The Nigerian Flood Disaster - A wake up call

The attention of the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) has been drawn to the recent cases of devastating floods which have ravaged different parts of the country and in the process, destroyed lives, farmlands, livestock and properties worth billions of Naira, as well as, rendered tens of thousands of Nigerians homeless.

Many factors have been canvassed as directly responsible for the upsurge in flood and flooding across the country and these include, climate change resulting in heavy and unprecedented volume of rainfall, release of water from dams both within and outside the country, and blockade of drainage channels as a result of human activities etc. The flood has been described as the worst in over 40 years and according to the Minister for Petroleum, Mrs. Deziani Maduekwe, the disaster is unquantifiable.

It is quite unfortunate and incomprehensible to many Nigerians, that while many are struggling to come to terms with the multiple issues confronting them, including the impact of the prevailing economic downturn, the fragile security situation in the country, and trying to eke out a daily living, they would be confronted yet again by this devastating phenomenon. The effect of the devastating floods which have been witnessed in Sokoto, Kebbi, Kaduna, Niger, Kogi, Nassarawa, Taraba, Benue, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Imo, Lagos, Ondo, Oyo etc have left one to wonder about the consequences of this natural disaster in the event of a reoccurrence in the near future. The case in Lokoja, Kogi State resulted in the splitting up of the Abuja-Lokoja highway which is the major link for commuters from the eastern and western parts of the country to the north. It has been reported that the situation would have been avoided had the required precautionary measures been put in place by the concerned authorities.

Reports have it that in many of the ravished states, several warnings and alerts were made by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other appropriate bodies but were outrightly ignored. This is unacceptable as it has led to the loss of lives and property in a large scale. The concerned authorities must ensure that such lapses are nipped in the bud before their negative consequences manifest. The 2005 UNDP report predicted that Dam at Lake Nyos in Cameroun and very close to Nigeria is at the point of collapse. NEMA has estimated that over 1 million people would die, farmlands would be lost and hundreds of livestock would perish if that happens. It was predicted that the dam within ten years may collapse. NEMA further stated that between Cameroon border and River Benue, more than 50 settlements including Andie, Terwegh, Manga, Waya and Kastina-Ala will be flooded by Lake Nyos. It is over 7 years now and nothing is yet to be done as recommended to avert this disaster. We encourage the Federal government and the responsible agencies to take immediate step at preventing the anticipated flooding and hardship the collapse of the Dam will have on settlement as it is being experienced at the moment.

Flooding is said to come with its own health hazards with the increase in water borne diseases and vector borne diseases. The Ministry of Health should be encouraged at this point to pay more attention to the flooded area by deploying more personnel with the necessary drugs and equipment to ameliorate the ongoing hardship. We commend President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for immediately constituting a Technical Committee to assess the impact of the flood, and also for setting aside 17.6 Billion to further ameliorate the situation and recently setting up a National Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation so as to augment government's effort in raising funds in order to mitigate pains of the flood,
However, as commendable as these steps are, the National Association of Seadogs is calling on the Federal Government to ensure that funds released to the victims of this disastrous flood get to the people they are meant for and also properly utilized.. More importantly, proactive steps should be taken by the concerned authorities to check the trend of floods and put in place contemporary mitigating factors to arrest the situation before hand. The Federal Government must henceforth take all these precautionary measures into consideration and also make it a duty to orientate and enlighten the people when the need arises. It is high time the nation steered clear of sluggish approach, lackadaisical attitude and moribund ways of doing things.

In this vein NAS enjoins the following;

  • The National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) should be enhanced in the areas of technological advancement to enable it to meet the challenges of natural disasters in a proactive manner.
  • State and Federal bodies should engage in public awareness outreach in the areas of adequate Waste Disposal, climatic change education, citizen response to declarations of state of emergency and individual responsibility.
  • Investment in Road and sewage infrastructure to enhance better drainage.

While sympathizing with all the families that have lost their loved ones and property to this ugly phenomenon, the National Association of Seadogs also enjoins all Nigerians, non-governmental organizations, religious bodies, professional organizations, and all concerned groups and individuals in the country to come together in complementing the effort of the government in this desperate times by lending a hand to our aggrieved brothers and sisters. The several camps harboring displaced people around the country are gradually becoming overcrowded and in dire need of clothing, food, water, medication, etc.

Let's take this as a wakeup call to put things right in this rum-old country of ours.

Ide Owodiong-Idemeko
NAS Cap'n