He was confusedly, murmuring, talking to no one in particular. Surrounded by gloom and uncertain future, he barked; why is nature unfair to me? At 74, Mallam Nuhu Lawani from Yauri LGA Kebbi State does not look poor by all standards but flood has caused him to slink along the streets vaguely abashed and involuntarily imprisoned while the future gives him no glimmer of hope.
He stares at the ravaging flood wanting to dive in and end it all and see no more of this troubles of life, the rampaging flood that has uprooted his ancestral home and his farms. But his second son Abdullahi beckons on his father to believe and have faith in Allah as the giver and provider of life. Allah has not abandoned us, Abdullahi enthused.
Alhaji Shehu Aminu’s case from Ngaski Local Government Area was more pathetic. A slim, handsome, well built man of Fulani extraction was rather that of a case where good and evil angels play a game of chance in a man’s soul.
To Shehu, he has made up his mind to die. Not out of passion or petulance but because his body and vicissitudes of life is best to make an end. Life has been unfair to me. Pointing out at a vast acreage of land where he intended to have a bountiful harvest of rice, millet and maize during this upcoming harvest but all is now washed away by flood. “l am benumbed and confounded All my toil this year is lost, he cried out. Why is the flood so in human? Why is the flood always targeting our farmlands? Look at our homes; flood has reduced it to rubbles. Our live stock washed away. So many whys. The old farmer was crying, weeping because the rampaging and heartless flood has totally submerged 12 local government areas in Kebbi State.
From Yauri to Kalgo to Bagudo to Jega. From Ngaski to Argungu to Bunza and even to Duku which is only 3 kilometers to state capital Benin Kebbi, the entire landscapes have been submerged.
Last week the writer visited Kebbi State and the calamity on ground is better imagined. The sight is a reminiscent of a war situation in Congo or a sight of families fleeing their homes when the bombs and rockets take over the air and people have to run for shelter. But in Kebbi it is “flood war”. Families leaving their ancestral homes to nowhere in particular. Highways turned to homes for displaced people. The community spirit…..be thy Brother’s Keeper comes on handy in most of the affected Local Governments as canoe and boats were hurling trapped citizens out of danger areas. It was a sight not behold to see. It was like biblical Armageddon had come to fulfill its promise.
Alhaji Abdullahi Buhari, chairman Ngaski Local Government Area opines that this year’s flood is unprecedented. It is a terror flood .We have indeed unbounded imagination and initiative to tackle this menace as we started cleaning the drainage routes while also informing and sensitizing our people who are mostly farmers to be cautious and vigilant but the velocity and volume of the flood was too heavy to abate.
In fact, when the Nigeria Hydrological Services did their forecast that the flood level will rise up to 7.02 meters, we had a meeting with traditional rulers to sensitive their subjects of the impending flood. In fact we never believed or assumed it will be all that ferocious and life threatening. Ngaski Local Government is heavily affected because we are at the river bank and this contributed heavily to the flooding of our farms. In my Local Government, we have the newly built ultra modern GB foods – a food processing plant which the state governor personally attracted to this area. We hope other investors who have shown interest to tap into agricultural potentials will not be dampened due to this type of flood disaster, Buhari retorted.
According to reports from NIMET, Kebbi State has 15 highly risk Local Government Councils that will be highly affected while the remaining 6 LGAS will witness slight flooding as the impact will not be too severe. Already in the affected local governments Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps have been set up to accommodate the displaced residents.
Chairman Kebbi State Emergency Management Authority (KASEMA) Alhaji Sanni Dododo revealed that already at least 5 different bridges had been washed away across the state.
The Birnin Kebbi- Makera-Kangiwa road, the international highway, which runs from the state capital to Niger Republic, is already showing signs of caving in. Also the Bagudo- Tugar-Kaoje route which leads to Benin Republic border including the Tugar Bridge is totally submerged thereby cutting border communities from economic activities.
According to Alhaji Dododo; since the advent of this rampaging flood, at least 33 people have been swept away. Some bodies are found while some are still missing. The devastating effect of this year’s flood is huge to the state and to the country given the pivotal role Kebbi State plays in the Nations food architecture. With floods over taken our rice, millet, maize, onion farms will obviously affect the food security of our nation, Dododo stated.
Erich Fromm in his book, Revolution of Hope said those whose hope is strong, see and cherish all signs of new life and are ready every moment to help the birth of that which is ready to be born. Regretting the impact of this year’s flooding will have on the economy of the nation, the Executive Governor of Kebbi State Senator Atiku Bagudu succinctly put it this way; we must begin to appreciate that climate change is real and we must therefore adapt to seek the new reality with its concomitant effects.
Our failure ab initio in developing a master plan that will either control the flooding or design a national drainage path way that will contain the onslaught is a sign of leadership failure both at the federal, state or local government levels. Why is it that when Chad blinks or wants to offload water at Lake Chad, Nigeria gets jittering. Our when Mali, Niger or Cameron Republics threaten to block or build dams along the River ways, it sends panic button to Nigerian authorities. Flooding is a global issue. It occurs even in developed economies like China, Korea, India, Singapore, Philippines, Brazil, France but these countries have designed strategies with flood disaster management processes to contain its effect. But here there is nothing of such but we only forecast clearly.
My thinking now is divided between the present and the future. The present shows signs of despair. Yes the flood is here and to demonstrate that the state government has human feeling, we have provided (IDPS) palliatives like shelter, clothing, food items, medical facilities and most importantly assuring them to have hope. And for the future, it looks promising if leadership presents a road map that will clearly define strategies to contain the flood disasters.
It is sad that every year authorities are fraught with excuses complaining of dams built in River Niger, Shiroro in Kaduna River, Bagolori Dam as well as River Benue Basin as part of the problem. But must we not attempt a solution than giving up?
Senator Atiku Bagudu believes that we must begin to examine issues that should have humanist values. I am therefore proposing that the Federal Government of Nigeria should establish a National Agency to be named National Flood Commission. This body to be made up of experts from all levels of engineering, architecture, environmentalists, water resource engineers, soil engineers, hydrologists etc are to critically evaluate and advise the Federal Government on how best to tackle or reduce the effects of flood in our nation. As we get more involved in urban renewal, dredging of rivers, lakes, ocean, construction of roads housing estates, building dams, to aid our agriculture, our topography will be threatened and we shall be more susceptible to flooding. We should therefore holistically take into consideration, areas of our strength and areas of weakness and design a partway that will reduce the flood war in Nigeria .As a nation we must not concede to despair but cultivate the ability to self actualize our dreams ,
The governor pointed out that the rampaging flood which has touched down well in Kebbi and Niger States is enroute to Kogi, Kwara, Anambra , Edo , Delta, Rivers , Bayelsa, etc and therefore should be viewed as a Nigerian phenomenon. And the worst scenario is that those states highlighted above have a lot of agricultural and aquatic potentials and therefore the food basket of the nation . Our food security is in jeopardy already and this is why am calling on every ladder of leadership in the public space, private sector or even religious leaders to bring ideas that will mitigate the effect of flood in Nigeria .Finally, Senator Bagudu urges his Kebbians to keep hope alive .I appreciate their perseverance, their resilience and ability to absorb shocks. Kebbians have unapologetic and innate value that drive them. They have intrinsic confidence that the leadership will surely liberate them from the destructive power of flood in their homestead.
Nwamadi is a public affairs commentator