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Reps urge FG to clear flood-prone area

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By Usman Oladimeji

Federal gov’t need to emplace adequate materials in flood-prone areas.

With the early onset of the rainy season as previously forecasted by experts, anticipation of heavy rains and flooding activities that may arise have plunged many into disarray, especially those residing in flooding prone areas. To prevent this menace, the House of Representatives has called on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to collaborate with relevant Federal Government agencies to relocate residents of flood-prone areas. The House also requested that NEMA make sure the Federal Government emplace adequate shelter materials, food and nutrition items, and medicine to support those in flood-prone areas.

The House had asked for a briefing from the Director-General of NEMA and other Federal Government Agencies on efforts to reduce the severity of floods and the economic and social effects they have on people who live in flood plains in Nigeria. Following the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance on: “Need to Commence Active Measures to Mitigate Probable Devastation of a Severe Flood Season and prepare Palliative Intervention to Prevent worst Socio-Economic Consequences for Nigerians in Affected Areas,” moved by Femi Gbajabiamila, (APC, Lagos), at plenary on Wednesday, the following resolutions were passed.

An early start to the rainy season has materialized.

Through the process of an amendment to the motion, the House demanded that the Presidential Committee on Management of Floods and Disasters in the country be put into effect. The motion’s proponent, Gbajabiamila, also noted that a large swath of the country is vulnerable to annual devastating flooding disasters, the severity and scope of which have substantially increased in recent years. This includes both the northern and southern parts of the country, as well as the eastern and western parts.

It also takes consideration of the seasonal climate forecast provided by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, (NiMet), in January of this year, which predicted an early beginning of rains across the country and heavy downpours throughout the season. An early start to the rainy season has materialized, and there’s every reason to believe that the prognosis of heavy rainfall will also come true. According to the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency’s 2023 Annual Flood Outlook, there are 178 LGAs in 32 (thirty-two) States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory that are in locations where flooding is extremely likely to occur.

Action Plan offers structural and non-structural interventions.

Given that the country has not yet fully recovered from the massive flooding that evacuated over two million people and affected over four million in 2022, Nigeria does not appear to be ready to experience another catastrophe of this magnitude. Even during the period, the flooding was responsible for the deaths of 665 people, the destruction of an estimated 944,989 hectares of farmland, and the damage or destruction of an estimated 355,986 homes and farmsteads.

In addition, the 2022 flooding prompted the Nigerian federal government to form a Presidential Committee charged with creating a detailed “Plan of Action for Preventing Flood Disasters in Nigeria.” To effectively control floods in Nigeria, the Action Plan offers structural and non-structural interventions, land and water management systems, and enhanced coordination among partners across the Federal and State Governments. With proper planning and cooperation between the federal and state governments, the former Speaker said, the country can reduce the number of lives lost and the social and economic disruptions caused by these periodic floods.

Nigeria may require a renewed effort and initiatives.

There is also a need for the federal government and state governments to get moving on plans to lessen the damage that would inevitably be caused by the Severe Flood Season and get ready to intervene to minimize the worst socio economic repercussions for Nigerians in the impacted areas, he added. By passing the motion, the House urged the federal government and state governments to keep in touch and work together effectively to mitigate potential disasters in flood-prone areas. With the predicted flood activities, Nigeria may require a renewed effort and initiatives from the government and avoid the 2022 scenario.

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