The Federal Government has stated that it will take 30 years of consistent investment to control the flood menace in Nigeria, which is estimated to have killed 612 people and displaced over 1.4 million people in recent times. Suleiman Adamu, Minister of Water Resources, stated this on Wednesday while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
This came less than 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari set a 90-day deadline for the ministers of water resources, transportation, and other stakeholders to develop a master plan to combat flooding in the country. Adamu, who absolved the government of any major responsibility in the recent flooding incidents, stated that no one can stop flooding in the country, especially when there is no technology to do so; insisting that the government could only reduce the impact of the flood on Nigerians.
He noted that early warning signs were given to vulnerable Nigerians to leave the area, but many refused. The minister stated during a joint presentation to the FEC by his ministry and that of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development that, despite the early warning system in place, a lot of capital-intensive initiatives must be undertaken in the future to avert the consequences of flood disasters.
“There is no technology on earth, none that can tell you the extent of the floods, none what soever. You work on the basis of data that you have before. Now that the rains have come; that is what hydrology is all about. This is a record and now; we’re resetting the clock. So our future plans will now consider this. This is a historical catastrophic level that we will not account for; that is what engineering does. This has never happened before,” he said.
Suleiman went on to say that distilling a river as a precaution would cost the government billions of cubic meters of earth, soil, or sand. To begin, he asked, “Where do you deposit it?! And I can tell you that the country’s economy at this point in time, cannot support that kind of thing. There are, however, nature based solutions. One of the most important things we can do is plant trees, and catchment management will help to alleviate the problem.
“There are rivers that we were able to descend right now as I’m talking to you farther down eastern parts of the Jigawa State into Yobe State. We have been opening river channels on River Hadeja all the way down to Kamadugu Yobe linking into Chad. That is possible for some rivers. For a river like River Niger, you need much more than that, you need what we call river training. That is not only an expensive venture, but it’s also a long term venture. And what we’re trying to do at this point in time under this administration is to prepare; at least initiate the preparation of that master plan.”