Rainy season is commonly known as a time of the year for farmers. This is the season when farmers labor with all their hearts and minds. It is apt to indicate that agriculturalists give themselves absolutely to agri-businesses, in order not to miscue the opportunity to produce a good harvest for the sustenance and wherewithal of their relatives in particular; and the societies at large. In fact, individual discoveries have shown that within some communities, it is near impossible to have a long tête-à-tête with anyone relating to anything, outside the rains and making a beautiful harvest on the long run. This demonstrates how pleased and gratified they are with their farming businesses. So, for farmers, rain is like a god.
Then, what do we say of individuals in the riverine assortments? In as much as the rains convey joyfulness and gives a breather to the minds and hearts of farmers; it also runs by again on the minds of the people; the difficulties and glitches that they come across all through the rainy times; expressly for persons who occupy the defenseless parts of Nigeria. Reasons been that the rivers and lakes oversupply their banks, and many purlieu expanses are every; so often affected by the run-off of water. A lot of families are not just plunge in the flood that arise enthrallingly, on the other hand are similarly frightened out of their wits into misery. As a consequence, the affected commonalities who are possibly farmers; in most cases, start to suffer want and grow hungry. A season they anticipate with inordinate delight turns out to be a disgusting one for them to look on.
It is true that practically; the whole protectorate of Nigeria suffers from flood yearly and it ensues in a lot of dissimilar States. We must not fail to remember that the furthermost fearful of floods in the history of Nigeria happened in July 2012. National and International Intelligences have it that 363 people were killed and over 2.1 million others were expatriated from their family circle and turned into émigré in another man’s land. The said year was unanimously revealed to be the most destructive and hurtful; because it affected approximately 7 million citizens. And the fatalities and indemnities produced by the floods were up to N2.6 trillion. I hope this worrying tragedy won’t happen this year. Or are we not already experiencing it? We pray for God’s clemency.
The Nigeria coffers must be very rich to have spent such an amount of money on convalescence and mortality rate. Where was the money before the floods happened? Just imagine an amount of money that can be used to make good roads with better drains to properly channel water to the appropriate places. The government came to their rescue with relief materials, but would that lead them anywhere? I definitely don’t think so. I think it can be included in the annual financial budget of our beloved nation, so that whenever it happens; the government will just go into the nation’s treasury to help victims with the normal relief materials. Where are we headed?
I won’t be missing words if I say flooding has instigated a lot of shock in Nigeria with a reasonable amount of threat on persons; other commercial substructures inclusive. We are all living witnesses to the floods of 2012, a lot of promises were made to the people who reside around the waters; while some of those promises which were monetary and financially motivated came to the fore, the most important which is trying to provide a lasting solution to the growing menace never came forth. These people are still suffering, while hoping that someday their problems would be overturned. Unfortunately, there is still no serious response from the government; as the people still scuffle to survive in the floods. Was the government not elected into office to protect citizens from all vicissitudes of life?
Ensuing from the upsurge of the rivers and lakes which upshots floods in Nigeria, residents around the concerned extents have all gone into the woods and coppices to pitch their tents therein; all in a bid to safeguard their crops. Communities in these areas are getting empty by the day. You even hardly find a handful of them in places of worship, and other recreational venues. More annoying is the fact that establishments of learning that should have usually begun learning; are as empty as a stadium when there is no football match taking place. Should we put the blame on the inhabitants? No, at least they have elected a government that can utility this water space into resourceful places.
In truth, Nigeria is a state that continually fails to learn from its past. This year, we have had manifestations of floods which were caused by heavy rain storms that led to the breakdown of dams in some Nigerian states like Lagos, Benue, Rivers, Kogi and so on. As this heavy cloudburst endures unrelentingly in these places, residents have continually lamented to the government for possible headways. But will government make a big step towards stopping the growing problem? I am yet to see! The trials of floods have turned Nigerians into ungrateful beings. What a sorry situation! Look at inhabitants who hitherto ask for the rains to come because of the freshness and coolness it offers and the liberation it brings from sweltering and unpleasing high temperature of the dry time of year, now seek a redress.
Other areas of the country like Edo state and its neighborhoods are holding their breath over the forthcoming and imminent flood that may once again relocate them from their households. The residents of these places are perturbed and petrified, as majority of persons are already praying that the rains take a minimal approach this time around. But this doesn’t erase the fact that some of them are even now evacuating their homes, knowing that those who have automobiles are taking them out in preparation for the yearly event. I just hope the government is able to find a long-lasting resolution to the problematic of flooding in these areas.
