FEATURE ARTICLE

Monday, January 9, 2023
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STILL ON THE RECENT FLOODING IN NIGERIA - A NEEDED PROACTIVE MEASURE

t is no longer news that around thirteen (13) states in Nigeria got flooded recently. While some blamed it on "acts of God/force majeure," some blamed it on climate changes and also on the excessive release of water from a dam in Cameroon called the Lagdo dam when it was full and over it capacity. Lagdo Reservoir, a lake which covers an area of around 586 km2 is located in the Northern Province of Cameroon.

The recent flooding in Nigeria really wreaked havocs like many others that had come before it. For an example, as the ravaging flood wreaked havoc in communities in Bayelsa state, Otuoke, which is the hometown of Nigeria's former President, Goodluck Jonathan, and the host community of a Federal University, was submerged, including the property of Goodluck Jonathan with most of the locals displaced. States like Kogi, Narasawa, Anambra, Benue, to mention but a few, were not spared.

In the process, several IDP camps emerged in these 13 states in Nigeria with few aids from here and there coming in perfunctorily, for lack of a better word. To be honest, these are all reactive measures rather than proactiveness. I feel that we should be more proactive in Nigeria about this issue of flooding! A bag of pure water at IDP Camp in Bayelsa, for an example cost as much as N800. I used to believe that we have a National Emergency Management Agency in Nigeria, but I guess I am wrong. I even heard our Federal Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola say on the TVs that people would not move to the highlands when they asked them to move! The million dollars question is: Move to where? Where are the befitting shelters being provided? Many of those IDP camps are nothing to write home about, if you ask me. You are "on your own" is the expression of the day even if you wanted to move away from the areas susceptible to flooding!

As a brief history, Lagdo dam mentioned above was constructed in 1982 following an agreement reached by Nigerian and Cameroonian governments in 1980. As part of the agreement in 1980, Nigerian government was also supposed to embark on a similar venture by building another shock-absorber and multi-purpose Dam named "Dasin Hausa Dam" at the Nigeria side of the Benue River, ostensibly, among other purposes, to curb flooding and resultant destruction of property and loss of lives downstream whenever water is released or discharged from upstream Lagdo Dam in Cameroon. Above and beyond cushioning the flooding effects of the Lagdo Dam on the downstream areas of Nigeria, the multi-purpose Dasin Hausa Dam facility was supposed to generate around 300 mega-watts of electricity. Moreover, its purpose was also to irrigate some 150,000 hectares of land while in the process providing crop tonnage of 790,000 tons in Adamawa, Taraba and Benue states. In addition, it was to provide employment opportunities for 40,000 families, and make available navigational route of the Benue River to the Niger Delta, Nigeria. The "Dasin Hausa Dam" project site is located in the Dasin Village, Fufore Local Government Area, Adamawa State.

Even though the Nigerian government started the "Dasin Hausa Dam" project design in 1981, however, the said dam project is never completed even over 40 years after. Nonetheless, the incessant flooding continues to wreck havoc in Nigeria (as areas located downstream within the River Benue drainage basin and beyond are often flooded whenever water is discharged from the Lagdo reservoir/dam), and without anything having been done proactively to prevent or mitigate it by the Nigeria government.

Before I proceed further on this article, I will also like to say this. The word 'prodigality' has ever been associated with being wasteful with money and resources. In addition, the saying "save for the rainy days" is a well-known one. Oil boom or none, Nigeria has never formed the habit of saving very well for the future. We use all of our ten fingers to eat at the same time. Easy come, easy go is the right phrase to describe our case in Nigeria. To say that Nigeria is full of wastage is to say the least!

Furthermore, the word "proactiveness" is well familiar and an important action word for a forward thinking nation. I am not sure we know the importance of acting on this word, called "proactiveness."

I will say it as I said earlier, Nigeria is full of wastage! We had seen the effects of the flood from River Niger and its Benue counterpart on nearly 13 states in Nigeria if not more. Like our crude oil that is being siphoned by the "unknowns" we are wasting our freshwater because we are not very proactive." Na so so" reactions galore!

Why couldn't those affected states individually (within their domains) build or be allowed to build two or more embankments or earth dams adjacent to River Niger, and Benue too? Imagine having 25 to 50 large artificial multi-purpose lakes scattered nearby or around the paths of those two rivers in question or within or around those affected states in Nigeria with those internal dams linked by water channels. And they do not have to be built too expensively. Just use our local Engineers and contractors who know what they are doing.

Those potential earth dams (large lakes) equipped with not too sophisticated controlled sluice gates could serve the purpose of storing water during heavy storms or rainy seasons. With various water intake structures/locations dotted or built/sited around those individual artificial lakes (embankment or earth dams) farmers could be allowed to use the water for irrigation purposes especially during dry seasons. Flood controls, Recreations, drinking and industrial water supply, fish farming, etc. are other uses that readily come to mind now.

