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Our flood disasters as perpetual emergencies

FLOODS in Nigeria typify us as a country in perpetual emergency. It is another testimony to the well-chronicled thoughtless and uncaring attitudes of generations of our governments.

Efforts have been invested in sharing the blames among all of us to make the simple point of the efficiencies of our governments. We, the people, are responsible for the flood for we upstaged everything, yes, everything government had done to secure us from emergencies like floods.

When our governments are not comparing Nigeria’s floods with the global consequences of climate change, they lament our unwillingness to heed warnings issued months ago about floods. We, the people, refuse to prepare for emergencies.

The major challenge of our flood management is to treat it as an emergency when it is not. What we have before us is a perpetual consequence of disastrous governments that are content to run Nigeria as an emergency with notoriously poor emergency services.

For more than 50 years it has been known that the banks of the River Benue flood with dire implications for Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Taraba, Yobe, Gombe (nearest facility for treatment of snake bites victims from the river), Nasarawa, Kogi, Edo, Delta, Anambra, Enugu, Rivers States.

Some of the major tributaries of the River Benue are Rivers Gongola, Kilunga, Mayo Ini, Mayo Belwa, Taraba, Donga, Ankwe and Katsina-Ala. They all join Benue’s flow to empty into the River Niger where it delivers more waters than the Niger at the confluence in Lokoja.

How can matters so documented be treated as emergencies? Are they? Should they? Higher waters in River Benue also affect Cameroun, its origin, on the other side of the Adamawa highlands.

Release of water from Cameroun’s Lagdo Dam, completed in 1982, gets frequent mentions whenever Nigeria floods from the waters of the River Benue hit us. The dam is Cameroun’s response to the floods of its side of the River Benue. Out of respect for international agreements for managing these waters, Cameroun informs Nigeria whenever it wants to ease pressure on Lagdo.

Trite is a fitting description for the information. Nigeria has no use for it, rather it serves no purpose. Nigeria’s emergency services blame our compatriots on the coastal areas and the river banks for not adhering to the warnings issued “in January”. Simply laughable.

Managers of Lagdo Dam yearly give us a message that sounds like mockery because of our governments’ choice to do nothing about important things. They ask us to open our dam to absolve the release from Lagdo Dam and prevent floods and the attendant destruction of property and loss of lives of our people.

The government of Nigeria was supposed to have built the Dasin Hausa Dam 40 years ago, let nobody say it is a state government project. To date, it is not completed, euphemism for the dam not being built. The Nigerian dam was to be two and a half times the size of the Lagdo dam, meant to supply electricity to surrounding States. Dasin would have been able to accommodate whatever came from Lagdo.

When Cameroun tells us it is releasing water from Lagdo, the message is simple – get your Dasin ready. It is not their fault that there is no Dasin.

Read also: Flooding in times of electioneering

The 2012 floods in Nigeria began in early July 2012, killed 363 people and displaced over 2.1 million people as of 5 November 2012. Earth Observatory quoting Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, said 30 of Nigeria’s 36 States were affected by the floods, termed the worst in 40 years, and affected an estimated total of seven million people. The estimated damage and losses caused by the floods were N2.6 trillion.

Nothing was done. The government set up a group Aliko Dangote led to raise money for the victims. In one night almost N16 billion was raised. Dangote was to explain that some pledges were not redeemed. Whatever was raised was shared across States, and federal agencies. The story ended.

Whatever else was done?

Director of Dams in the Ministry of Water Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Adanu, told Environews Nigeria after the 2012 flood that “It is now imperative for the Federal Government to build a bumper dam to cushion the effect of water released by Lagdo Dam. We are already taking steps to do the construction and we have started looking at how we can improve on the old design. The size of the dam we are looking at will take us 36 months to finish it but right now we know that the original feasibility study that was done in 1982 is a bit outdated.”

In 10 years of doing nothing the floods get worse. Reports from Bayelsa which has the lowest points in Nigeria indicate that places that had never been flooded are under water this time. Next year we would still shout about floods and blame Cameroun that managed its situation 40 years ago.

The 2022 floods are more intense than 2012’s. The major difference could be that fewer States are involved this year. Does the government even care? Will it ever care?

We already have a closure on the 2022 floods. Honourable Minister of Water Resources Suleiman Adamu blames the Almighty mightily for the floods and humans a little. Lagdo Dam does not flood Nigeria. We would not build a dam. What is going is not an emergency necessitating any further action, he said.

Case closed. Since the matter is the Almighty’s, who has not stopped the rains, who builds no dams, who has given us great governments, we should flood our churches and mosques with supplications to the Almighty.

The Almighty will treat our case as exceptional and not like Cameroun that built a dam without consulting the Almighty. Thanks very much Honourable Minister. We are different.

Finally…

IF there is any way you can assist flood victims, please do. Their situation is horrendous.

.Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues

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