Vanguard (Lagos)

6 October 2012

Nigeria: Floods Wreak Havoc, Render Many Homeless

Flood has continued to ravage the length and breadth of Nigeria with its inherent consequences. This prologue by Saturday Vanguard's JOHN BULUS seeks the readiness of government to meet the expectations of Nigerians in that direction.

Flood submerged buildings at Umueze Anam, Anambra west LG

Perhaps, one line of prayer Nigerians will never make is to ask for any kind of natural disaster. In any case, no one would contemplate that. But while the case may be different with some people in some technologically advanced societies, it is definitely on the reserve side with Nigerians.

This is predicated on a lot of factors which included poverty, illiteracy, apathy, corruption, collapse of social infrastructures and so on and forth. In fact, Nigerians are never prepared for any emergency situations and because of this, stories of earthquakes,tsunamis, hurricanes and a whole lot of other natural disasters that originated from other climes are not usually received with corresponding alacrity by most Nigerians. To some extent, most people think that Nigeria, nay Africa may be immuned that such destructive occurrences are simply far-fetched.

But obviously, the year 2012 has been a different one for Nigeria and most Nigerians. It is a year that has inculcated in most Nigerians the feelings of fear. Similarly, the government is startled by the deluge of destructions. Since the beginning of the rainy season, it is hard to find anyone who is without the knowledge of the menace of flood associated with, perhaps, the unusual volume of rainfalls this year. If one has not been directly affected, one must have been indirectly affected.

From south to north, east to western Nigeria, there have been severe incidences of flood and windstorms that have ravaged communities, destroyed houses and submerged farmlands while several families have been displaced. The worse is the supreme prize which many hapless and helpless victims of the disaster have paid with their lives. Even though, reports put the number of deaths at about 140, some analysts believed that it has exceeded that number.

Indeed, the case of flood and its attendant challenges this year are unprecedented. It caused erosion and jolted rivers and seas to overflow their banks. Even dams were not spared as they overflowed beyond their boundaries. Consequently, many villages, houses are menacingly threatened by either erosion or flood.

For instance, the Atani Campus of the Federal Polytechnic, Oko in Anambra State has been eaten up. The campus has been shot down by the authorities. This has paralyzed academic activities in the institution. In Lagos, many houses have been destroyed and people displaced. Roads are not spared as they have been cut off.

In the North Central geo-political zone, Benue, Kogi and Plateau states have not had it so good. Many communities have been completely over- taken by flood. It could be recalled that Lokaja-Abuja Highway, the only link between the North and south was completely flooded that for days, motorists and passengers were stranded on the way. The road is yet to get better.

Communities in Edo and Delta states are not spared either. It got to an unbearable point that Governor Adams Oshomole of Edo State had to let out a yell, calling for the help of the Federal Government.

Even while the menace of flood is yet to die down, the Nigerian Metrological Agency, NIMET, has continued to baffle more Nigerians by making predictions of more calamities.

Hear the Director-General of the Agency, Dr. Anthony Anuforom. "For hydrological and water resources sector, this implies adequate water and stream-flows which may affect the dam storage for municipal water supply, hydropower generation and irrigation.

"Development and regular maintenance of dams for dry season irrigation and water supply should be accorded high priority.

"However, episodic flooding and erosion in the coastal zone and river catchment areas maybe inevitable and as such, adequate publicity is highly recommended in order to reduce damages and risk of loss of life and property, especially in areas prone to river bank overflows."

With the predictions of more flood and erosion in the months ahead, all eyes are now on the Federal Government to provide proactive measures or be ready to meet up any emergencies that may arise from the natural phenomena. But will it? This is one question that is begging for answer.

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