We have been hearing of rivers drying up lately because of climate change. We have heard of low level Mississippi River that is now no longer navigable by ships thereby impacting the supply chain and food distributions in America. If we can do what was suggested above in Nigeria, from such potential water reservoirs (artificial lakes) we can also replenish River Niger and Benue River when their water levels are low.

We do not have large lakes in Nigeria when compared to some countries in the world where a single lake could be several thousand square kilometers in areas. Even if we could not have in Nigeria larger lakes in the magnitude of those mentioned, we can actually create something sizably beneficial (artificial or man-made lakes) from this annual water waste or excessive water being released or discharged from Lagdo dam.

In Nigeria of today, we are not doing well in the areas of agriculture, as we should. People think they are now wise. People have grown wings. They have found a better and faster way of making money - politics of course! It is sad to note that a nation that has its root and origins in agrarian economy has forgotten the application of the basic principles of sowing. I cannot help mentioning this, my Province in Canada is one of the world best producers of Wheat if not the best; yet they have only about 3.5 to 4.5 months to do all the cropping (planting) including harvesting in a given year. This is because crops can only grow in my Province between a latter part of Spring to just before Fall season surfaces. With such a natural and huge constraint, the Province still manages to be the best producer of Wheat.

How does this Province do it? The answer is simple…..commitment to be the best, and this involves proper planning among others. Nigeria is blessed by God to the extent that many crops can be grown throughout the year if a proper irrigation system is put in place.

River Niger and its Benue counterparts continue to flow ceaselessly to the ocean like coals that are being carried to Newcastle. Yet no other good use in form of irrigation is put in place to increase our agricultural produce. It is only in Nigeria that a big Dam like Kanji is under utilised. After the water is used to rotate the Turbine at Kanji, where does the water go? Of what use is the downstream water? Are my people in Nigeria not aware of the Riparian law?

Has Nigerian government not heard of "multi-purpose" Dam? Ditto, our State governments?

Are my people not aware of mechanised farming?

Can we now say Nigeria is not blessed by God?

Heaven helps those who help themselves, they say. They keep on complaining, crying, and looking for assistance! I see no reason why those states in Nigeria that those Rivers pass through could not have two or more earth or embankment dams (artificial lakes) built nearby. Greater benefits are accruable by so doing.

Meanwhile, Lagos state et al should also be looking inwardly on what to do about and with those little rivers in their domains. A little can sometimes become a lot!

We are wasting our freshwater just the same way we waste our oil funds. Let us practice some conservation for once! It is a good thing to do. It is well!

Some people have also suggested that the silting of the river Niger and its Benue counterpart is the issue and that desilting is overdue. Desilting of the those rivers has always been in the news and being budgeted for but no actual desilting or dredging has taken place. Some parts of these two rivers indeed need dredging as many sand bars are ubiquitous, as evidences of how shallow certain parts of these rivers have become.

I still remembered in 2007 when the idea of dredging the River Niger was all over the news. Indeed, those Rivers are too shallow and dredging them would increase their capacity and the volume of water.

Recently, out of curiosity an uncle of mine was even asking me "what does dredging of River Niger or Benue mean?" To those who do not know, to dredge a river means to remove unwanted things from the bottom of a river using a sucking or other device. Hydraulically speaking, sometimes it may mean scouring or removing sediments (soil particles) from the bottom of the river channel to enhance navigation and to increase flow. Nigeria government should try and do something about the desilting and dredging of those Rivers and their estuaries as this will be a welcome development.

Since the discharge of excess water from Cameroon cannot be stopped, construction of the Dasin Hausa Dam and many other dams suggested above are doable if the will is there. Greater benefits are accruable by so doing!

An equally expensive alternative is to build spurs and dykes or Levees.

Either way, something must be done solution-wise to or about this perennial flooding through a combo of solutions if finance would not be a snag or a big hurdle. However, it should not, if we set our priorities right. It is well! May God give us understanding!

I will end this article by leaving you with the following quotable quotes:

"How soon 'not now' becomes 'never.'" ~ Martin Luther

"If you choose to not deal with an issue, then you give up your right of control over the issue and it will select the path of least resistance." ~ Susan Del Gatto

"Procrastination usually results in sorrowful regret. Today's duties put off until tomorrow give us a double burden to bear; the best way is to do them in their proper time." ~ Ida Scott Taylor

"In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." ~ Theodore Roosevelt

"Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work." ~ Stephen King

"A year from now you may wish you had started today." ~ Karen Lamb

"If you don't pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves." ~ David Allen

"Procrastination is the thief of time: Year after year it steals, till all are fled, and to the mercies of a moment leaves the vast concerns of an eternal scene." ~ Edward Young

"Much of the stress that people feel doesn't come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they started." ~ David Allen

"To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing." ~ Eva Young

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