Government must do more for the endangered communities
Less than a week after the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) issued an alert that no fewer than 11 states were prone to flooding, the prediction has come to pass with dire consequences. In several parts of Nigeria within the past few days, residential buildings, schools and places of worship had been destroyed while villages and farmlands were swamped with floodwaters. Sadly, many more people are joining the growing population of the internally displaced.
Against the background that NiMet had listed the flood-prone states as Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Kaduna, Kwara, Nasarawa, Yobe and Zamfara, the tragedy being witnessed has come as no surprise, even though states like Kano, Plateau and others that were not listed are also being swamped by flood rain.
In recent weeks, there had been series of warnings, particularly to those living along the banks of the River Niger to immediately relocate to safer places.The report indicated that the flood path traversing the Republics of Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria would remain dangerous, warning that an estimated 105,000 Nigerians may be affected. Not many people heeded the warning. Now floods are occurring with a vengeance, endangering many people and bringing down everything on its path.
Nigeria has many challenges, but the environment is not often listed as one of them. It is therefore time Nigeria became part of the global trend of putting issues of the environment on the front burner while the relevant authorities should be proactive in preventing disasters. And when they inevitably occur, governments at all tiers, complemented by private sector organisations and well-endowed individuals, should come to the aid of the victims as we see in other parts of the world.
Elementary science teaches that as global temperatures rise, oceans get warmer. When water heats up, it expands, leading to a rise in sea levels as we have been witnessing in several countries in recent times. It is therefore no surprise that in several coastal cities across the world today, climate change is creating a situation where too much water comes at an unexpected time, or in unexpected places causing serious problems. It is little wonder that the densely populated, low-lying cities and towns in our country have also become environmental nightmares for most of their inhabitants on account of flooding.
However, beyond the intervention of the government at all levels is the need for Nigerians to begin to imbibe the right attitude to waste disposal because flooding in some of our major cities cannot be solely attributed to the quirks of nature. The habits of the people indeed play a crucial role in what has been happening over the years anytime it rains. Most drains are blocked due to the indiscriminate dumping of waste on the roads and drainages.
This unsanitary attitude quite naturally leads to blockages of canals and man-holes resulting in the type of floods that have been witnessed in recent weeks. There are also several buildings that have been erected on drainage channels. This ugly trend must stop while the state government must ensure that all those buildings are pulled down for free flow of water into the canals.
However, it is not enough for the government to just ask citizens to leave flood paths without providing any measures for their relocation. There is need therefore to resettle those living close to flood-prone areas. There will be resistance from some people, but they must be made to realise the consequences of whatever choice they make: between accepting to be resettled and staying back in their endangered communities.