Nature acts in a way that it does not announce how it will be or the extent it will go when it unleashes its power. In the rainy season, it is almost an uncontrollable force of nature as flooding comes with the rains. This year’s rains seemed unprecedented as almost on a daily basis, there is a heavy downpour. This has resulted in flooding that has a far reaching consequence as many communities in Nigeria’s 33 States are submerged under floodwaters.
Flooding occurs yearly. But like the devastating flooding that happened other years, this year’s flooding is characterised as the highest.
Resulting not only from the force and fierceness of nature, the opening of dams also contributed to the menace. “Remember, we issued the forecast in February and we followed up with the monthly updates that we’re going to have above-normal rainfall in most parts of the country. So in terms of the rainfall-induced floods, we’ve seen the peak but remember we told you that this rainwater gets collected into the reservoirs and dams, and whenever they are filled, it gets spilt. So, the Lagbo Dam was released on 13th of September. And also Kainji and Shiroro dams were released. So what we’re witnessing now is riverine flooding,” said NiMet Director General, Prof. Mansur Bako Matazu.
Death toll has risen above 600 people amidst loss of livelihood and property including health challenges and displacement.
President Buhari in a tweet wrote, “All Federal agencies dealing with rescue and disaster management have been directed to scale up response and intervention efforts to support the victims of flooding across the country, as well as all the affected State Governments – 33 States so far affected, and the FCT.”
“Over 603 lives have been lost as of today October 16, 2022. A total of 1,302,589 persons have been displaced, 2,504.095 persons have been affected, on the whole, 2,407 persons have been injured, and a total of 82,053 houses are completely damaged while 121,318 are partially damaged. 108,392 hectares of farmland were partially destroyed while 332,327 hectares were totally destroyed including many roads and other critical infrastructure.” Sadiya Umar Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management & Social Development.wrote in a tweet.
The efforts of the federal government should not be limited to only scaling up emergency response which possibly will be affected by bureaucracy and corruption. The federal government should declare an emergency which will draw all relevant federal agencies to concentrate in mitigating the losses and providing emergency shelters and medicines, helping affected people to rebuild and also find a lasting solution to the flooding.
The constitution empowers the government in section 305(3e) to declare emergency when “there is an occurrence or imminent danger, or the occurrence of any disaster or natural calamity, affecting the community or a section of the community in the Federation.” Affected 33 out of 36 states is enough for emergency declaration.
This year’s flooding is already a disaster and natural calamity. A look at the images where flood levels have reached the roof tops, it has earnestly reached to draw the federal government to act expeditiously to assist the people in finding ways to redirect flood and to a pool of funding that will help them quickly rebuild after the calamity.
Flooding in Nigeria is a regular occurrence with varying degrees in devastation. But the federal government or the state governments have often played the ostrich adopting the principle of waiting-out each devastation without planning to fundamentally improve or stop the root causes of the flooding.
Sending out warnings and forecasts may help but like the case on hand, it only helped to have people relocate from the communities.
Flooding is caused by population growth. As the population grows, human activities like indiscriminate construction of property along waterways and dumping of waste increases. Poor governance resulting in lack of proper drainage facilities, lack of maintenance of decaying infrastructure, lack of proper environmental planning and management and inadequate preparedness to check the ensuing flooding.
A responsive government will not always rely on sending relief and assistance even though emergency assistance will not be ruled out, but to find ways to curtail devastation to a barest minimum especially through quick construction of more dams that will offset the spilled water.
While the government has about 37 dams being constructed, emergency demands faster execution of the projects.
As many communities are struggling with the effects of the flood, the attention of the country is more on the politics and general elections.
The effect of the flood goes beyond the politicking as prices of food will go high especially as farmlands were grossly affected. Sickness like water borne diseases will spread, among other adverse effects.
These will have a far reaching impact on the life of many Nigerians. Amidst the impending hunger, hardship, disease, and humanitarian crisis, politicking should pause in order to deal with this emergency.