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Editorial: Taming The Surging Flood In Nigeria

For months now Nigeria has been battling with flooding that has devastated parts of the country. Tongues have been wagging as to the possible causes of the nightmare. Some say it was first experienced in 1969, while others say it has never happened in their life time. Whatever be the case, what is important is that it has happened and therefore we should find solution to it. Anon Tombi, an Eurocentric Historian once said that Africans lack history because the only challenge that confronted them was the encroachment of the Sahara desert, and that instead of Africans tackling the problem, they ran into the forest. He further urged that history only comes through the ability of tackling problems frontally. The current flood in the country should therefore be used to prove Tombi wrong.
In as much as the cause of the flooding maybe important, tackling the menace is more important.
Some people say the flooding emanated from water released from a dam in Cameroon. Others say the River Niger overflew its banks, entering River Benue, River Nun, Sombreiro and went up to Orashi.
The fact remains that the Federal Ministry of Environment and Nigeria Metrological Agency (NIMETH) have before now forecast heavy rainfall which they said would result to the flooding. The authorities concerned did not do anything to the warning. And here we are today. The forecast has come to pass. The flood which started from Anambra State spread to Taraba, Lagos, Ibadan, Gombe and later Bayelsa and Rivers States, among others.
In Rivers State, four local government areas, namely, Ahoada West, Ahoada East, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni and Abua/Odual were worst hit.
Government at all levels have constituted committees upon committees in response to the release of N17.6bn by the federal government in which states got N500m, N400m, N300m and so on, as the case may be.
What is clear now is that while we are rehabitating the displaced flood victims, we should pay more attention on how to avert future occurrences. We are aware that the recent attempt by the federal government to dredge the River Niger was visited by all manner of protests and opposition. A primary knowledge of the causes of flooding is nothing but the overflow of a river bed. Going by that, it won’t be out of place to posit that if the federal government has been allowed to dredge the River Niger then, possibly the ugly experience of today would not have occurred.
We therefore solicit that as a long term solution to future flooding, the federal government should as a matter of urgency dredge the major rivers in Nigeria.
Secondly, communities should adhere strictly to the advice of environmental experts on the proper distance to keep from a river bank before building houses for the law of safety is strict on the fact that if one cannot work safely, it is better not to work at all. There is no point building houses very close to river banks or water channels only to be swept away by flood.
It is always wise to make hay while the sun shines. ###

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