The experts in a survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in the South South region also blamed the situation on government’s poor waste management .
Flooding: Experts blame Nigerians’ attitude, allege govt’s neglect of NiMet warning
Some environmentalists have blamed the attitude of some Nigerians who block drains with waste and build on water channels, resulting in aggravation of flooding in communities, towns and cities.
They alleged that government neglected flood forecasts by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMeT) and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency.
The respondents further said that the absence of active town planning laws and poor implementation of existing ones were part of the causes of flooding.
According to them, some states have obsolete laws while others cannot implement them due to corruption.
The experts added that these lapses had caused serious devastation in the country as many lives and properties had been lost and many rendered homeless.
They, however, urged government to immediately institute preventive measures both at the state and federal levels to tackle the menace.
According to Mr Princewill Ayim, Director General, Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, there was an early red alert from NiMeT that water would be discharged from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon on Sept. 13, 2022.
“Unfortunately, there was no proactive measures taken by the Federal and State Governments to prevent the water from causing havoc in Nigeria.
“The Lagdo Dam has contributed largely to the flooding being experienced in some states in the south,” he said.
An environmentalist in Calabar, Mr Osita Obi, said that ensuring clean drainages at all times as well as effective waste control and management system would assist in abating flooding.
A town planner with the Cross River Town Planning Service, Mr Anthony Okon, said that neglect of town planners in building projects contributed to blockage of waterways and submerging of buildings during flooding.
Similarly, the Chairman, Nigeria Institute of Town Planners, Edo chapter, Inanigie Audu, observed that the flood ravaging the country was a product of uncoordinated and unregulated human activities over the years.
Audu noted that cities and towns had been left to grow in an unregulated manner and services of the town planners were not employed for proper development.
According to him, builders even go as far as sand-filling swampy areas and building on waterways.
‘’There are natural drainage created by nature such that when town planners are designing a building layout, they recognise these natural drain areas.
‘’And when rain falls, water naturally drains into them as provided by nature.
‘’We need state governments to domesticate the Urban and Regional Planning Decree of 1992 to empower and protect town planners to carry out their duties effectively,’’ he said.
He regretted that the neglect of meteorologists’ forecasts for hazardous weather and climate conditions by Nigerians and government had compounded the problem.
Audu said that the issue of climate change made it imperative for government to act otherwise.
An environmentalist in Auchi, Mr Abass Ibrahim, urged the federal government to intensify efforts to reduce the impact of climate change in the country.
Ibrahim, a lecturer in the School of Environmental Studies, Auchi Polytechnic, said that the torrential rains being experienced at present impacted on the soil capacity to absorb the high volume of water.
‘’This means that the flowing water will have to find a channel for itself. In situations and where flood plains have been blocked by buildings, the implication is flooding,’’ he said.
The expert highlighted decaying drainage infrastructures, dumping of refuse in water channels and poor environmental governance as part of the causes of flooding.
Ibrahim, however, urged Nigerians living in flood-prone areas to adhere to NiMet’s weather predictions and take appropriate measures to prevent loss of lives and damage to property.
Meanwhile, churches, mosques, markets, schools, and houses in no fewer than 12 communities were submerged by flood recently in Etsako Central Local Government Area (LGA) of Edo.
The communities are Udaba-Ekphei, Anegbette, Ukpeko Orie, Ofukpo, Agbabu, Osomegbe, Udochi, Yelwa, Ake Island and Ifeku Islay.
Crops affected by the ravaging flood include rice, cassava, vegetables, potatoes and groundnut among others.
A victim from Udaba community, Mr Isaac Omoaka, said that since he was born, he had never seen such devastation by flood, adding, ‘’this year’s flooding is 10 times that of 2012.
The traditional ruler of Anegbette, Chief Geffrey Ugbodada, said that the flood had inflicted untold hardship on his people, rendering them homeless and helpless.
‘’Our people are very hardworking farmers who do not depend on government or support from anyone to earn a living,’’ he said.
He, however urged government and good spirited Nigerians to donate relief materials to the victims of flood disaster in Nigeria.
Also in Delta, Chief Sylvanus Ejezie, Chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), urged government to support the victims, especially farmers with food and other relief materials to enable them to recover from the disaster.
Ejezie lamented his loss of over 70 hectares of rice farm, home and rice mill, adding that Oko communities including Omelugboma were all submerged.
“I have lost everything; over 36 hectares of rice farm in Omelugboma here in Oko, and another 40 hectares at Ngegwu, Ajaji, Illah to flood.
