Igali: Why Nigeria has witnessed more floods

Mazino Dickson

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A lack of river training, blockage of water ways, obsolete adaptation strategies and climate change have been identified as reasons for the rising cases of flood in Nigeria.

Ambassador Godknows Igali, former permanent secretary in the ministry of water resources, said this in Abuja.

The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) had this earlier this month warned that there would be more floods due to very high rainfall – which would intensity over a long duration.

Igali said that due to climate change, weather patterns have been disrupted, leading to massive rainfall with attendant consequences.

The hydrological  services usually monitors flood from the upper Niger starting from Senegal, Guinea, Mali, and Niger republic. Flooding starts from those countries. So this year flooding is likely to be very heavy. You can see how heavily flooded the FCT has been this year,” he noted.

Water has its natural passage that is thousands of years old. That stream that is dry now, come back in a decade’s time you will see that waterbed is full. Sometimes it can stay dry for 20 years, but one day it will surely come back. People have blocked channels by building over them. Historical studies of 1913 from the hydrological services show Nigerians have blocked water channels by building indiscriminately,” Igali stated.

Bayelsa scenario

Bayelsa was one of the worst hit states by flood in 2012 and 2018 – with thousands of residents rendered homeless and massive destruction of public infrastructure.

A resident of Sagbama LGA accessing his home on a wooden canoe due to heavy floods in 2018. Photo by Daily Trust

According to the Nigerian Meteorological Services Agency (NiMET), Bayelsa is one of the states expected to be once again impacted by flood this year.

Igali, who is one of the aspirants contesting the governorship elections in Bayelsa later this year, said because of the low topography of the state located in the Delta, he would initiate a new approach to address the unusually high rainfall and consequent flooding.

The former Ambassador to Northern Europe said all structures built along waterways should be removed.

Traditionally Bayelsans have adapted to normal floods. But this one, especially the flood of 2012 that was 12 meters higher than the normal level requires a different adaptation approach. I will focus on flood warning as well as disaster risk warning.

We have to create access for water to pass into the rivers and ocean. For the rivers we will do what is called rivers training. Bayelsa is the gateway to the Atlantic Ocean. Areas where there are sand bags we will remove them,” he said.

From the point of entering the ocean we have to remove sand that blocks the ocean so water can flow better. This is what other nations do; we have never done river training in Nigeria,” Igali added.