World Bulletin / News Desk
Nigerians are in panic as heavy flooding continues to ravage various parts of the country after several days of heavy rainfall, leaving hundreds of homes submerged and scores of people missing in central Nigeria's Plateau State.
"Five local government areas of Plateau recorded heavy flooding over the weekend through Tuesday," Alhassan Barde, executive secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency, told Anadolu Agency by phone.
"Over 300 homes are submerged, uncountable livestock lost and many people still missing," he added.
Barde said the government was working with different agencies to ascertain the extent of the losses, both human and material.
"For now, relief materials are gradually being deployed to the local governments," he said.
Barde urged the public to heed previous warnings issued by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the National Meteorological Agency.
There were numerous reports of missing persons and dead livestock in the Kanam local government area, where farmlands were reportedly washed away by heavy flooding.
Parts of Kaduna State, in Nigeria's northwest, were also devastated by heavy rains on Wednesday evening, killing scores of people and destroying property, according to government officials who said efforts to come up with exact casualty figures were still underway.
The Northwest Katsina State has also alerted residents of five local governments to brace for heavy rainfall between now and September 19. The announcement, made by the State Information Ministry, urged those on river banks to relocate.
Down south in Lagos, there was heavy flooding Tuesday morning following a three-hour downpour, according to eyewitness accounts. At least two deaths were reported.
"The flooding washed away a man on a motorcycle and the passenger he carried," Adeneye David, an eyewitness, told AA.
David blamed the flooding – and the havoc it has wrought – on inadequate or blocked waterways.
NEMA had earlier warned of "unprecedented flooding" that would dwarf that seen in 2012 across 24 states, including Lagos, Nigeria's economic nerve center situated largely below sea level.
No fewer than 400 people were killed and an estimated 1.2 million displaced in nationwide flooding that began in July 2012 and lasted through September of last year.
Titus Mann, a resident of Zik Avenue in the heart of Jos, one of the more affected local governments, said victims had been counting their losses since the downpour.
The flooding had been so extensive, he said, that the waterways could not contain it.
"As a consequence, several businesses were destroyed and numerous houses submerged in the flood," he told AA.
"People had to leave their homes and seek shelter elsewhere," added Mann, a former president of Nigeria's Civil Liberties Organization.
Nnamdi Okoli, a businessman with three shops on Zik Avenue, said he had lost virtually everything to the flooding.
"We are begging the government to help us re-launch our businesses," he told AA. "The goods in the shops destroyed by the flood were worth N20m [roughly $125,000]. Where do I start from?"
There were similar claims, including those of missing persons, in other local government areas, where millions of naira worth of livestock were reportedly lost.
"We are still looking for some of our people who went missing in the aftermath of the flooding," John Jang, a native of Shendam local government, told AA by phone.
Experts lament the lack of preparation for the recent flooding, which they link to climate change.
Izoma Philip Asiodu, president of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), said most African nations, including Nigeria, had failed to heed warnings about climate change.
"All the warnings by authorities and agencies about climate change were ignored," he told AA. "But today, climate change has become a reality; it's staring us in the face."
Asiodu said the government should use its ecological fund – a special budgetary provision for environmental issues – to build infrastructure and maintain an environment capable of withstanding severe weather change.
"Let the ecological fund be used to mitigate the effect of climate change in the country," said the NCF president. "If we embark on tree planting, we will bring back all deforested lands in the country."
"We will have enough food to eat and our forests will offset the impact of climate change on Nigerians," added Asiodu. "If we work at it, we can have an environment that resists the impact of heavy flooding."Last Mod: 12 Eylül 2013, 18:02