Researchers have shown that the total area of Nigeria is 983,213 square kilometres out of which 773,783 square kilometres are in Savannah zones In the forest zones however, we have 133,717.
The demographers have put Nigeria’s population at 120 million, giving us an average density of more than 120 persons per square kilometers. The implication of this is that Nigeria is already getting over populated or experiencing a very high population density even though it varies from one zone to the other.
In many parts of the country, people have witnessed with bewilderment that owing to flood and erosion, some brooks which were crossed with ease some years ago are now so large as to expose the foundation of their buildings (houses) and causing gorges in their environments.
Erosion is one of the most critical and deadly environmental problems affecting different parts of the country. It is prevalent and severe in the sandy areas of the nation. Serious erosion features are sighted in the states such as Anambra, Edo, Imo and Enugu. In Anambra state, it affects more than 70% of the state’s land in form of sheet and gully erosions. Over 580 gullies have been located or mapped in Anambra state alone with severe loss and huge threat to agricultural products.
In the North, we have the flood destroying almost every farm especially in Kano , Jigawa ,Bauch,Bornu ,Kaduna and other parts of the Northern states of the Federation. Most of the agricultural products which mainly come from the northern states such as yams, millet, and a host of other farm products are being adversely affected by flood and erosions. This is an invitation to hunger and starvation when such products are becoming scarce in the markets; and if available, become too expensive for the common man to buy.
Many houses have been washed off by gully erosion in the North, West and South of the country. Many people are homeless because of this perennial disaster emanating from heavy and constant rainfall and if drastic action is not applied might spell more devastating disaster in future. In Lagos for example, especially in Lagos Island, those who built their houses along the coastal areas or erected make shift houses there, have experienced such houses swept away by the costal surge before dawn. Neighbours woke up to have found out that those houses were no longer there. They have been swept away by the flood including the occupants overnight. What a great loss to human lives!!!
It is no longer breaking news that successive governments have been voting huge funds for flood victims. They call it ecological funds. What is required is for those handling the funds to be sincere in using the funds for same purpose and not divert it elsewhere. People in these areas pay their taxes, no matter how little it may be, so, they must be taken care of as a reciprocal. It is also not enough to debate or make proposition on the issue of flooding on the floor of the National or states Houses of Assembly but to be proactive in handling the matter as a big priority-a task that must be done.
Houses built on water ways must be re-channeled and drainages constructed where non existing. This is mostly vital in places like Lagos where most of the high brow areas like Lekki axis, Dolphin estate and other parts of the city walk and drive during the raining season inside pool of river. Cue must be taken from the ex-governor of Osun state, Aregbesola ,who has put a stop to the yearly flooding along old Rasco cinema by the construction of a modern bridge and demolishing of the houses built on water channel. Many other state governors did the same which is highly commendable
Another point to note as a panacea to prevent flooding is that the land owners should always work in tandem with the Local Planning Authority before they start the construction of their houses. This will save the land owners the headache of their houses demolished after construction if they have obstructed the water ways; prevention, people say is better than cure. In the same way, the Local Planning Authority should also respond to the call of these land owners and not sit in their offices for approval of building plans without getting to the sites. The Local Planning Authority after the initial inspection must also do a follow up exercise. This will help to minimize cases of flood disaster and building collapsing at random on completion which is now the order of the day. Blocked waterways/drainages must be widely opened for easy flow of water because water will always find its way if the channel is blocked.
Lastly, but not exhausted the Ministry of National Orientation Agency(NOA) and its equivalent in states of the federation should make constant enlightenment campaigns to sensitize people on why they should avoid building on waterways and the importance of drainage system. Also, they should enlighten the people on proper disposal of refuse in their environments. The Ministry of the Environment and Health should put heads together and go round all the nooks and crannies of the country for inspection –like the’’ WOLEWOLE’’(sanity inspectors) of the famous first republic and apply appropriate sanctions to the erring ones without fear or favour.
By Idowu Tunde