THE National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)’s warning to Nigerians to be prepared for serious lightning this year though coming at a time the entire country is engulfed with sundry emotional issues must be taken with the seriousness it deserves to avoid tragic consequences. In other words, the warning should be given the required attention and preparation to mitigate the consequences of the unusual intense lightning and thunderstorms that will occur as predicted by NEMA. There are several reasons why the warning can not be treated with levity.
ONE, NEMA is an agency established by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1999 to manage disasters. The agency has been tackling disaster related issues through the establishment of concrete structures and other measures that include education and awareness of the public on possible disasters to raise their level of awareness on sources of potential dangers so as to be able to reduce their effects in the country. Over the years, the organization has been discharging this very important responsibility efficiently and therefore the current warning should not be taken lightly but must be given the necessary consideration, attention and preparation to counter the dangers associated with it as well as minimize its destructive effects on the people and environment of the country.
IN the pursuit of its onerous responsibility, NEMA has predicted in her latest release that the country would experience about 2.9 million lightning strikes during the month of May and has warned that during the month, ”If you hear thunder, go indoors for your safety”. According to the agency, thunderstorms are expected to spread across Nigeria throughout the month.
THE red states which are at higher risk of severe lighting strikes and flooding according to NEMA are in the South-South, South-East, North-Central, and North-East of the country and they would experience more intense lighting strikes .Lightning is usually accompanied by thunderstorms and all thunderstorms are known to be dangerous. Also, every thunderstorm produces lightning charges with lethal collateral damage that kills many people all over the world each year more than tornadoes. In other words, lightning occurs with all thunderstorms and causes deaths and several damages to property and forests annually.
IT should be emphasized that people at the most risk from lightning are those who are outdoors, especially under or near tall trees, in or on water, and in or near hilltops. Therefore, during thunder and lightning, people should avoid these places and stay indoors.
Nigerians are advised to procure lighting detection facilities to help them detect and prevent lighting.
TO forestall and mitigate the consequences of the predicted 2.9 lightnings in different parts of Nigeria, all hands must be on deck. The people must be adequately informed and mobilised about the likely occurrence of high magnitude of lightning in different parts of the country and should not adduce their occurrence to evil spirits but to seek to protect themselves by staying away from tall trees, water and hills. This seriously underscores the need to mobilise the citizenry to take adequate precautionary measures during the impending thunderstorm and intense lightning so that they will not become casualties. They should do away with primordial sentiments that lightnings are sent to exterminate their enemies.
THE governments at all levels especially the state and local governments should have emergency plans to counter the vagaries and destruction associated with thunderstorms and lightening.
NEMA and other government agencies handling disasters should not relent in their efforts to raise awareness especially among the local people that often ascribe environmental hazards such as thunder and lightning to evil works of men. They should be made to see it as a natural phenomenon that requires scientific knowledge to handle and key to the advice given them by NEMA. Since the intense lightning is associated with climate change vagaries, government should articulate and implement policies and plan to tackle disasters as they occur.
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