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June in October

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Traffic is gridlocked on the Lagos – Ibadan expressway following heavy rain downpour that obstructed vehicle movement in Ojodu in Lagos State southwest Nigeria, on October 10, 2019. – Residents of Wawa community in Ogun State, and neighbouring states in southwest Nigeria are still suffering from the wreaked havoc following a downpour that left many homes and offices flooded, roads impassable and disrupted economic activities across the states. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

Several areas of Lagos were locked down by flooding which, in the last two weeks, has swept through swathes of Lekki and Victoria Island, traditionally prone to risks of the mass of water movement.

A great many could not come out of their homes because there was water everywhere around them. This paralyzed traffic and predictably commercial activities as well in Nigeria’s ever bubbling business capital.

The State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, rose to the challenge by declaring a state of emergency to deflood Lagos and free the perennial traffic logjam which got worse with the floods and concomitant bad roads. Geographers would be quick to remind us of periods when we have maximum rain around the Equator belt. These are June and September, the former when the sun crosses the Equator heading for the Northern Hemisphere. It returns in September, heading back towards the Southern Hemisphere in the perpetual cycle of the earth movement.

From the experiences of the last two weeks, if we do not have metrological services figures as our guide, it would have been tempting to say we were experiencing June in October. The month has manifested all the traits of June in terms of frequency, or for days non-stop heavy rain accompanied by storms pounding Lagos area, indeed several parts of the country.

In the first maximum, that is June, the amount of rain that fell was 186.8mm, dropping to 138.9mm in July and further still to 98.7mm to give us the August dry season. The amount rose steeply to 163.2mm in September. The forecast for September is 157mm, going down to 122mm next month. We have the metrological services to applaud for keeping us to date on weather conditions. Indeed, the Metrological and Hydrological agencies foreshadowed the deluge and the attendant flooding.

At a workshop, their chiefs warned that Nigeria might experience higher flooding this year. At the workshop, NEMA Director-General Mustapha Maihaja and Clement Eze, Director-General of NHISA said higher flooding should be expected. Indeed, Mr. Eze feared that should Cameroon, Niger, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali and the Republic of Benin should release water from the overflowing dams there might be flooding disaster as it happened some years back and even last year.

We can all see from year to year the weather conditions in the now proverbial Climate Change. No one can say it is Climate Hoax any more. It was a subject of discussion in the just-concluded United Nations 74th yearly gathering. Before then there was a summit of G7 Nations in France since industries are blamed as the main causes of global warming and CO2 emissions said to be largely responsible for the climate horrors of these times. The emissions, the magnitude of which is calculated to be in several billion tons, is said to have caused imbalance in ecological equilibrium. Scientists say the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere today beats the record of 800,000 years.

The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, consisting of 300 leading scientists, has drawn together the results of the new studies which indicate the global warming effects are bearing down! They show that snow cover sharply decreased as the climate warmed up, that glaciers have strung and sea ice has melted. With global warming, vast amounts of frozen carbon-dioxide and methane have been released.

Mr. Sanwo-Olu cannot be blamed for the excruciating experiences of Lagosians grappling with floods these past two weeks. Emergency can only be palliative. What is required is permanent solutions. If my memory serves me right, enough studies have been done on Lagos floods. All he should do is to bring them out from the shelves and get them implemented.

Fortunately, he has Tunji Bello with him as his Commissioner for Environment. Bello is one who has been familiar with the Lagos environment problems and solutions. No matter the local efforts, account must be taken of the global warming which is dismantling the ice regions, thawing glaziers to bring about phenomenal rise in water level whether in the ocean, the Lagos Lagoon or in the water table under the ground. This reminds me of the jolting predictions of Professor Benedict Ijeomah about Victoria Island some 29 years ago. Commenting on his predictions in 1990, I wrote as follows in a piece captioned: “Ijeomah’s lonely voice on the Island”:

“Professor Benedict Ijeomah has sent alarm signals to his compatriots that Victoria Island, widely regarded as the choicest residential area in the country, has only between five and 16 years to sink.

