The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Leadway Assurance, Tunde Hassan-Odukale, has cautioned Nigerians not to ignore the early warning forecast by the relevant weather monitoring and emergency management agencies about this year’s rainfall and flooding expectations.
Like last year, the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMET) issued a grim forecast. “2023 will witness an early onset of rainfall accompanied by flooding”, the agency said in its forecast published in January 2023. “Starting in March, coastal areas in the South-South, particularly Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers State, will experience downpours; Southern Inland cities will see precipitation in April, while central states will see rain in May”, the agency further reported.
NiMET also predicted extended rainfall in Gombe, Kaduna, Kwara, Enugu, Anambra, Ogun, and Lagos states. It said, “between June and July, the northern states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Yobe, and Borno would experience the beginning of rain, which will peak between July and September”.
According to federal authorities, the 2022 floods resulted in 662 deaths across 33 states as the deluge of rain washed away years of investments in agriculture, hundreds of hectares of farmlands, and properties estimated at trillions of Naira. The federal government estimated that over 2 million Nigerians were displaced and that the national economy lost well over N4.2 trillion to the floods.
“This year’s weather forecast paints a bleak picture, especially against the backdrop of the prevailing global inflation and economic vulnerabilities and uncertainties. As expected, these projections call for a prompt response from all stakeholders. As a nation, as Agribusiness investors, business owners, property and asset managers, families, and individuals, we must proactively take action to mitigate the disheartening and devastating human and material losses from the flooding incidents in 2022”, Mr. Hassan-Odukale said.
“With the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reporting that Nigeria’s food inflation rate peaked at 24.35 percent in February 2023, there is an urgent need to prioritize food security and protect the enormous investment in agriculture. On our side, we have designed insurance policies to help victims of devastating flooding recover from the massive financial losses, which experts estimated at over N4.2 trillion”, he added.
Hassan-Odukale pointed to the Agricultural market, which contributed 26.97 percent to the national GDP in 2022, as the most vulnerable sector to flood devastation. The National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, estimated that the industry lost about 700 billion Naira to the 2022 flood.
Similarly, the construction and property market, which NBS reported contributed about N20 trillion to the Nigerian GDP in the first three quarters of last year, is also one of the vulnerable sectors to watch.