The flood calamity ravaging several states in the country warrants the declaration of a state of emergency in the affected areas. By the estimation of some experts, this is the worst flood disaster ever to ravage the country. In some of the states particularly Kogi, Anambra, Bayelsa, Plateau, Delta, Benue and Oyo States whole communities have virtually been wiped out. Houses, farmlands and other properties have been submerged with billions of naira lost to the rampaging flood. There is nothing as painful as becoming a refugee in one’s own land. And that is now the fate of most of the inhabitants of the states that have tasted the bitter pill of the elements. They now live in hurriedly earmarked refugee camps while they depend on handouts from government and some charity organizations for daily sustenance. But their own situation is better as a few of their compatriots have either drowned in the waters or succumbed to illnesses caused by the unsanitary conditions which the flood engendered.
Those reeling under the effects of this unprecedented ecological disaster can count on the support of Dr Goodluck Jonathan, the President of the Federal Republic. It is reassuring that the President has chosen not only to identify with the victims at their moments of needs, but he has also taken decisive steps to cushion and mitigate the effects of the disaster. If the truth must be told, giving the scale of the flooding and the comprehensive damage caused in some of the affected communities, it is beyond what the states government can handle. The federal government itself needs internal and external help to remedy the situation. And President Jonathan simply acknowledged this fact when he spoke to the nation and outlined the road map designed by his administration to manage the disaster. He has taken the right steps by outlining different measures to curtail the disasters and its effects. The main step taken by Mr. President is the release of N19.6 Billion to the affected states which would be shared based on the scale of the flooding and the disaster recorded in their affected communities. The worst hit states will get N500Million while the least affected will get N200Million. The sharing formula was not done haphazardly but based on the recommendation of the impact assessment committee set up by Mr. President when the disaster first hit our land.
And to ensure that it does not end there Jonathan also set up a National Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation with eminent Nigerians including Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Olisa Agbakoba and Chief Mike Adenuga. Apparently the setting up of the committee is to put in place some form of continuous funding for the relief effort beyond the initial money the government had put on the table. The business moguls will help in mobilizing funds which would come in handy during the process of post flood rehabilitation and resettlement of the victims. Certainly the victims need all the help they can get from Nigeria’s private and public sector and even beyond the shores of the country.
Before turning to the shining lights of corporate Nigeria, Mr. President through relevant agencies had worked behind the scene to give relief to the victims. The federal government released of N1.24 billion to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, the ministry of Environment got N95 Million and N556 Million went to the ministry of works. The money according to the president was spent on sundry relief materials, immediate palliative measures and to repair damage roads and reconstruct bridges and create bye pass in some critically affected areas. The president also said the ministry of works will get additional N2.6billion, NEMA ,N1.1Billion , the ministry of environment N250million, National Commission for Refugees N150 million and the technical committee on flood impact assessment N100Million . The monies are to help in consolidating the relief efforts put in place when the disaster first struck. All these are short term measures. Mr. President has assured the nation that after the submission of the report of the assessment team which is still combing states affected by the flood, the government will initiate medium and long term measures to checkmate the rampaging flood and avoid a similar disaster in the future.
It is at a period like this that we know the real substance of a leader. Leaders who look the other way when their people are undergoing harrowing experiences are not worthy to be so called. And those who revel in public relations stunts through token interventions to the plight of the people will ultimately have to account to posterity. Dr Jonathan has shown once again that when it comes to the real issues of governance he is well able to show the way and deliver to the satisfaction of the people. Now that the President has shown the way others who have the responsibility of implementing the road map towards mitigating the effects of the flood disaster has outlined by Mr. President must carry out his instructions to the letter. The relief materials must get to real victims and must not be found in the open market. Money given to states should not be diverted to other projects however noble or pressing. The relief from Aso Rock must trickle down to the intended beneficiaries.
The president’s also reminded us of our common humanity when he spoke to the nation. According to him “the humanitarian and compassionate spirit that has been on display in the past few weeks reassures us that at critical moments, Nigerians are able to come together in pursuit of a common purpose”. The truism of the statement is not in doubt. However we should not wait for disaster to happen or for our sportsmen and women to win glory for fatherland before igniting our sense of patriotism. It’s time for Nigerians to also come together and fight the rampaging evil in the land which has led to needless bloodletting in different parts of the country. The killings in the North, the lynching in Port Harcourt, the kidnappings and the waves of crimes across the land must come to an end if we don’t want something worse than the flood disaster to assail our country. Mr. President has told us that he cannot do it alone. He continues to show that
he is a compassionate President that means well for Nigeria. We must all support him to make Nigeria succeed under his watch. Let’s start by sparing a thought for the flood victims.
Adelaja Adebanjo contributed this piece from Ijebu Ode and can be reached via