“Also, flood has taken my rice mill at Abraka in Asaba; there is nothing left for me.
‘’The situation is terrible and it will be difficult for me to start all over again without government support,’’ he lamented.
On his part, the Delta Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Godfrey Enita, decried the devastating effect of the flood, particularly on farmers and the nation’s economy.
“We visited some hectares of rice farms which have been taken over by flood. This is massive destruction running into millions on naira; these are all large scale farms,” he lamented.
Enita said that field officers had been directed to open desks for enumeration of victims, and expressed hope that the government would assist to mitigate the impact.
The Delta Chairman, Fishery Cooperative Federation of Nigeria, Chief Adim Nwokobia, lamented the challenges facing the nation’s economy including insecurity, high cost of farm inputs, rising inflation and flood.
He urged government to address food insecurity by giving soft and interest-free loans, grants, as well as implements to real farmers to enhance food production.
Nwokobia said that no nation could survive on crude oil without food needed for development, and predicted scarcity of food and starvation if the flood remained unabated.
‘’As we speak, my fish farm at Camp 5, Anwai, near Asaba which is running into millions of naira has been submerged.
“So, having lost everything, even if the flood stops today, I will find it difficult to start my business again without the assistance of government.
“If nothing is done quickly to arrest the yearly flooding in the next three years, there will be no food to eat even if you have money to buy.
Similarly a farmer and victim of flood in Rivers, Mr Sodin Akiagba, said that Engenni Community was one of the worse flood-hit areas in Ahoada-West Local Government Area.
Akiagba, the spokesman for the Engenni Ethnic Nationality Forum (EENF), said that the huge loss of farmlands posed great danger to food security in 2023.
Contributing, Prof. Wai Gosi of the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, accused the federal government of poor response to the NiMet’s flood predictions.
According to him, government has continued to neglect the construction of the Dansin Hausa Dam expected to accommodate water whenever there is an excess release from the Cameroon’s Lagdo dam.
Gosi urged the federal government to as a matter of urgency commence construction of the dam to save the country from further flood disaster.
A waste management expert in Port Harcourt, Mr Joseph Abu, said that apart from climate change, Nigeria had yet to implement environment-friendly policies aimed at flood prevention and control.
He noted that most populated cities in the country were faced with the challenge of managing non-bio degradable materials like plastic waste which also accumulated in drains, preventing free flow of water.
Abu said most residents were fond of dumping refuse in drains either due to inadequate dump sites across residential areas or habit, adding that this had contributed to perennial flooding over the years.
In the same vein, another environmentalist, Mr Fegalo Nsuke, said that government had greater role to play than the citizens who were regulated by government’s standards.
‘’If government is failing to set and enforce standards, citizens will naturally flout rules.
“Sadly, the flood has created security issues and emergencies with children, girls, women and young people becoming vulnerable to abuse and crime,” he said.
Nsuke also criticised inadequate synergy between government and town planners, adding that town planners lacked legislative powers to oversee buildings and constructions.
Collaborating him, a town planner in Akwa Ibom, Akpabio Ufot-Akpabio, opined that adequate and holistic physical planning, management and development must be put in place to mitigate flooding in the country.
Ufot-Akpabio, a representative of Akwa Ibom in the Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria (TOPREC), told NAN that some states were still operating obsolete colonial town planning laws.
However, Dr Sunday Ntoiden, Controller, Federal Ministry of Environment in Akwa Ibom, maintained that even when town planning was perfect, attitudes of Nigerians must change to avoid the menace.
‘’You see people carrying bags of waste to dump inside drains. You see people build shops and block drains and water will not flow the way it should. So attitudinal change has to be addressed,’’ he said.
Ntoiden, however, urged government to sensitise residents on the best practice of waste disposal, advising residents to inculcate the habit of desilting drainages, especially during raining seasons to avoid flooding.
Similarly in Bayelsa, Prof. Dimie Miebi, of the Department of Geography and Environmental Management Sciences, Niger Delta University, Otuoke, said poor or non-existent drainage systems caused flooding in Nigeria
Miebi said Nigeria’s increasing urbanisation had contributed to the growing proportion of ground surface concrete, preventing percolation of water.
He said that the anthropogenic factors, including roadside dumping, dumping in canals, and dumping in drains worsened flooding problem in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, an economist in Yenagoa, Dr Hebron Oweifa, has called for active implementation of planning laws, eradication of political interference and checking of corruption to ensure effective town planning.
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