RAVAGING FLOOD; NOT ACT OF GOD BUT WILL OF MAN
By; Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
God gave us a brain so that we can give him rest- T.D Jakes, American author, filmmaker and Bishop of The Potter’s House, a non-denominational American mega church.
It is now common knowledge that Floods have hit parts of Nigeria in the last two months with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) saying that about 2.5 million persons were affected and over 603 persons killed by the flooding. It is equally a pedestrian information that within this period, Houses and farmlands have been submerged in Lagos, Yobe, Borno, Taraba, Adamawa, Edo, Delta, Kogi, Niger, Plateau, Benue, Ebonyi, Anambra, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Jigawa, Zamfara, Kebbi, Sokoto, Imo, Abia States, and the Federal Capital Territory.
Speaking in absolute terms, flood is a natural disaster.
A natural disaster going by information available at Wikipedia, a global information power horse, is “the negative impact following an actual occurrence of natural hazard in the event that it significantly harms a community”. A natural disaster can cause loss of life or damage property, and typically leaves some economic damage in its wake. It includes events such as a flood, earthquake, or hurricane that causes great damage or loss of life’.
While Wikipedia’s intention for classifying flood as natural disaster is understandable and commendable, some questions immediately come to mind as to whether the current flood in Nigeria ravaging communities, villages and towns, truly qualifies as an act of God/ natural disaster?
In applied sense of the word, it cannot in all honesty, be qualified as a natural disaster/Act of God any more despite the fact that it has taken a great toll on Nigeria and its economy,
Aside from the lackadaisical attitude so far displayed by both past and present Governments, the above opinion is predicated on the mountains of early warning sign which ought to have activated some remedial measures, but was not hearkened to by any of the tiers of government.
In 2012 for example, when the flood of similar magnitude and volume first occurred, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ), as he then was, during a visit to flood victims in Lagos, promised to create an artificial/dry lake to contend with future surge in flood.
As at the time of leaving office in May 2015 (that was 3 years after the promise was made), not even a pit was dug.
Between 2015 and now, President Muhammadu Buhari who succeeded former President Jonathan did next to nothing to resolve the issue of flooding in the country which has become ‘word made flesh and now dwells among us’.
Let’s assume that he (Buhari) lacks the needed leadership creative prowess to generate ideas in this direction, one should have expected him to at the very least implement/execute the proposed Dam in Adamawa state as suggested years ago to take care of flood eventualities. After all, leadership is continuum. There is also a saying that if you cannot create, copy!
The truth is that we failed as a nation in all these directions, and today, we still describe the flood as an unexpected occurrence.
Looking at this phenomenon, and other litany of neglects and leadership failures, I refuse to share from that belief system
Referencing T.D. Jakes, God gave us brains to solve our problems so that we can allow him time to rest’.
But instead of doing the needful, we fail on our responsibility as a nation and attribute the same failure to God. What is happening today is totally, squarely and completely leadership failure. It is a sign of absence of foresighted leadership in the country. It tells a story of people that poor leadership has drained their rational will-a nation devoid of proactive leadership but filled with sets of reactors masquerading as leaders.
Most fundamentally, the inability of the government to manage the ongoing flood further serve as a proof that ‘poverty of our leaders certainly does not mean material poverty, but lack of commitment to duty, lack of vision and greediness characterized by corruption’. That is the only possible explanation.
If not poor leadership, how do we explain the fact that each year, the three tiers of government periodically gathers to share the National Ecological Funds and yet, cannot tackle the issue that is as simple as flood?
For a better understanding of the argument, Ecological fund was established in 1981 through the Federation Account Act 1981, on the recommendation of the Okigbo Commission, Decree 36 of 1984 and 106 of 1992 as well as the allocation of Federation Account modification order of 2002 subsequently modified the act. The prime objective of this initiative was to have a pool of fund that would be solely devoted to the funding of ecological projects to ameliorate serious ecological problems nationwide.
This is at variance with the practice elsewhere in the world where funds are set aside especially for natural disaster.
In the United State for example, there are at least four major pieces of Federal Legislations enacted for this purpose; the water quality Act of 1965, the water Pollution Control Act and its amendment of 1972(PL92 500), the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1976 (PL 94 800), The Toxic Substance Control Act of 1983 (PL 94 469) and Comprehensive Environmental Response. Compensation and Labiality Act of 1983 (CERCLA) (PL96 510).
This law all make provision for funding and other facilities for the protection, monitoring and remediation of polluted aquifer. The funds are additional to the existing periodic statutory allocation to the United Environmental Protection Agency and are also readily accessible to local governments and individuals.
Looking at the above explanation, it will elicits the question as to; why is ecological fund not readily available for use in a period such as this?
As the flood rages, the question that is important as the flood itself is; what is the nation doing to prepare for the next one because we know that it will happen again in the nearest future?