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The age of flood and natural disasters(1)

By Dele Sobowale
“Failures are divided into two classes; those who thought and never did and those who did and never thought”.John Charles Salak

Hitherto Nigerians thanked God for not visiting any natural disasters on our country; at least not on the scale other nations have experienced. There have been no tsunamis, no hurricanes with winds traveling at 240 mph; no volcanoes and no significant earthquake.

But, starting from last year, some of us were already warning those who cared to listen that our baptism by water was about to begin and with it many ruined lives and properties will literally get washed down the rivers in Nigeria.

When, this year’s series of disasters started in the north in Sokoto and Kebbi states and spread to other parts of the north, city dwellers in Lagos and its suburbs in Ogun State felt unconcerned.

Today, not only are vast areas of Lagos metropolis and Ogun under water, with more to come, the experience this years portends the beginning of several years of heavy downpour and rising water levels that will submerge a lot of our coastal lands and claim several million hectares of land previously untouched by floods nationwide.

Two years ago, after conducting a long environmental survey, I embarked on my own modern day equivalent of constructing a “Noah’s Ark”; except that this time, it was constructing a mini-canal around my country home around which passes the tributary of a river.

At great cost to myself, and to the amusement of my neighbours, who were advised to do the same, I constructed a high perimeter wall, and fortified its base with granite, iron rods and cement. The Local government should have done it; but they don’t care.

I also started to burn a lot of refuse, especially pure water satchets and other packaging materials which traditionally blocked the waterways. My neighbours shook their heads. Some thought I had really gone round the bend and would soon need a straight jacket.

As one of them said “well you know journalists and Americanas are funny people”. Last year, the rains were relatively moderate. And the neighbours really laughed hilariously.

“Where is the flood?” They asked. God knows, I have got in trouble several times before through being incurably stubborn. I reckoned this time, being pig-headed might eventually payoff; otherwise the straight jacket might actually be procured. It did.

Today, the only one laughing in the entire community is, you guessed it, “Noah”. Virtually everybody else had been ruined by water levels such as nobody alive has ever experienced. Now the questions everybody is asking is “How did you know and why didn’t you shout loud enough?” You can’t beat Nigerians for shifting blame.

Concerning blame shifting, everybody, from the people affected, to the governments, especially of Ogun and Lagos, as well as the managers of the dams, particularly Oyan Dam, has been blaming everybody else while discharging and acquitting themselves. I expected that.

Yet, everybody has contributed in  some way to the disaster. And to solve the problem, which should have been anticipated and tackled two or three years ago, the governments are considering DEMOLITION; just as the government of Rivers is threatening to do.

This time, no Dame Jonathan has told a public servant to “go and wash your mouth with soap” for making that horrible proclamation.

So, let me on behalf of those likely to be affected, state categorically that no governor who has some feeling will consider demolition first; it must be the absolutely last option since they failed to act preemptively in the first instance – and that includes Governor Fashola; who admittedly had performed excellently over all. But, he too, had blown this one. Well, he is only human.

The Presido: This is the reason why the CBN should appoint external auditors for these banks to monitor their books which they cook always. The monitoring should be on a half year basis. These banks are just armed robbers in suits. ……”.

Poor fellow, he should enroll in UniJankara. Then he would have known that CBN staff were there in the kitchen cooking the books with the “guys and girls” in designer suits.

One day, I will write a piece on “CBN Bank Inspectors and Bank Fraud”; just to teach the fellow a free lesson in Nigerian banking practices. Asking CBN to appoint bank auditors is akin to asking a cat to manage a fish store. Forget that jo.

But that is an aside. Let me finish what was started last week and we can move on. My comments on the impact of Mrs Ibru’s conviction on “the church which ordained her and an illustrious family” were dropped on account of space limitation. Here they go.

Pentecostal churches and their emphasis on success without adequate stress on integrity have accorded a lot of dubious characters the titles of Deacons and Deaconesses.

They also refer to all their members as “children of God”. Well, if a “child of God” filches N191bn  of other people’s money, what is “a son of the devil” supposed to do? Steal the CBN?

“In every community, there is a class of people profoundly dangerous to the rest. I don’t mean the criminals. For them we have punitive sanctions. I mean the leaders. Invariably, the most dangerous people seek power”.

Saul Bellow, 1976 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature.
Now that the JTF has taken control of security in Abia State, the new champion for kidnapping is, unquestionably, Akwa Ibom State. For the past five months, I have made several trips to the state, just as I did to Abia before filing my report published last two weeks.

Akwa Ibom has now returned to the Stone Age in terms of personal security. Hardly a day ends without one person being snatched; sometimes more. One metric for judging the security in any state is the night life.

Up to May 2007, one could go night crawling in Uyo until 3.00 a.m; I know I did. Today, nobody is safe –even in broad day light. The night economy in the state, which for most modern cities contributes about 20% of the GDP and provides about 15% of employment, has disappeared.

If you have a sudden heart attack in Akwa Ibom at 10.00 pm, there will be no taxi to convey you to hospital and no hospital will open its doors even if you get there. Welcome to Uyo 2010.If you dare to go!!!



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