The high death toll from 2022 floods

The disclosure by the federal government that 612 persons have been killed while 1.4 million Nigerians were displaced as a result floods in some parts of the country is mind boggling. This is especially so given the fact that the nation is still battling with insecurity that has left thousands of people dead, many displaced and millions of naira property destroyed.

Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, who disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly FEC meeting in Abuja, last week, said 154 locations with transport infrastructure worth N80 billion have been impaired or damaged as a result of the floods.

“First of all, let us be clear, this is not a Nigerian unique problem. We see this all over the world. It’s a human issue. At least let us dimension that whether it was in Pakistan, Florida, this early warnings were issued some people left, some people didn’t leave. There are human issues.

“So, let’s just understand, first of all, it is a human issue and let us not situate it as a Nigerian problem. Now, also realise that there are levels of government involved here.

“There is a federal government, there is a state government, there are 36 of them. And there are 774, local governments, those places relating to who builds where, who sets up the house, of course, are local planning issues that are not the responsibility of the federal government.

“As my colleague in water resources has said, one of the things his ministry has done is to share the Flood Warning System. It is a big, pro marker that shows that when water reaches this level, you’re safe, if it gets to the yellow level is a warning to run.

“Those are some of the things government does. And it doesn’t mean everybody will relocate.

“But as we speak here, some people did not relocate, some might have. But the job we have to do now is to bring relief to those who are impacted. That’s our job now.

“So, recriminating about what happened yesterday, doesn’t solve the problem. And what we have come to brief you about the steps being taken to make life livable, easy for the survivors, to commiserate with those who have lost people and property and to plan a way to make life better for tomorrow.

“What we have lost yesterday is gone. Let’s stop recriminating about it. And let’s focus on how we can ensure that we’re in a better position today and tomorrow and beyond,” he said.

Also speaking, the Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, said it would take 30 years of consistent investment to control the menace. He affirmed that nobody can stop the phenomenon in the country.

He said despite the early warning system in place, a lot of capital intensive initiatives remain to be done in future to avert the consequences of flood disasters.

He said it is not something that can be achieved under one administration, stressing that the present administration is already working on a flood management masterplan that would take at least three months to complete.

While stressing that flood victims ignored warnings to evacuate, the minister also blamed tree felling and degraded soil for the massive impact of this year’s floods in the country.

On criticism over government’s preparedness to handle flood emergency, the minister said: “There is no technology on Earth, none that can tell you the extent of the floods, none whatsoever. You work on the basis of data that you have before.

“Now that the rains have come that is what hydrology is all about, this is a record and now we’re resetting the clock.

“So that our future plans will now consider that this is the historical catastrophic level that we will not account for. That is what engineering does. This has never happened before.”

Also speaking, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Mrs Sadiya Umar Farouk, said the federal government was adequately prepared for the disaster.

The National Committee on Diseases and Pandemic Awareness of the Nigerian Medical Association has urged all levels of government to take action to stop the potential emergence of epidemics in the wake of the nation’s disastrous flooding.

The NMA National Committee on Epidemics and Pandemic Awareness called on governments to provide portable water to the affected communities. The Chairman, Dr. Abubakar Hassan, and the Secretary, Dr. Enejo Joseph, in a statement in Lokoja, Kogi state, stated that the bodies of water in these areas were severely polluted and unfit for consumption.

Although, the flood disaster is a natural phenomenon, it is heart warming that the federal government’s response in providing immediate relief materials to the victims and expediting action on the dredging of River Niger were quite holistic in addressing the crisis. While we commend the federal government’s initiative, we urge that the government should be more proactive on issues of this nature, especially when it is privy to early warnings.

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