The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency NHISA has warned States, Local Governments and other stakeholders to begin early preparations for this year’s rainy season to forestall the devastating effects of flooding experienced in many parts of the country last year.

Recall that many communities in the country were affected by flooding last year, which had negative social and economic impacts on the affected communities.

This warning is coming on the heels of recent prediction by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency NIMET that the country may experience longer period of rainy season in 2020 compared to the previous years.

Director General of NIHSA, Clement Eze, who gave the warning in Abuja, Tuesday during the maiden press briefing, told journalists that the floods that wreaked havoc in parts of the country would have avoided if preemptive steps were taken to mitigate their impact.

 “We are here to use this medium to inform Nigerians, stakeholders, the state governments in particular and individuals that this is the right time you can prepare for flooding.

“The state government and local government areas should avoid what we call generally the ‘Fire Brigade Approach’ when the rain is already here.

“So various governments in Nigeria should begin to prepare for possible flooding in 2020, open up the drainages, or create drainage paths where there are none.

“Remove the structures that are within the flood plains, and let there be adequate drainage paths,” he said.

The DG alluded to the January 21, 2020 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction SRP, released by the NIMET, which warned relevant stakeholders in Nigeria including state and local governments that the rains will start early and cease late.

He said: “In their prediction, they said the onset of the rainy season in the southern part of Nigeria will be starting from February 24, and in the North, like Sokoto and Katsina, the earliest will be June 22.

“And then for the rainfall to begin to cease, because it starts ceasing from the North, according to their prediction, from September 26, it will start ceasing from the North downwards to the south, by December 28.

“This year, the rainfall, from their prediction, will start early and end within the normal time, it means we are going to have a longer period of rainfall if the prediction goes through or things go on as predicted, there will be a longer spell of rainfall but we are monitoring it.”

The DG noted that so many factors enhance flooding, the rainfall being the major input and other factors being the geology and topography of an area.

According to him, flooding can also occur even when the rainy season in Nigeria has stopped.

He also said that sometimes there can be flooding in Nigeria when the rains have stopped, citing last year when the rains had ceased in Nigeria in early November while Cameroon opened the Laos Dam on October 10, which caused serious flooding in parts of Nigeria.

“I kept calling the Cameroon authorities, asking did you release water, they said no, meanwhile their Laos Dam was open from October 10 to October 31, complete three weeks.

“Adamawa was submerged, a greater part of it, Taraba, Benue and eventually Kogi State, in the dry spell in Nigeria, when rainfall has ceased, so when they open their dam and there is no rainfall in their own territory, flooding will occur.”

NHISA is responsible for monitoring all the major rivers in Nigeria, including the trans boundary Rivers Niger and Benue.

Its mandate, among others, is the provision of information and services required for efficient and sustainable management of the nation’s vast surface and groundwater resources including the security of life, property and water-related hazards such as floods and droughts.