FLOODING is a natural occurrence. In civilised parts of the world, one of the jobs of government is to evolve systems of taming routine and predictable flooding to keep the people safe.
When routine flooding keeps occurring year after year, it means that government is not living up to its duty.
That is the situation that Nigerians living along the pathways of our major rivers, lakes and other flood-prone water bodies, suffer every year.
States and communities inhabiting the Niger and Benue troughs and the Niger Delta area experience avoidable flooding due to the failure of government.
This year’s episode has been so pathetic. Nigeria’s Confluence Town, Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, is under water. Transportation between North and South through the state is disrupted because the federal highways are under water.
Commuters are going through indescribable suffering. Many spend between seven and 10 days on the road from Kogi State to Abuja and other parts of the North.
The flooding has claimed the lives of 76 people in Anambra. Homes are overtaken by floods in Niger, Kogi, Adamawa, Benue, Anambra, Rivers and Bayelsa states.
Nigerians have been hit by the double tragedies of losing their homes and farmlands. When the flood recedes, these victims will be left to start life all over again until the next flood comes.
The primary purpose of government is to provide the people with adequate welfare and security. When will government wake to its responsibilities? When will the authorities begin to fulfill their own side of the social contract?
It is the duty of government to channelise river pathways, routinely dredge them to allow more water travel within its natural bed, provide embankments, dykes and platforms to guard against overflow into human settlements, and harness the resources of these waterbodies for the people’s benefits.
It is government’s duty to turn these river resources from pain to gain.
Additionally, it is the job of government to provide temporary shelters for the people when the floods are imminent. Government should not only be engaged in the Nigerian Metrology Agency, NIMET’s, routine warnings about the oncoming floods. Governments are fond of warning people to “relocate to higher grounds”. In truth, majority of the people have nowhere to go.
We have for years called for the collaboration of the federal and state governments along with public spirited capable individuals to build permanent shelters in all the flood-prone parts of the country where people can go and be safe until disaster situations return to normalcy.
Hapless Nigerians who are increasingly exposed to insecurity arising from armed attacks and flooding need to have a place to go and be safe and catered for until they can safely return home.
It is irresponsible and inhuman to abandon the same people that vote politicians into power when they need government help.