By Denrele Animashaun
“I am pessimistic about the human race because it is too ingenious for its own good. Our approach to nature is to beat it into submission. We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively instead of sceptically and dictatorially.” — E.B. White
On the 18th of August, what should have been a day out with families and friends for some people celebrating the Eid el-Fitri at Kuramo Beach in Lagos, according to eye witnesses, turned out to be a sorrowful experience as ocean waves rose to engulf those within its reach. It swept away some people, including 11 passengers in a boat and day trippers near the shores.
As the toll of the dead and the missing totes up , it slowly became more of recovery of bodies than search and rescue mission. At some point,it should dawn on all, that nature in all its magnificence, will act according to its cycle, not ours. There has to be some reverence that the environment is given priority, maintenance and sustainability. Only then, can fatalities be reduced as safety become a necessity and not an option.
This may sound contentious but time, and time again the number of victims of flooding has become sadly, a common place. Already, about one hundred people have died in Jos, and six local government areas in Plateau State were affected. Also, parts of Bauchi, Benue and Nasiriya are facing loss of lives and property from flooding. Where were the sea rescue boats, helicopters, or the paramedics, no one to pick up those in shock or have lost their loved ones.
If the last series of disaster is anything to go by, the Jos flooding,the deluge that extended to Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Ogun, Cross Rivers, Gombe, Kano and Jigawa, it was as predicted by Nigerian Meteorological Agency(NIMET). And the latest must have construction for the rich that they can do whatever they like; construction of high end luxurious home in Eko Atlantic city. I mean, Atlantic is the name! that’s an ocean and we know what happened to the city of Atlantics, don’t we? This development by the sea may have exacerbated the level of discharge and the ferocity of the tidal wave than usual.
I witnessed the power of nature and its devastating effects, first hand, about thirty five years ago, in Ibadan, when the river Ogunpa broke its banks. The morning after,we returned (my grandmother had a business in the area) and saw bloated bodies, properties strewn all over the place.
One image that remained permanently etched in my memory was the body of a mother with her baby on her back. Everywhere you looked, building snapped to bits like matchsticks,vehicles washed up and in strange places. As usual, the diviner is called out and he proclaimed that indeed the River god, Ogunpa, was angry and needed appeasement. The divinities were a way of explaining natural disasters. This happens a lot and the reality simply is that nature does what nature does.
The NIMET recently predicted that several cities in Nigeria would be affected by flooding if ‘proper measures’ were not taken. But who gets the warning and does it permeate to the appropriate areas and nearby services. Do we have early warnings in place, is there an educational programme in schools, faith groups where such education can be filtered through the society?
Do we have visual aids like flags to warn people of choppy seas, leaflets handed out to beach users warning of dangers and precautions. Where were the life guards, and is there a way information of weather forecast used to inform those in the know so that affected areas can be evacuated early? How do we evacuate in such crisis?
Or should the National Emergency Management Agency be a stand-alone in time of such disasters and loss of human lives? Should the public be left to their devises to fight for their lives? What are the roles of the Federal Ministries of Environment and Water Resources?
Nigeria must value its people, there should be some joint up thinking and multi-agency working and it be given equal priority as part of the National security protection plan.The Lagos State government did deploy Policemen to cordon off the Kuramo beach, executing the Lagos State Government’s order to forcefully eject people from the area. Lagos officials capitalised on the incidents to demolish several homes and small businesses owned by poor people by blaming them for the tragic ocean storm. That’s too little, too late to close the stable door long after the horse has bolted.
The Golden Age of enlightenment.
“The people who live in a golden age usually go around complaining how yellow everything looks”- Randall Jarrell
When things go wrong as they usually do, in our case, we have a way of blaming some malevolent forces. So it is no surprise that one traditional chief in Badagry Local Government Area in Lagos State, Possu Awarawuru, has identified the advent of foreign religions as the bane of the country’s social problems. Mr Awarawuru made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday before the last in Badagry during this year’s anniversary of the ancient town.
“Before the coming of Christianity and Islam, our fore-fathers worshipped in their traditions and the society was peaceful and crime-free,” he said at the festival with the theme “Reconnecting with the Root. ”
He explained that before the coming of the two religions, Nigerians had their traditional religions and were guided by the values, morals and various injunctions, laid down by the divinities.
According to him, without the two religions, the society will be crime-free, since traditional religious worshipers don’t chase materialism.
No surprise there then, we have failed to act in a way that will help our society, exported religions have nothing to with it. When we were growing up, it was instilled from an early age how to distinguish right from wrong, to act in a way not to tarnish your image and our families. To tell the truth, help our communities, we were told that we had to work very hard and to reap rewards.
Education, training and trade had a purpose and pride of place in our culture. We have become morally vacuous, would do anything for money, prestige and adulation is misplaced, the undeserving can buy titles, officials, posts and academic achievements. Corruption and living life on the fast lanes seem to be de riguer and we blame our departure from our traditional religions on our social ills.
Some reality checks please. We have failed to live up to our moral codes and values that was instilled in our cultures. We, the people are responsible and it’s about time we admitted that we all are collectively culpable, responsible for the state that our country is in . Let’s stop acting the victim here, this decline is self inflicted. It has nothing to do with traditional or foreign religions .