The Director-General, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, Mr Clement Nze, tells OKECHUKWU NNODIM that the devastation caused by floods in many states is as a result of the failure of the governments to adhere to warnings
What are the types of flooding being experienced in Nigeria?
There are three major types of flooding that we experience in Nigeria. The first one is river flooding, which is not just from rivers that are within Nigeria but from River Niger and River Benue, and these are trans-boundary waters. There is also urban/flash flooding, and these are caused by poor drainage systems or even non-existing drainage systems in many major cities in Nigeria. Lastly is coastal or tidal flooding for states that are within coastal areas such as Ondo, Lagos, Bayelsa and Rivers.
Now, it is important to state that our Annual Flood Outlook is a scientific prediction done using historical data physically collected in the field, some of them over 40 to 50 years ago. So, we use it to project and see what is going to happen tomorrow. And from what we have seen using international standards to predict, we have said that not less than 121 Local Government Areas in Nigeria, in 27 states actually, will be affected by flooding in the course of the year. Also, about 302 LGAs will experience different magnitudes of flooding. And about 351 LGAs may have a lesser severity of flooding. But like I said, it is a prediction, which we monitor closely by weekly publications. We are talking about the issue of climate change and so what you see today may not be what will happen tomorrow. So, as a result of that, we will be updating the media, states and others on what they are likely to observe in the course of the year.
How are you interfacing with the states with respect to predictions in the AFOs?
We will be doing sensitisation programmes and will downscale it to the states. We will tell the governors that these are the locations in your state that are likely to be affected in the course of the year 2021. We informed the public through the press some months ago, as preparatory to the unveiling of the 2021 AFO. And by protocol, it is the Minister of Water Resources who interfaces with the governors on behalf of the agency. Last year, for instance, the minister sent letters to each of the state governors in Nigeria and detailed the states that would be affected by flooding in that year. But what they did with it is another cup of tea.
Also, we go through other systems in the states such as their emergency management agencies, water resources and environment ministries. We interface with them directly, but what they do with our information is another issue.
Are you satisfied with what states are doing about the recommendations in the AFOs?