I was retiring to bed and scrolling through my Twitter timeline and allowing the content of Jim Ovia’s memoir, AFRICA RISE AND SHINE sink in when I heard repeated knocks on the entrance of my door. I would have suspected an armed robbery operation somewhere near but the night was still very young, it was only some minutes past 8pm on the last day of June, 2020. The woman outside was a neighbour who came to inform us that the bridge, the only bridge that connects us to the outside world has been flooded- she came to inform us because we had a car and she thought it would insensitive if we were not there with other members of our neighbourhood. I did not get the memo because I thought that it was practically impossible for that river to get full let alone flooding. I appreciated her, went back inside and took a jalabiya wear to go see the bridge myself. The sight was pathetic, to say the least. The house beside the river was already flooded and the occupants, moving out their valuables. This was the first time I was witnessing a flooding experience, other times, I only read about it.
In a 2012 study after the August 2011 flood in Ibadan, the researchers identified certain causes of flooding in Ibadan. A thorough and critical look on these causes and you will find out that we- citizens, are the architect of our misfortune. The first reason cited by the researchers is the Hydrological Factor, in simpler terms, this may be caused by prolonged rainfall, blockage of culvert and drainage channel to halt the free flow of water and growth of vegetation in the gutters which serves as channel for the easy flow of water. The researchers also stated Waste Management ignorance and practice of inhabitants of a neighbourhood as another major cause of flood because of improper disposal of waste inside channels that is supposed to aid free flow of water. The researchers also cited institutional and awareness factors. They argued that successive government plans in terms of physical planning and development have failed in monitoring the peculiarities of a building site before granting approval.
In 2018, Buhari’s former Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah went to commission a gutter in Akwa Ibom. These are the kinds of leaders that this country has produced except for some exceptional few. As a people who do not have a government that cares for their welfare, Nigerians are too lax to not take adequate responsibility for their wellbeing.
Of all the arguments put forward by the researchers, irresponsibility of the populace is the major cause of these flooding. If people clear their drainages and clear vegetation in their gutters, it will aid the free passage of water. Indiscriminate disposal of waste is also very common among Nigerians, this does not have anything to do with societal class. You see even the middle-class and educated Nigerians throwing waste from the window of their cars into rivers and drainages. Nigerians should inculcate the habit of proper waste disposal as the need to do that is a public safety practice. Few government administrations that have come forward to correct some institutional lapses by demolishing structures built on floodplains have been victimized and voted out of office for that sole reason.
This, however, is not to excuse the failings of government of providing safe waste disposal management system, monitoring structures before giving approval and ensuring strict compliance with laid down physical development plans but since there is a general consensus that the government are not interested in our plight, we must be responsible citizens and ensure that our safety is well-secured in our own hands.
I am not a doomsday prophet but it seems this rain just started. Before you throw that sachet of water on the floor, remember that it could be the reason why some household may be rendered homeless. efore you construct that mosque, church or business center on a floodplain, remember you are exposing your neighbour and your structure to greater harm. As Nigerians, let us lead and allow our leaders to follow – if they so wish.
Yusuf Akinyemi writes from Ibadan. He can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.