Once again, Nigeria is withnessing another flooding circle. Hundreds of communities across several states, especially those along the nation’s two major rivers from the North to the South East Regions are worst hit. The low land lying states of the Niger Delta are not spared either. For example, Niger, Enugu and Bayelsa states in the mentioned regions are suffering their worst possible flooding ever. Yet these are not the only states affected. As the water levels continue to rise, several communities are submerged, farmlands destroyed, social economic activities halted and people heralded into IDP camps.
Since 2012 or slightly earlier than that when the nation started witnessing this yearly circle of floods, same communities, same regions and same people have been affected. Like the years before, we are once again in 2018 into emergency evacuation and herding of affected communities and peoples into barely habitable makeshift IDP Camps where government officials and agencies make photoshoot visits and donations of blankets other tokenism called relief materials.
A visit to most of these IDPs will reveal the usual state of squalor, lack of running and drinkable water, good and safe toilet facilities, no electricity, etc etc. The possibility of the break out of epidemic due to the poor state of facilities in these camps is a reality that stares us all in the face. Thousands of lives have been lost in the course of these yearly floodings and as usual in the instant case, school callenders have been disrupted as residents flee submerged communities, social and economic activities in affected communities kept in abeyance and farmlands and other agricultural ventures destroyed. Considering the fact that rice is mostly planted on the water planes along the affected regions, it is not difficult to harzard a guess as to the effect of the destruction of vast acres of rice farms on the nation’s quest for self sufficiency in rice production.
To its credit, the Nigerian Meterological Agency NiMet has correctly forcasted and gave sufficient warnings about these yearly floodings long before they occur. But the question is, apart from the annual rituals of setting up of IDP camps what is government doing to prevent this large scale of avoidable deaths and destruction to social economic activities?
NiMet has said that the yearly flooding is as a result of the rising level of water caused by “distortions in the parterns of rainfall due to climate change” The agency has gone further to advise that “unless adequate provision is made to accommodate the amount of water running on the surface” the floods will continue and even get worse.
From the forgoing, it is crystal clear that this is going to be an unavoidable seasonal occurrence that is bound to continue with increased intensity. If this is the case, what is government doing to prevent it? How are the ignorant people in the afdected communities being advised to prepare for it. If we cant stop the water from coming, we can certainly act proactively to mitigate or even prevent it from destroying our communities. The NiMit gave a hint of a possible solution when it said provisions should be made to accommodate the amount of water running on the surface. Over the period of these incidents of floodings that yearly makes people refugees in thier own country, results in lost of lives and means of livelihood, several solutions have been profered by experts to mitigate the situation.
Some of these have included several calls on government to dredge the Benue and Niger rivers, two of the nation’s main water reservours which have become blocked by sand to accommodate the increase in surface water. Added to this has been calls on government to remove all distortions on natural drain systems and to enforce regulations that ensures that blocking of drainages and building of houses on flood plains are prohibited. Where this has been done government owns the responsibility in the interest of public safety to ensure that such obstructions to free water flow are removed instead of the current resort to establishment of emergency camps for the displaced which ends up gulping up billions of Naira half of which end up in the pockets of government officials than solve the problem.
Mr President, Minister, Governor or Commissioner! Going on that photoshoot trip to flood ravaged comnunities or visiting IDP camps to commiserate and donate food items to victims is not good governance. Your token donations cannot compensate for the yearly lost of property to these people. Neither can it restore the lost learning time for children forced out of their learning environment. Not to talk of deaths that have resulted. If governments at various levels have made efforts to implement the recommendations of thier own agencies and experts since 2012 or thereabouts when these serious yearly flooding began, a lot would have been achieved in preventing the suffering of the people.
But alas! In Nigeria, the security and well being of the people have no place in the consideration of our leaders. Another campaign and election season is here. In this midst of this you have hundresds of communities destroyed by water and thousands displaced living in squalid conditions in IDP camps and yet there is no political party or candidate that has made the recurring problem a program of political campaign. There is even no mention of it. All these guys are about is to grab power. They have absolutely no interest in what is happening to the people they aspire to lead.
May God help Nigeria.