It is a great pleasure for me and members of my team to visit Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, “Land of Fulfilment” on this very important occasion of flagging off of the downscaling of disaster early warning measures to grassroots for effective live-saving early actions during the 2023 rainy season. Let me use this opportunity to congratulate His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Akwa lbom for his resounding victory in the recent general elections and his subsequent taking of oath as Executive Governor of the State. Your Excellency, | pray that God almighty will guide you in the daunting task.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, you may recall that, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) have released their 2023 Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) and Annual Flood Outlook (AFO), respectively early in the year. The two vital documents contained meteorological forecasts indicating early onset of rainfall and high probability of flooding across the country during the year. It is on this premise that NEMA drawing from its mandate of disaster risk management decided to take the initiative of partnering with NIHSA and NiMet to downscale early warning alerts to States, Local Government Authorities and communities at risk of flood disaster and associated hazards. This will enable them make appropriate plans that can save lives, livelihoods, critical national assets and the natural ecosystem which is the bedrock for sustainable development.
As we are aware, Nigeria like other nations of the world is faced with a growing rate of occurrence and growing intensity of both human and nature induced disasters. Most of the nature induced disasters are hydro-meteorological in nature powered by climate change and climate variability. Flood disaster in Nigeria has become predictable and yet annually recurring with substantial human and material costs. In line with NEMA paradigm shift towards disaster risk reduction and to take disaster risk management to the grassroots, we have decided to support sub national level actors including States, Local Governments and communities to take ownership of their responsibility of disaster preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery. We can only achieve this through the deployment of scientific information in form of impact based predictions that constitute the foundation of early warning advisories and disaster risk mapping to be delivered to end users in disaster management and development planning.
Earlier as part of our disaster risk communication we have written letters to all State Governors and responsible partners drawing their attention on imminent floods and associated secondary hazards during the rainy season to avoid a repeat of what we experienced last year. In 2022, Nigeria experienced the most devastating flood in our national history with more than 4 million people affected, over 2 million persons displaced and a record death of 665 Nigerians. The flood also caused damage and destruction to about 355,986 houses and 944,989 hectares of farmlands.
As we have always emphasized, there are different categories of disasters. Certain disasters can be avoidable, others can be transferable or adaptable. Yet, we can only achieve this by deploying credible information, developing the right plans and getting people at the grassroots take the right decision and provide timely response when disasters hit. It is worthy of note that disasters are all local, they happen in particular communities in a particular Local Government Areas. The first lifesaving responders are always local before additional support will come from the state capital or Abuja. We must therefore strive to support out Local Emergency Management Committees (LEMCs) with adequate capacity building, funding and equipment to take disaster risk management to the communities to build safe and resilient communities and by extension a safer and resilient Nigeria.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I am happy that we are here with experts from NIHSA and NiMet to support this initiative of the downscaling of disaster early warning measures to grassroots for effective live-saving early actions during the 2023 rainy season. Subsequently, we are deploying the same experts from NEMA, NiMet and NIHSA to all the states of the federation and the FCT to downscale and take the early warning message to all the relevant end users across socio-economic sectors. | am very confident that this initiative will enable all responsible actors take risk informed decisions to enable them match early warning with early action, support disaster risk management, safeguard national food security and engender sustainable socioeconomic growth in Nigeria.
We are flagging off this event here in Uyo in consideration of the existing mutual support and collaboration between NEMA and the Akwa !bom government. I am glad to announce that we have gone a long way in the process of setting up NEMA Operations Office here in Uyo to advance a new vista of collaboration and to take disaster risk management to the next level. Akwa Ibom state government has promised to provide NEMA a befitting office accommodation and warehouse facility to enable the prepositioning and stockpiling of relief items for easy deployment in the event of an emergency.
Finally I wish to thank the Government of Akwa Ibom State for the typical hospitality and for supporting us towards the success of this event. I thank our esteemed partner’s including Akwa lbom SEMA, NIHSA, NiMet nd members of the press for all their continuous support to NEMA.
Thank you all.