The Director-General, Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Prof. Sani Mashi, has advised states and local governments in the country to take the agency’s flood warnings seriously.
Mashi in an interview in Abuja, said government at the state and local levels had failed to act quickly to reduce the impact of flooding in their communities by leaving their responsibilities to the Federal Government.
“There is so much expectation on the Federal Government, even though we are operating a federal system where we have three tiers of government. Despite that, the obligation and expectation of the Federal Government is much higher than it can bear.
“We predicted that we were going to receive higher than normal rainfall within certain period and there was going to be flood in different parts of the country.We advised that in communities that are flood-prone, contingency measures should be taken so that, if flood occurs, at least the impact will be minimised,” he explained.
“We encouraged people to move away for a certain period because of the raining season (three or four months at most).Before the rain starts, take certain measures; for instance, ensure that access rights of way of the flooding, in terms of drainages, are not obstructed.
“So the expectation is that the local communities at State and local government levels should be up and doing.
“Probably, they were waiting for the Federal Government, because the level of preparedness was very low like it happened in Niger (state), ” the NiMet DG said
He also said that the map of Niger had shown that many communities were lying along the banks of major rivers and streams which made them vulnerable to flood.
“If you look at the map of Niger, you will discover that Niger is well drained; there are so many streams and very large rivers that have taken up many parts of the state. A number of communities in the state are lying within the reach of the river.
“This means you don’t need anybody to tell you that when you have higher than normal rainfall, Niger will be in problem.Niger should have been up and doing but nothing was done.
“Honestly, the level of our awareness, especially at the local level, has not been very effective and it has not been adequate.’’
The NiMet boss also disclosed that about 25 states had so far keyed into NiMet’s downscaling programme to support agriculture, following result of the Katsina experiment in 2016.
He said Katsina State Government disclosed that the prediction for the state was 100 per cent accurate, adding that the result had encouraged more states and private organisations to indicate interest.
“We have been able to cover up to 25 states now, which means about 75 per cent of them have not been covered.
“The success story of Katsina State was well received by other states; that made other Nigerians to become interested in what we do.
“It means if they come up to NiMet, we downscale to enable them to go to the lower levels of the state so that they can plan adequately.
“This has encouraged a lot of Nigerians and a number of our private partners that are interested in promoting it.
“For instance, the British American Tobacco Foundation; the company is interested in helping farmers so that they can increase their productivity and they discovered that this downscaling is something that can help them.
“So they have been partnering with us and through the support we have been getting from some of our partners, we have been able to reach out to 25 states now,’’ he said.