Re: Nigeria’s perennial flood: Happening of preventable disaster

As expected, this article on perennial flood attracted reactions from many readers of this column, my Facebook and Tweeter handles. Many were unhappy, if not furious of why our nation has been given lip service to a preventable but calamitous incident occurring annually. The nation is endowed with experts, technocrats, and wherewithal to prevent or mitigate the effects of this type of disaster. If Netherlands, a small European nation, was able to reclaim part of the ocean by pushing the water back into ocean, and still avoided serious flood incidences, why not Nigeria? In fact, the French call Netherlands “pay-bas,” meaning a country below sea-level. So, Nigeria’s case of having several rivers crisscrossing it can be turned to blessing rather than a curse, if only the leaders put on a thinking and innovative cap devoid of selfishness, nepotism and aggrandizement. Today, I am presenting a reaction of an ardent reader of this column, Alhaji Hassan Ahmadu who provided a wider perspective to the problem and its possible solution. Next week, I will present few other reactions as contribution of this column towards addressing the problem. Happy reading

Thanking you sir for bringing this very burning issue to the forefront and giving it the publicity and exposure, it deserves. The audience and the reach is extremely important in sensitizing both the people and the government as to their responsibilities in keeping our world safe and habitable.

The trouble with NIGERIA to borrow the words of CHINUA Achebe is lack of good leadership in all spheres of endeavor and what this boils down to is that in all spheres of life we lack the ability to plan and predict and anticipate the future and arrange contingencies to countermand or ameliorate future events which were projected and planned for before hand. What Nigeria leaders are expert at is reacting to events after the fact and providing makeshift and temporary solutions to the given problems just long enough to pass it on to others. There is no proactive, conscious planning of developmental activities as was done in the past in which government use to produce National Development plans which cover a long term not short term or intermediate term periods . This allows for coordination of planning activities across the broad spectrum of economic and development activities including taking care of environment planning over periods of 5 to 10 years . I especially mentioned long term development plan of at least 5 years because it is only perspective developed over such a period that is capable of bringing back development in a systematic and organized fashion not the disjointed, disorganized manner that is the order of the day .

In the olden days, droughts were very frequent but were cyclical in nature occurring over specified periods of time. This problem of re-occurring droughts was solved by meticulous planning through the providing of drought resistant crops, construction of Dams, the establishments of River Basin Development Authorities, provision of extension services , afforestation and re- afforestation etc. ( see Perspective on Drought and Famine in Nigeria by G. Jan Van Apeldoorn) This way the problem of perennial and reoccurring drought was solved .

In the same way, the problem of floods anticipated annually but which all the same always overwhelm both the farmers and the authorities every year must be planned for taking a long-time perspective. Some of the measures to be adopted to ameliorate these problems could be:
First of all to harmonize the activities of the Inland Waterways Agencies which is solely concerned with water transportation in the inter land only with the activities of the River Basin Development Authorities which are concerned with the harnessing of inter land rivers for agricultural purpose round the year only.This harmonization will create a symbiotic relationship between the two agencies as the activities of farmers and other unregulated human activities along the River banks is responsible for the silting of the Rivers in Nigeria which is partly responsible for the floods .

Secondly, another agency independent of these two may be established which should be exclusive charged with the organic and physical maintenance of these rivers and the creations of artificial inland drainage channels to evacuate excess waters from flood prone areas to bigger rivers or copper dams meant specifically for that purpose. This same agency could be charged with the responsibility of desilting and dredging of the rivers and riverside in the hinterland. It should also be responsible for the prevention of human encroachment on natural storm drains, gullies and tributary rivers which have all been turned into farmlands (Fadama or mash lands) and human settlements. An example is the Kubanni River in Zaria which has been reduced to a shadow of its former self because of the building of a dam and the construction of settlements in it right of way and farming activities.
This new agencies could be responsible for the creation of major artificial Canals to aid both in transportation inland but to act as a means of expelling excess rain waters to the major rivers for evacuation to the Atlantic oceans or in land lakes, inland water reservoirs and inland water drainage and intake systems. It should be noted in recent years, areas like Tiga were flooded when dams over flooded their banks or broke their embarkation leading to massive flooding.

If the Egyptians could create such canal like the Suez Canal, others create the Panama Canal, Kiel Canal , Danube – Black Sea canal , Corinth Canal or the Chinese could create the Three Gorges Dam or the Russians create the Volga, Nigeria shall be able to produce miniature projects all across the country to assist with the prevention of flooding.

There is also a need to organize the control of this seasonal floods from rivers by coordinating control activities across international borders since rivers like the Kamodugu – Yobe and even the mighty River Niger itself has its source origins in another country and traverse other countries before their final destination in the literal coast land of Nigeria into the Atlantic Ocean. Thus, efforts in order for them to be sustained and beneficial, have to have all countries on board so that problems of flooding are not only transferred from one country to the other but done in such a way that the solution does not cause adversity to other countries.

Alhaji Hassan Ahmadu