The authorities must pay attention to the environment

Following the recent floods that claimed several lives and destroyed property across the country, there is need for all the relevant authorities and critical stakeholders to take the issue of environment much more seriously. In the recent deluge, one of the hardest hit was Lagos where residents, especially in the Lekki and Victoria Island–affluent suburbs that are home to some of the most expensive real estates on the continent–woke up to find their homes almost submerged.

While reliable statistics are hard to come by, the loss to the floods was nonetheless colossal and many are still counting the cost as property valued in several billions of naira was destroyed. Yet the floods did not just happen on the nation by some accident. There were several warnings from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet). That they were not heeded only served to show the lackadaisical attitude to serious issues that defines our country today.

In Niger State, which was also severely hit by the flood, no fewer than 25 persons were confirmed dead in Suleja and part of Tafa Local Government Areas, with scores of others injured. Property worth several millions of naira was also destroyed in Kaltuma and Angwan Gwari in Suleja local government area of the state. In response to this particular tragedy and the damage wreaked in some other states after the heavy rains, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo ordered the immediate release of N1.6 billion for 16 states ravaged by the floods across the country.

In the aftermath of the Lagos flood, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) blamed the “environmentally-unfriendly projects” by the Lagos State government along the coastlines, especially the Lekki-Ajah axis, for what happened. If there is any state that should be wary of the risks associated with rising sea levels, it is Lagos but that is where the authorities have embarked on big projects against the force of nature.
It is indeed noteworthy that floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters in terms of human hardship and economic loss and they have caused untold damage in the last couple of years, especially with prolonged rainfall over several days. Hundreds of thousands of our citizens who were rendered homeless in 2015 as a result of flooding are still in internally displaced peoples (IDPs) camps. Although several billions of naira was raised in the name of these unfortunate citizens, that money is yet to be properly accounted for.

Elementary science teaches that as global temperatures rise, the oceans get warmer. When water heats up, it expands and leading to 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 and causing serious problems. But in the case of Nigeria, flooding cannot be solely explained by the factor of nature. The habit of the people indeed plays a crucial role in what has been happening over the years anytime it rains.

In several states across the country, most of the drains are blocked due to the indiscriminate dumping on roads and drainages disposable empty cans and pure water sachets, among others. This dirty attitude quite naturally led to blockages of canals and man-holes resulting in the type of floods that occur regularly. There are also several buildings that have been erected on drainage channels. When the floods recede, the authorities in all the 36 states must endeavour to go beyond mere promises and relief handouts and begin to undertake concrete preventive measures through clearing of drainages and improvement of the riverbanks.

In several states across the country, most of the drains are blocked due to the indiscriminate dumping on roads and drainages disposable empty cans and pure water sachets, among others