The 2022 seasonal flooding experienced in Nigeria is unprecedented, with colossal losses caused by destructive submerging of people’s homes; it damaged farmlands and claimed a large number of precious lives through drowning. It surpassed the impact of the floods recorded ten years earlier, in 2012. This natural disaster, regrettably, affected 34 out of the 36 states and the federal capital of Abuja, where over 600 lives were lost, many homes displaced with over 1.4 million people affected; injuring more than 2,400 people, with farmlands destroyed along with planted cash crops that were washed away, which amounted to losses worth billions of naira.
This horrific and most unfortunate natural catastrophe currently facing millions of Nigerians, especially the country’s vulnerable masses and the less privileged in the affected communities that have been ravaged by overflowing water, caused by excessive rainfalls in the month of September, now have most of the internally displaced persons quartered at various make-shift emergency camps or internally displaced persons camps (IDPs) that are scattered all over the country. Some opinion movers (even some highly placed political leaders in the land) have beckoned on the federal government to declare a state of emergency in the affected places.
The governments (from federal to the local levels) are expected to be responsive and intervene by coming to the aid of the affected flood victims; being part of their primary responsibilities on governance, as sworn to by oath on assumption of office (to “protect lives and property”). One of the current candidates campaigning for the office of the President in the coming 2023 elections suspended his campaigns and personally visited some of the flooded communities across the country. He also made some personal donations to the affected people in distress (the flood victims) in those communities. Such action taken by him is a highly commendable gesture (worthy of emulation by others in political leadership). That exemplary step is seen by the general public as bringing succor, a rising hope, and morale booster for the victims in distress. It is also an opportunity for the entire citizenry to be aware of such kindness, equally appreciate with an assurance that their expectations from the hands of those in authority (the political leaders in the country) are protected, and would be met to a reasonable extent, if not all.
There is actually, no doubt that the flooding has consequently ushered in potential economic hardship, pains of poverty and hunger in the land ( which will be waiting to explode and manifest in the society, in no distant time). Such anticipated challenges that are obvious and bound to befall the citizenry within the economy in the coming months, require that the government should proactively prepare buffer measures and solutions ahead of time to counter, checkmate and mitigate any imminent exacerbating adverse economic impact, as being anticipated. Such preparedness by a caring government in the land would go a long way as socially responsible characteristics, indicative of good and visionary governance, imbued with compassion and empathy by the ruling authority, for such flood-ravaged victims that are presently in momentous anguish and grief.
Another mind boggling situation and disturbing issue is the manner of high level corruption manifesting in public administration among the officers in charge (both in the career service and among the political class). Some of these insensitive and heartless individuals (‘bad eggs’) might seize the current painful situation, as an opportunity to get rich overnight, by diverting relief materials (donated and meant for the IDP camps, which may be worth hundreds of millions of naira) to unknown locations. Such individuals would never think of or bother about the wellbeing of those unfortunate victims of the natural disaster that are in very pitiable conditions. Some of them who are smallholder farmers (in most pathetic cases and unfortunate circumstances) fall into very difficult moments and challenging situations, by having their farms cultivated that season with borrowed money from banks (huge amounts in some cases, who had hoped to escape from abject poverty into wealth after they might have completed a successful cycle of the particular season) but are now caught up in a web with their farms completely washed away. Such incidences may end up in driving the faithless personalities in such hopeless situation to consider committing suicide. No one prays that such calamity would befall him because, some end up being recluse all the rest of their lives, after such painful encounters.
One great opportunity available through the people in authority (especially within Nigeria) is to latch on the available windows of achieving positive results on the climate change mitigation against such natural disasters (the likes of flooding) in the forthcoming United Nations Summit (COP27) this November in Egypt, to effectively contribute on articulating likely economic policies for energy transition that would impact reasonably on the climate change actions that are indigenous to the African environment.
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