Last year, 2022, Nigeria witnessed one of the gravest floods ever. This was affirmed by the Director-General, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Mustapha Habib Ahmed when he described it as the worst flood in the country’s history.
Indeed, the figures did tell that the flood was very severe. It affected all the thirty-six states in the country including the Federal Capital territory, FCT, with varying degrees of damages. The devasting effect of the flood tell in the figures: a total of 612 persons lost their lives; 3,219,780 persons were affected; 1,427,370 persons were displaced and 2,776 others suffered various degrees of injuries.
Also, a total of 181,600 houses were partially damaged and 123,807 houses were totally damaged not excluding the figure of lost farm lands where a total of 176,852 hectares of farmland were partially destroyed while 392,300 hectares of farmland got totally destroyed as a result of the floods. This was according to National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.
The NEMA flood damage report did not capture the losses incurred by some individuals; like where some people lost their goods in flooded roads while others could not meet up with their appointments thereby losing out in contracts and jobs.
One important fact to note is that the 2022 flood occurred because there were no lessons learnt by relevant authorities of government from the 2012 flood, ten years after, which was then also described by the Federal Government as worst flood in the history of Nigeria.
Again, for 2023 as there has always been, there are predictions of flood in the country. In the report by leadership newspaper, in February 2023, the 2023 Seasonal Climate Predictions, SCP, by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMET, confirmed the fears of most Nigerians of another impending flooding, which will lead to devastating effect on farming and attendant food shortage. The director-general of NiMET, Prof. Mansur Matau, said: “Flooding is a natural event and with the increase in climate change activities we are going to see more floods.”
The issue is not the alarm bell rang by the NiMET boss but the seemingly gross negligence of relevant authorities and government to arrest the situation before it occurs or better still, take necessary steps to reduce the impact of flood.
For instance, while many experts have called for the dredging of the two largest rivers in Nigeria, Niger and Benue, to check the flood in the country, government seemed not be bothered by their calls. Hamza Yunusa, a hydrogeologist, had said: that River dredging could reduce river floods; oftentimes, rivers break their banks and overflow when the river bed is not deep enough.”
Of course, both river Niger and Benue are suffering from waste deposits or sediments contributing to issues of climate change. For example, there are high refuse deposits under the bridge of river Benue, suggesting more could be found in the river bed. The question is, has government attended to issues of recycling to reduce waste in the society? The answer is obviously no.
Measures to control flood in Nigeria
Agreed, flood is a natural disaster, but it can be controlled.
As another flooding year is here, government must stop being reactive but proactive. Let it begin the dredging of the two largest rivers in Nigeria and construct dams. Let it invest int massive waste recycling to reduce sediments in the riverbeds. While, On individual note, people should plant vegetation to retain the water and build reservoir to collect water.
While government may not be able to achieve anything significant to control flood this year than to wait and give relief materials to flood victims, it is, however, very pertinent to state, that if nothing is done in the coming years, the flood in the country will continue to get the appellation year in and out as “worst flood in the history of the country,” but of course the impact will be massive, leaving NEMA, unfortunately, to only read the figures of the impact for news report.