called on relevant stakeholders to take proactive measures in addressing flood and its associated impacts.
There you have it: NEMA has warned again of the danger of flooding in about 32 states of the country as the rainy season continues. We say “again” because it has become a ritual for NEMA to routinely sound this flood warning every year, without that warning preventing the devastation occasioned by floods when they eventually arrive. Ordinarily, warnings are meant to induce proactive actions and measures to prevent looming danger, but in Nigeria, they are mere rituals done to fulfill all righteousness. Nothing positive results from such warnings. The states of the country have not been very proactive in their approach to flood management. It is an endless cycle of expenditure that does not bode well for the country’s public health and finances. For instance, when bridges over waterways are washed away by flood, the government is compelled to make the restoration of the bridge a top priority in the next budgetary allocation. This practice obviously makes governance a tedious and thankless job. Ideally, repeating the tasks that could have been done once and for all is not the purpose of governance. If the town planning departments of the government had taken their responsibilities seriously and addressed flooding effectively, the odious task of recycling funds to temporarily fix roads and bridges would not have continued.
The regular alerts by NEMA and other agencies are ideally expected to encourage them to set up preventive measures to stave off flooding, rather than engaging in an annual ritual of distributing palliatives to victims of flooding. Every year, flooding is experienced in almost all the states of the country with untold damage to infrastructure irrespective of the sensitisation and public education programmes that have been done. In the particular case of flood warnings, governments at all levels know that the main cause of the devastation that floods wreak is that people obstruct the free flow of water or put their residences and buildings too close to waterways and flood channels, yet these acts are not prevented or stopped.
The conclusion is inescapable that the federal, state and local governments are also more satisfied with the annual ritual of bemoaning and lamenting flood devastation than working to prevent it. This is an unfortunate commentary on the nature of government and governance in Nigeria and until there is a radical and positive change in this attitude and character, Nigerians would have to resign themselves to the reality of annual flooding devastation in spite, or perhaps because of, the annual flood warnings by NEMA.
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