IT is by now quite clear that a major problem of the country is the lackadaisical attitude by the authorities to issues of critical importance to the progress and survival of the citizenry. Consequently, the citizens, especially the ordinary people, have over the years continuously paid for leadership ineptitude and deficit in very huge proportions. One example in this regard is the recurring huge casualties and massive destruction wreaked by perennial flooding across the country. Despite public outcry over the avoidable circumstances that lead to the disaster and aggravate the situation, governments at all levels have often either exhibited a laissez-faire attitude or paid outright lip service to the warnings and advice from experts and professional bodies. Thus, the scale of the loss of lives and properties to floods remains high, with the attendant ripple effects on the socioeconomic life of the country.
In May this year, the Nigeria Hydrological Agency (NHA) issued an alert that at least 102 local government areas in 28 states in the country were at risk of heavy flooding. In March 2012, 32 out of the 36 states were affected by flooding, in which more than 360 people were killed and almost two million displaced. In 2016, more than 92,000 were displaced as flood wreaked havoc across the country. In 2017, the figure almost tripled, as flood sacked an estimated 250,000 Nigerians from their homes. Described as unprecedented, the 2012 flood reportedly affected more than seven million people, with over 2.3 million persons displaced and 363 persons killed. The flood destroyed about 597,476 houses in 34 states, with estimated damage and loss put at N2.6 trillion.
A similar tragic episode witnessed in 2018 left in its wake pains, sorrow and wailing. It affected 2,321,592 people, killed 199 people and displaced 722,741 persons, and destroyed over 100,190 houses. The calamity inflicted on the citizens by flood in 2019 was no least intolerable, as more than 130,934 people were affected, with 48,114 persons displaced and 126 people killed, just as 29,356 houses were destroyed. Reports on severe flooding this year showed that in Jigawa State, which witnessed the worst flooding in 34 years, at least 50,000 houses were destroyed in 17 out of the 27 local government areas in the state, with more than 100,000 hectares of rice farmland washed away. A total of 40 people lost their lives. In Kano, the worst-hit areas is Danbatta, where around 7,000 houses were destroyed and four deaths were recorded. The death toll in Kebbi and Sokoto states are six and 15 respectively.
At least five bridges and more than 500,000 hectares of crops comprising rice, millet, sorghum, maize and sugarcane were destroyed. In Sokoto, a total of 5,254 people have been displaced and 27,000 buildings and vast crop plantations destroyed. In Niger State, no fewer than 100 communities have been submerged by flood and 40 lives lost in a number of local government areas overrun by flood, with more than 500,000 hectares of farm produce estimated at more than N1 billion destroyed. As part of measures to bring temporary relief to flood victims, the Nasarawa State Emergency Management Agency (NASEMA) has distributed food and non-food relief materials to more than 45 communities in Awe and Nasarawa local government areas of the state.
These catastrophes occurred in spite of the 2020 Seasonal Rainfall prediction and the Annual Flood Outlook by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency putting some states at high risk and others at moderately probable flood-risk areas. Apparently, such warnings only elicit last-minute efforts to mitigate the impact of flooding when it occurs instead of long-term realistic actions to check the menace. States often adopt cosmetic measures such as clearing drainages in the midst of rainfalls instead of taking pre-season, concrete, enduring and far-reaching actions to prevent flooding. It is inexplicable and depressing that increasingly, the authorities are finding it difficult to think out of the box and proffer enduring solutions to flooding, which has made death cheap for the common people. Enough of half-hearted, haphazard and cosmetic approaches that consume huge public resources seasonally. There are of course questions about prudence and accountability surrounding the billions statutorily drawn from the National Ecological Fund to fight flooding and other environmental challenges .
It is equally embarrassing that Nigerian leaders keep doing the same thing the same way every year, inflicting trauma on millions of citizens. This explains the indiscriminate erection of structures, dumping of refuse in drainages and public places, as well as disregard for town planning laws and low level of public awareness on the ecosystem. It is time to halt the physical and psychological torture, economic distortions, and dislocations arising from flooding.
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