Flood in FCT, who is in charge?

Flood in FCT, who is in charge?

By Yemi Esho, Abuja

When the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), the agency in charge of weather forecast in the country warned of imminent danger of flooding in Nigeria, especially in the coastal areas, Nigerians in their characteristic manners turned deaf ears and continue with their usual hustling and bustling. Unlike in advanced countries where drainages are cleared as at when due, and channelization of water is giving priority, it is the other way around in Nigeria and everybody is guilty.

In the forecast, NiMET had in its 2017 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) said floods would likely occur in Sokoto, Zamfara, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun and Adamawa states because of above normal rainfall in 2017. Presenting the report NiMet Director-General, Prof. Sani Abubakar Mashi said “NiMet predicts the earliest onset date to be February 25th over the coastal region of the Niger Delta. Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba, Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Ondo, Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers States are predicted to record early onset dates by about 3 to 7 days.

True to the forecast, some parts of the country have been ravaged by flood with attendant loss of lives and properties with thousands rendered homeless and seeking refuge in makeshift camps provided by the concerned authorities. States like Benue, Rivers, Lagos have experienced flooding and even the FCT is not left out. In Lagos, highbrow areas like Victoria Island which housed the high and the mighty did not escape the wrath of the flood and the Benue flood would be around for a long time.   An estimated 110,000 people were reportedly left homeless by the flood that sacked some communities in Benue State in August.  Apart from rendering thousands homeless, it also washed away villages, farmlands, and food storage facilities among others. Kebbi and Rivers States are also not left out with attendant loss of properties.

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Nigerians flout environmental laws with reckless abandon and this has resulted in man-made disasters that have ravaged the country.  Elected officials, political appointees and ordinary citizens in Nigeria take environmental hygiene as secondary. It is in this country that you must treat adults like kindergarten before they do the right thing. Roads are littered with water sachets, papers and the likes by commuters who have formed the habits of throwing objects on the walkway and highways from their vehicles. 

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja have witnessed its own flood in the year 2017. The first flood was recorded in June in Karu where a man was reported to have lost his life. It was the turn of DeiDei in July as an entire family was almost wiped out but for the timely intervention of neighbours who came to the family’s rescue, but despite that lives were lost. The one that got the attention of Abuja residents happened in Lokogoma area of the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) when a heavy downpour claimed three lives, a father and his two children. The father was taking his kids to a summer class in the early morning when he was swept away by flood resulting from heavy downpour.  About 20 housing estates were also affected by the flood which destroyed properties worth millions of naira.

Investigations by AljazirahNigeria revealed that residents defy the law of nature by building on waterways despite consistent warnings and awareness from government agencies and non-governmental organizations. The indiscriminate dumping of refuse by Abuja residents has led to drainage overflow which causes traffic gridlock in some part of the city. Estate developers have also contributed to the flood that has ravaged some residences through the haphazard ways they put on their structures. AljazirahNigeria observed that most of the estates in the FCT lack adequate infrastructural facilities and access roads. The developers swindle the prospective buyers of their buildings by selling to them during the dry season and when the rainy season comes, the occupants count their losses in millions.

FEMA Reacts

The public relations officer of the FCT-Federal Emergency Management Agency (FCT-FEMA), Mr Emeka Iwuagwu, in an interview with AljazirahNigeria said his agency has carried out early warning campaign for residents to prepare for any flood. The spokesperson said the campaign came in the last quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 in the whole of the FCT and taken to schools as part of efforts to create awareness in the minds of the young ones. According to him, the agency have been to all the six area councils where they met with the village heads and their subjects to sensitize and lecture them on dangers associated with flood through video clips from FCT, Nigeria and abroad in addition to running jingles on radio stations in the FCT.  Iwuagwu said they have visited the councils with resource persons and disaster management experts who lectured and showed the people the clips so they can believe that that ‘flood is real’.

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Iwuagwu said, “FCT-FEMA is a proactive organization that works in collaboration with different agencies in the FCT to sensitize Abuja residents on emergency especially flood.  We started the campaign in the last quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 in the whole of the FCT. We have been to all the six area councils met with the village heads and their subjects to sensitize and lecture them on dangers associated with flood. We have also run jingles on major radio stations in Abuja. Our efforts have made significant impacts because we have the area councils with disaster management experts who showed them video clips of flood in the FCT, Nigeria and outside the country. But despite all these warnings, we lost a gentleman in Karu in June, the second one was DeiDei in July, a man lost two wives and the son and of course the one that in Lokogoma where a father and his two children were swept away by flood in their vehicle.”

According to Iwuagwu, FCT-FEMA does not enforce the law but only gives humanitarian and voluntary services on how to react to emergencies. He informed AljazirahNigeria that they work in collaboration with the Satellite Towns Development Department (STDD), Development Control Department of the FCT administration, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) and the environmental task force. He, however, called on the people to respect environmental laws for healthy living and advised them to buy land or landed properties during the raining season to prevent loss of properties.

“We have discovered that one of the major causes of flood in the FCT is that people build house along the river banks. These houses block the waterways and you know water must find its way. And when the water comes and finds its way we all know what we follow, loss of lives and property. We have observed that our people have decided to take laws into their hands by disposing of refuse indiscriminately in waterways. But what they fail to realize is that the refuse you dropped in Karshi will go to Abaji and cause havoc there. Truth be told, our people engage in a lot of risk behavior. The estate developers too are not helping because they want to make quick money. They don’t provide basic infrastructural facilities in the estates like access roads, drainages and good sewage system. I will advise the residents to buy the properties during the rainy season and not during the dry season. When you buy your properties during the rainy season, you get the best but purchasing during the dry season could be deceptive because everywhere will be dry and these are the tactics or deceits employed by the developers to swindle their clients,” he stated.

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As it is done in developed countries of the world, it is important that all relevant agencies saddled with emergencies in FCT and Nigeria work hand in hand to alleviate people’s sufferings in time of need and the citizens, in turn, respect environmental laws.  

 

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