The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency has said state governments ignored its repeated warnings on impending flooding in the country.
The agency’s Director-General, Clement Nze, said his agency had earlier in the year sounded the alarm of the heavy downpour and consequent flooding expected in the country but the state governments did not prepare by taking proactive and preventive environmental measures.
NIHSA had said no fewer than 102 local government areas in 28 states fall within highly probable flood risk zones.
So far this year, Kebbi, Niger, Zamfara, Sokoto, Bauchi states, amongst others, have been ravaged by floods, with scores killed, thousands displaced and farmlands washed away.
Speaking on Saturday while featuring on Channels Television’s Sunrise programme, Nze said his agency did its part by sounding the alarm and releasing forecast to state governments, noting, “We cannot go to the states to pull down structures which the state governments had given permits to be built at wrong locations.”
The director-general said, “Most of the states work without information. Following the prediction by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency which was made public earlier in May with regards to flooding season in Nigeria, the Honourable Minister of Water Resources, Engr Suleiman Adamu, authored letters addressed to state governors mentioning the names of the local government areas prone to flooding in Nigeria.
“The letters were specific to each of the state governors, each of the state governors was told these are the local government areas in your states that will be inundated in the cause of the flooding season. The question will be: governor A, governor B, what did you do with the information given to you?
“We performed our own part of the duty, there are different legs – the forecasting agency which predicts earlier before the events begin to happen. The other leg of it is those that are supposed to implement the issues raised in the forecast, what have they done to ensure the impact of what we are experiencing now is reduced?
“My agency sent out an alarm in April that this is the right season, that the best time to prepare for war is during the time of peace. Now that there is no rain yet, not much, or if there had been any rain at all as at February 4, no flooding incident had been recorded in Nigeria. That was the time states could have done some remedial measures. But what did the state governments do?
“The Federal Government in Abuja will not go to states which have their own level of autonomy to begin to demolish the structures that are obstructing the flow of floods or to begin to clear their drainages or to begin to construct drainages that did not exist at all. The federal-level had done its own work and the other level of government is expected to follow suit.”
He said his agency raised another signal in July that most parts of the country were being ravaged by urban and coastal flooding caused by the absence of drainages and other structure, adding “that the third leg of the flood is still coming sometime in August or September” but most of the states also ignored this warning.
On the way forward, Nze suggested that states should “build divergent structures as the River Niger is flowing. We have advocated that channels be constructed, artificial drainages, from the bank of the River Niger in each of the states as many as you can construct, build a deep channel during the dry season, let the water be 50km away from the bank of the river and then construct a reservoir, 50 meters in length and 30 meters deep so that when the water is passing during the rainy season, much will be entering these basins.