Following the recent weather forecast for the year 2023 released by the Nigeria Meteorological Agency, Sunday Ehigiator in this report, writes on why relevant agencies of government at the national and state levels must immediately act on the warnings.
The 2023 NiMET forecasts have warned of massive variation in the onset of rainfall in most parts of the country and that as early as March, the coastal zone of the South-south states of Bayelsa, Rivers, and Akwa Ibom will observe unpleasant rainfall changes.
It forecast that the central states are likely to wait till May while Katsina, Zamfara, Kano, Jigawa, Yobe, Cross River, Ebonyi, Imo, and Rivers will experience delayed onset of rainfall.
It said for Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Yobe and Borno the rains would not begin until June and July, “only Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kwara Gombe, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun, and Lagos will be near normal but with a worrisome quantity.”
NiMET added that the noticeable increase in climate change and human-triggered activities including indiscriminate dumping of wastes will cause more floods in 2023 and that the waters will come in high intensity within a short duration.
While the country has begun to experience rainfall in selective states such as Lagos, Ogun, Portharcourt, and Edo, with little or no serious consequence, it is however important that government take necessary steps to mitigate devastating consequences of flooding before it is too late.
The NiMET Forecast
According to NiMET Director General, Mansur Matazu, the annual rainfall amount was expected to range from 420 mm in the northern region to 3,253 mm in the coastal areas.
He said the length of the growing season would range from 84 to 283 days, adding that most parts of the country would experience the long-term average, while some parts such as Katsina, Jigawa, and Kano, would have shorter-term average length.
“An early end of the season is predicted over parts of the south, especially in Osun, Ondo, Edo, Delta, Imo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and eastern parts of Ogun and Lagos and parts of Yobe, Adamawa, Niger, Nasarawa and Kogi.
“However, an extended rainfall season is predicted over parts of Gombe, Kaduna, Kwara, Enugu, Anambra, western Ogun, and Lagos. The end-of-season period is expected to range from September 26 to December 25.
“Dry spell occurrences have characterised our seasons in recent years. In 2023, we should also prepare for its occurrence between June and early July as a dry spell lasting between 15 to 21 days is in the forecast, especially from the central parts of the country to the north.
“When compared to last year, the little dry season (August Break) for 2023 is expected to be less intense. It is expected to last between 14 and 20 days starting from late July, especially over the southwest of the country.
“The extreme northern states are predicted to have onset between June and July, with the Northern fringes of Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Yobe, and Borno states predicted to likely have onset between June 20 and July 7, 2023.”
NiHSA 2023 Prediction
Like its counterpart, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) also predicted in its 2023 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) that 178 Local Government Areas (LGA’s) in 32 States of the federation and the FCT fall within the Highly Probable Flood Risks Areas.
“They include: Adamawa, Abia, Akwa- Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross-River, Delta, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, as well as Zamfara and the FCT.
“While 224 LGAs in 35 States of the Federation including FCT fall within the moderately probable flood Risks Areas, the remaining 372 LGAs fall within the probable Flood Risks Areas.”
NiHSA further revealed that the Highly Probable Flood Risks Areas are expected between April and November, adding that the level of floods in this category is expected to be high in terms of impact on the population, agriculture, livelihood, livestock and infrastructure, and the environment.
It said part of 66 LGAs across the country fall within the Highly Probable Risks Areas, in April, May, and June, while part of 148 LGAs in October and November 2023.
Expected Flood Types
According to the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman H. Adamu, at the Public Presentation of the 2023 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO), held in February 2023, “moderate impact level of floods are expected in parts of 41 LGAs within April, May, and June, while parts of 199 LGAs fall within July, August, and September, and parts of 73 LGA’s within October and November 2023.”
He hinted that Bayelsa, Cross-River, Delta, Edo, Lagos, Ogun, Rivers, and Ondo will be experiencing Coastal flooding due to a rise in sea level and tidal surge which would impact fishing, wildlife habitation and river navigation, whilst cities like Lagos, Kaduna, Suleija, Gombe, Yola, Makurdi, Abuja, Lafia, Asaba, Port- Harcourt, Yenagoa, Ibadan, Benin-City, Birnin- Kebbi, Lokoja, Kano, Nsukka, Sokoto, Ado- Ekiti, Owerri, Calabar, Maiduguri, Osogbo, Abakaliki and Awka will be experiencing flash and urban flooding.
He, therefore, said, “The Federal Government is committed to ensuring that necessary measures are taken to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters taking into cognisance the devastating consequences of the 2022 floods.”
Consequences and Mitigation
As the rainy season begins in Nigeria, there is a significant risk of heavy flooding across the country’s 36 states and the capital territory. This will hit communities hard, as they are still recovering from last year’s floods.
Aside from the effect on the supply of the Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) across various states in the country, the consequent fuel scarcity, and price hike of food and other commodities, the 2022 floods which ravaged most states of the federation as well as the attendant loss of lives and the economic toll put at over N4 trillion was an avoidable tragedy that must not happen again in 2023.
Speaking with THISDAY, the Executive Director of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Akinbode Olufemi expressed worries that nothing seems to have changed since the 2022 flood at the federal and state levels.
According to him, “The lackadaisical attitudes that led to the loss of lives and property are still with us even though the 2022 floods affected about 20 states, killed about 603 people, and rendered more than 1.3 million homeless while over 108,393 hectares of farmlands were destroyed with attendant effects on food security, the economy, health, security, and the environment and that affected Nigerians are still battling with.”
To forestall any repeat, he said the federal and sub-national governments must respond to the early warning systems with synergy. He also advocated for funds to be released for the building of more dams to hold water.
“In like manner, funds should be voted for the construction of buffer dams to accommodate excess water runoff upstream, particularly from the Lagdo dam in Cameroon.
“Secondly, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) must leverage the precision of the geographical information systems and other meteorological data in its quest to reduce human exposure to flood risk and for emergency evacuation.
“There is a need for the government to dredge major rivers to accommodate high volumes of water and to promote inland waterways.
“Nigerians must not be allowed to suffer needlessly. Now is the time for intervention ahead of the rains and the flooding that will follow. Delay is not only dangerous, but it is also costly,” he said.