NIGERIA, LOSING THE FLOOD WAR

FILE PHOTO: Homes submerged in flood after days of rain in Nigeria

FILE PHOTO: Homes submerged in flood after days of rain in Nigeria

A cursory drive along major roads across the country would avail one with the opportunity to spot one of the numerous police vehicles labelled RRS, an acronym for Rapid Response Squad which brings me to my major grouse I have with the Nigerian Society: “reaction supersedes prevention”.

We are a responsive people. Quick to act when an event such as an accident or a disaster has already occurred, by which time we would have lost the element of prevention and at most would have to resort to mitigation as best as we can and bearing in mind that we still are a developing country this usually results in loss of lives and properties running into billions of Naira almost on a yearly basis.

Case in point: on the 9th of August 2016, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) commendably predicted that about 11-14 states across the federation were susceptible to flooding between the months of August and October from increased precipitation.

One would have expected that other agencies such as NEMA, the River Basin authorities in the various regions as well as the ministry of environment both at the federal and state levels would have carried out exploitative checks and tests along areas prone to flooding or places where flooding has occurred in recent history in order to ascertain all available options to prevent the forecasted flooding.

It is pertinent to note that while flooding could be a natural disaster, most times it can actually be prevented if major flow channels are provided while ensuring regularly that they aren’t clogged with refuse and litter.

It has been said that the best time to undergo infrastructural development is now.

Hence, instead of just counting our losses in such places as Kaduna (10,000 persons displaced), Osun (where a 60-year old man lost his life) and Nasarawa (where many others have died) and where OLAM, an international agricultural investor lost an estimated $80 million rice farm and other places that have been ravaged by flood, I reckon that this is the time for the federal government as well as all 36 states speedily ensures that they seek to prevent similar occurrences in future.

A clap on the back of the Commissioner for Environment in Lagos state, Dr. Babatunde Adejare, who a couple of weeks ago was seen inspecting the removal of major canals and drainages along major roads.

These roads were freed of debris and refuse in an attempt to ensure the free flow of water when the rains come.

That has perhaps helped play its own part in the prevention of floods in the state as the rains haven’t let up for the last six to eight days in the state.

Another commendation goes to the ministry of environment in Benue state who say they are presently aggressively clearing their channels, canals and waterways to prevent huge floods especially along the banks of River Benue.

The expectation of Nigerians is that more of this would become the norm across various agencies and ministries of environment as we cannot continue to fear for lives and property simply because our farmers are singing Majek Fashek’s hit song “Send Down The Rain”.

PS: International agencies like UNEP, NGO’s and philanthropists are motivated to action when the government at various arms takes the lead role.

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