I must acknowledge that the determination and willpower of the government, so far; at attacking the danger of flooding in Nigerian communities give the impression of an incomplete or a failing mission, mostly due to factors that are up till now featureless. This is for the reason that the government’s energies toward resolving the trials of flooding in Nigeria has not been accompanied by dependable efforts to address them. Simply put, the government talk more than they act in this regard. We listen to the different ministries and constituents present a lot of resolutions on ways of culminating this every twelve months trials and tragedies of flooding; but then a zero effort is recorded at the end of the day. Why waist our time talking when we can’t act?
It would definitely be a disservice not to appreciate the assistance of the Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation, our president’s wife Aisha Buhari, Dangote, TuBaba, Juliet Ibrahim, Ekiti Lions Club, APC and PDP Leaders, Churches, even National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), subsequent on the current flood that overwhelmed nine local governments areas of Benue state. Nonetheless, how long will individuals and the government continue to provide relief materials when we can tackle this problem once and for all? We need an achievable solution to this problem.
The one-million-dollar question remains what the eternal medicines to the consistent flooding in Nigeria are? For the reason that, that question has over the years remained unrequited; for its begs for answers and Nigerians are waiting for concrete and existing ripostes from the government. The communities are living in fear, knowing that floods come with shock. They cannot stand its aftermath effects. Walking along the streets alone, one would without difficulty understand and detect a fearful atmosphere within the people; following them on their craniums like tongues of fire at the Pentecost event. They seek help from the government. Will the government, in this eon of change; transform the already existing status quo of these bothered people?
We can take a lead from developed countries such as the United States; perchance the Netherlands. I strongly endorse that a regulation or a decree is made that necessitates individual state in Nigeria to formulate a flood deathtrap atlas. I am confident that this will reinforce and toughen existing organizations to be oversensitive in the direction of flood risk lessening; amongst the states in the country. When this legislation is formulated; the government in whatever level can conveniently reach the defenseless territories of flood and proffer answers to their problems.
I am very indebted to the functions of the National Emergency and Management Agency (NEMA) in working out a wide-ranging management and bringing together of the overall materials connecting to the environment; but then again enhancement and improvement are importantly obligatory in yielding a successful expedition towards stopping the prevailing circumstances of flooding in Nigeria. Thus, I recommend that obtaining and finding of information relating to the would be affected areas ought to be the agencies’ uppermost priority; not providing material relief when the disaster happens.
Even when we keep calling on the government for support now and again; the responsibilities of protecting and defending the country from impending manifestations of floods is a cooperative one; it is a household task. Henceforward, the people fundamentally need to take part in matters involving the endless obliteration of floods in Nigeria. This can be done by certifying that when regulations and legislations which lie beneath the implementation of environmental canons and guidelines are compiled for the peoples to follow; these laws are observed without any difficulty and trouble. But how many Nigerians obey our Nigeria common rush-hour traffic laws today?
However, the government needs to play more challenging parts in this regard. This is because the people are most times handicapped and anytime its rains cats and dogs, the people are usually found in the floods struggling to secure their belongings. This is very treacherous to them, for reptiles and other creeping creatures live in this flood and can endanger the lives of these people in the process. This is not to point out the inexcusable commonness of theft and sexual abuse these people undergo in their trepidation camps. It is sequel on this that I indorse that a floodway that lets floods to stream through the community with little or no hurt done should be constructed in the floodplain zones.
The Nigerian government needs to have their hands-on deck in setting up standing squads that will confront the problem of flood in Nigeria as soon as the raining session is forthcoming. This squad can be encumbered with the responsibilities of enabling effective disaster readiness and possible responses to the prevailing problem of flood in Nigeria. This technique will not only save lives and source of revenue of the people, it will correspondingly lessen their defenselessness and helplessness to flood threat in the country.
It is not and never will be a crime that the people who live in flood threats areas, come from these places. So, the government at all phases would need to change from making promises to providing lasting answers to flood threat in Nigeria; so as to raise the hopes of these people by bringing them out of the peril of flooding that befalls them annually.
Fr. John-Duke Akowe is a Priest of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria