The seasonal climate prediction by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (Nimet) for 2021 is a reminder for governments and other stakeholders at all levels to make adequate preparations to avert another disaster that could worsen our woes as a nation.
The kennel of the latest prediction announced by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, is that some states will experience above normal rainfall patterns, resulting in flash floods. In some parts of the north, the reverse will be the situation as there will be a most severe dry spell.
It is 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. We therefore urge the public and the authorities to take advantage of this advisory and begin to prepare so that nobody will be caught unawares. By ignoring early warnings in the past, several farms, roads, bridges, and homes have been submerged with lives lost. We should do everything to avoid those tragedies.
From desert encroachment to erosions and flooding, Nigeria has in recent years witnessed a steady increase in the number of natural environmental disasters. It is therefore no surprise that in several coastal communities across the country, climate change is creating a situation where too much water comes at an unexpected time, or in unexpected places causing serious problems. With that, densely populated, low-lying cities and towns in our country have also become an environmental nightmare for most of the inhabitants on account of flooding.
Instructively, while Nigeria has many challenges, the environment is not often listed as one of them. That only shows our lackadaisical disposition to serious issues. It is time Nigeria became part of the global trend of putting issues of the environment on the front burner while the relevant authorities should be more proactive, especially in the prevention of natural disasters. And when they inevitably occur, governments at all tiers, complemented by private organisations and well-endowed individuals, should come to the aid of the victims as we see in other parts of the world.
Beyond such intervention both by the government and private sector is the need for Nigerians to begin to imbibe the correct attitude to waste disposal because flooding in some of our major cities 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. Most of the drains are blocked due to the indiscriminate throwing on the roads and drainages of disposable cans and pure water nylons, among others.
We must not neglect the fact that many of our rivers will overflow their banks and flood plains primarily because of excessive rainfall coupled with the large volume of water received from inlets and other tributaries. This will cause the submergence of many houses leading to the displacement of many people in addition to the loss of lives. Besides, economic activities which are the sources of livelihood of many will be paralysed and bridges which provide intra and inter-community access for many will be damaged, making it perilous to drive across them. Heavy rains will also wash off many roads while their agricultural yields will be considerably low because many farmlands will be flooded and eroded.
The focus should be on prevention and pre-emptive intervention. Nothing is gained when resources that should be put into developmental initiatives are dissipated in dealing with avoidable emergencies and calamities.