Director-General of Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, NIHSA, Engr. Clement Onyeaso Nze has lamented that State Governors in Nigeria find it difficult to take action on flood disaster predictions by the agency.
Speaking with journalists to begin a “Regional Training Workshop on Flood Database Management”, in Abuja on Tuesday, he lamented that flood related casualties across the country would have been averted if alerts on flood sent to various State Governors were not taken for granted.
Nze said that the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency and the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet) have upstream mandates of forecasting, but the implementation lies with governors who have what it takes to work with data made available to them.
“Flood has become an issue all over the world. Earlier in the year, we have begun to experience flood disasters across the country and when there is proper prediction or forecasting, using ground data or the one observed from the satellite, it enhances early prediction for the protection of people and communities who are at risk of flood disasters.
“There are levels of mandates and responsibilities. Ours as a forecasting agency, and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency are in the upstream areas. We are like seers; we are like prophets who see ahead of time.
“Like in January this year, Nigeria Meteorological Agency told Nigerians how the rainfall pattern would occur, and we took it up from there to talk about flooding and inform the Honourable Minister of Water Resources who wrote to governors of all the 36 States in Nigeria, including the FCT.
“We made it available to all the governors the likely level of flood that will occur in each state and that is what we have done. They are now supposed to take steps based on the information.
“For example, those of you living in Abuja, you recall how some houses were demolished at Giri Junction, so many lives were lost in Suleja, Gwagwalada as a result of flood disaster and so on and you see these are avoidable, if the government had taken precaution.
“Governors have town planners and certain authorities to implement what we tell them, because ours is to advise them.
“So, the States who have town planning authorities should have the will to pull down buildings that block drainage in their states like the former Minister of FCT, Malam Nasir El-Rufai did in 2002, 2003 when a 2-storey building housing a hospital had to be demolished for blocking drainage.
“States have Commissioners for Environment and Water Resources and so they should move into action with information provided for them on flood prediction in their States.
“They should move to Local Government Areas which have been predicted that flood will occur because it’s their duty.
“We talk about the use of earth observation data in the issues of flood forecasting; flood management. So much is being done in visiting locations and taking measurements by us as an agency, that is, by the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA).
“The workshop today talks about how earth observation becomes relevant in places that you cannot visit physically, which you will now use space data applications to augment or surpass what you can do manually.
“The workshop today is trying to domesticate the earth observation data, to do modelling of flood events and how to protect the people living in riverine areas or flood prone areas,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Engr. Ganiyu Agbaje of the African Regional Centre for Space Science Technology Education, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife has revealed that the use of Satellite imagery in earth observation has been adopted by West African countries.
According to him, earth observation through satellite technology has been in use in most parts of the world, while Africa was still using manual earth observation.
“In earth observation, adding satellite imagery will improve the efficiency of prediction. The training is not restricted to prediction, but to have additional data to do prediction using a particular technology which has been in use in other times.
“Development is going on all over the world and because of global monitoring of environment and security which for Africa was an initiative brought about by heads of States of African countries culminating in European Union (EU) and African Union (AU) having agreement that why don’t you use the data from earth observation to support this,” he added.