he FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Friday in Abuja warned Abuja residents against ignoring early flood warnings from the weather forecast agencies.
The Director-General of FEMA, Alhaji Abba Idriss, issued the warning at the 2022 FEMA Annual Review and Preparedness Meeting with over 250 Local Divers, Community Vanguards, Flood Rescue Teams and 50 Town Criers.
He said that the meeting was coming at a time when flood warnings from the weather forecast agencies, especially Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) and the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), are issuing serious flood alerts almost on a daily basis.
Idriss said the rising water levels in the nation’s major rivers in the country – especially River Niger and River Benue – couple with the threats coming from the Lagdo dam in Cameroon are issues of great concern.
Idriss emphasised the need for residents to abide and obey the early warning and would be issued out to them from time to time through the conventional and social media.
According to him, as soon as the agency get flood early warning it will disseminate the information so that people will take advantage of that.
He therefore urged residents to ensure that they get information about the way they will pass through before leaving their homes, offices and markets.
“The reason why we call for this meeting is first to alert our local divers, volunteers, vanguards and town criers on the likelihood of flooding.
“Secondly, is to call on the residents of the Federal Capital Territory to be on their alert as well that all is not well yet. We have to be watchful, we have to keep observing those environmental laws and we also have to abide by the building code.
“FCT residents must also ensure that they don’t block drainages, avoid building on the waterways and also avoid driving on a running water. People shouldn’t undermine water they see on the road to think that they have high capacity vehicle that move on running water.”
Earlier, Mrs Florence Wenegieme, the Director, Forecasting Response Mitigation of FEMA, explained that the event was organised to review with stakeholders especially the local divers, volunteers, vanguards, local emergency committee and town criers.
Wenegieme expressed optimism that the meeting would help the agency to save lives and properties in the nation’s capital.
“We call them three or four times annually to review all the activities; to reactivate them, to know that they should always be on standby because we want all hands to be on deck to mitigate flood and other disasters in the territory.
“We have almost 600 volunteers, local divers, town criers. We are doing the meeting by representation, we call over 200 today and next meeting we will call another set of 200 persons again to make sure that we create the needed awareness in them.
“We are training them on how to use use modern rescue equipment when somebody get drown in the river or in the wall,” she said.
Also, the Director-General, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), Mr Clement Nze, reiterated the resolve of the agency to deepen partnership with FEMA in coordinating issues around water and flooding.
“I will say that we are aware of most of the activities of State Emergency Management Agency and out of all of them FEMA is on top in terms of being relevant on community development
“We are delighted to associate ourselves with FEMA based on what we see on ground being done by the DG.
“I want to urge the divers and vanguards, local emergency committee, town criers and flood rescue team to see their role as very important in tackling flood in FCT.”
Similarly, the Director-General, NiMet, Prof. Mansur Matazu, also expressed willingness of the agency to deepen partnership with FEMA, adding that the agency has been very cooperative in emergency management.
Represented by Mr Kamorudeen Alao, the Assistant General Manager, Hydro, Matazu said the partnership which was beyond the issue of downscaling would continue to grow stronger.
On his part, the Director-General, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr Mustapha Ahmed, said the meeting was very critical to mitigating flood and other disasters in the FCT.
Represented by Mr Agbor Etim, NEMA’s Principal Search and Rescue Officer, Ahmed said disaster management was all encompassing, adding that everybody need to be on board to help ensure effective disaster management.