In its preparation to manage the imminent flood disaster in Nigeria, the federal government said it has deployed experts from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), and the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) to all 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to cascade early warning messages to all the relevant end users at risk of flood disaster and associated hazards.
NIMET and NIHSA, had in their 2023 Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) and Annual Flood Outlook (AFO), indicated an early onset of rainfall and a high probability of flooding across the country during the year.
The Director General of NEMA, Alhaji Mustapha Ahmed, while presenting a keynote address at the flag-off of early warning measures to the grassroots held in Akwa Ibom State Government House, Uyo, on Wednesday, disclosed the deployment of experts.
The early deployment, according to him, was to enable those concerned to make appropriate plans that can save lives, livelihoods, critical national assets, and the natural ecosystem.
Ahmed expressed confidence that the initiative would enable all actors to take risk-informed decisions against future flood occurrences, support disaster risk management, and engender sustainable socio-economic growth in Nigeria.
The DG, who disclosed that the agency had written to all the state governors to draw their attention to imminent floods and associated secondary hazards during the rainy season to avoid a repeat of the 2022 flood disaster, commended Akwa Ibom State for its collaboration with the agency.
He added: “In 2022, Nigeria experienced the worst devastating flood in our national history, with more than four million people affected, over 2 million displaced, and a record death of 665 Nigerians. The flood also caused damage and destruction to about 355,986 houses and 944,989 hectares of farmland.”
On his part, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Umo Eno, who flagged off the early warning measures in the state, promised to sustain the good working relationship with NEMA already started by the previous administration of the state.
“Previous administrations have established good working relationships with NEMA; we will continue to build on that to prevent any future flood disaster in our state,” Eno said.
In her welcome address, Deputy Governor Akon Eyakenyi said: “We can’t wish disaster away, but proactive steps taken can mitigate the effects of the disaster in our state.
“If this meeting engenders the envisaged action, we will not have reasons to fear. We appreciate NEMA for its various interventions in the state, especially the ongoing Special National Economic Livelihood Emergency Interventions, which offer succour to victims of the last fuel disaster in the state that happened in 2022.
“Akwa Ibom State has experienced its fair share of natural disasters, and we cannot afford to be caught off-guard in future occurrences in this regard. There is an urgent need for capacity building of stakeholders in disaster management in the state and local government areas.”