“There have been warnings about Victoria Island, but none has been so categorical as Professor Ijeomah’s. His came in the manner of the warnings and predictions of the prophets of old—pointed, relentless. What research are you going to conduct into whether Israel will or will not be defeated in battle? But King Ahab would not hear of it; he asked Elisha to display his credentials.

“Professor Ijeomah is dean of the faculty of arts and social sciences. And to assure the public we have been told that, as a sociologist, he was not competent to make pronouncements on the state of Victoria Island which is a highly technical issue. Professor Dagogo Fubara, chairman of the national sub-committee on earthquake monitoring, described any talk of Victoria Island sinking as “alarmist.”

A professor of geology is reported as saying there is no evidence that the island will sink although there is the problem of erosion along the coastline generally. Another lecturer believes that the heavy structures on the Island coupled with low water tables are inimical as they weaken the earth’s crust which substantially agrees with the conclusions of Professor Ijeomah who had spoken about stress in the earth crust brought about by the heavy structures.

Experts are talking about rise in sea level and accelerated coastal erosion which has advanced water into the land but they will not accept Victoria Island will sink. Professor Ijeomah was drawn into defending his credential, saying sociology covered every knowledge and action that give meaning to man and his environment. He referred to the melting of Iceberg in 1982 which he claimed to have accurately foreseen in 1977.

The problem with man is that before he reads a book, he checks the credentials of the author. It is who writes, not what he writes! It is who is speaking, not what is being said, the messenger rather than the message. And this reminds me. Mr. Richard Ingrams wrote the other day about Enoch Powell whom he described as indefatigable, indeed to those who have been following his career in British public life. Mr. Ingrams is a columnist on the British newspaper, The Observer. He commented on Mr. Powell thus: “The indefatigable Mr. Powell has been on the telly repeating his charges against Shakespeare. The charges betray Mr. Powell’s own spectacular limitations. In short, he cannot believe that Shakespeare wrote his plays because Shakespeare was not an educated man (i.e. he had not been to university like Mr. Powell) and yet the plays are full of all kinds of references to the classics, etc. Therefore, Shakespeare must have been someone else.”

Added Mr. Ingrams: “Mr. Powell cannot conceive of a great man who is not famous, important and well educated in a conventional sense. Whereas the mark of a great man is that he is, generally speaking, none of these things…” The abilities of a man depend largely on how well he may have lived in his previous wanderings through this world, that how clarified is he inwardly.

What abilities and knowledge Shakespeare carried over from his earlier lives which later unfolded to make him the renowned playwright and philosopher that astounded the world! Doesn’t it shock us that our forefathers brought forth proverbs effortlessly and the stock of these wise sayings has not been increased in spite of the present-day civilization and research?

Professor Ijeomah’s finer faculties may have been awakened from which he drew to make his predictions. The choice is
societies. He may be ignored; merrymaking may go on. The people of the continent of Atlantis were warned for 49 years. They ignored the warnings by the knowing ones. Noah was called a liar. He who has ears let him hear. And those who see should perceive!

Many may say, but five years have passed, and 16 years have gone, nothing has happened. On top of this Lekki has emerged a dazzling city of its own. Professor Ijeomah spoke with such frightening definitiveness. Many things may have happened such that the famous Island and some other impoldered areas are protected. There may have been interceding currents brought about by volition of men and which have come to the rescue, or physical efforts that held the island in the rotation movement of the earth crust. It is also possible Professor Ijeomah’s timing was influenced by timing in lighter planes of the Beyond. Have we not heard that a thousand years here on earth is no more than a day in the Spiritual Light Realm?

Mr. Jide Sanwo-Olu has his work well cut out for him. He also has the push that he has no choice but to protect all flood and erosion-prone areas of Lagos State. He must save everywhere. If he cannot be blamed for the failure of this year, he cannot have any excuse next year. He has between now and June next year to roll up his sleeves and make a difference. Tackling the flood menace is the first step. The alert given by Mustapha Maihaja and Clement Eze should be sufficient warning.


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