Beyond the colonial era, our dear country has suffered recurring cycles of flooding. From 1960 till date the situation has only gotten worse. We may never come to realise it but floods have done more damages to the populace than the dreaded Boko haram sect. The reasons why we seem not to find the solution is not far-fetched. When we fail to do our part, showers become disastrous. Nigerians should learn to see floods as being avertible and not as punishment from above.
The story has not been a happy one in recent years. From east to the west and even up north, floods continue to ravage many towns. Its causes are many; we should watch who we point fingers at.
Nigerians are too accustomed to blaming the government that they fail to see their own flaws. We go the extra mile to suborn government officials in a bid to build houses outside the housing plan. We block drainages and use river banks for refuse dumps. When would we learn to plan for times ahead?
It is sad; it’s all on the pages of our national dallies. “Floods sack residents of highbrow Ikoyi, Victoria Island” (The , July 3rd 2011). “Flooding in Central Nigeria leaves at least 35 dead” (20th September 2012). “Flood kills nine month-old baby, displaced 12,000 people in Cross River” (Daily Trust, 20th September 2012). “Floods: Residents count losses as canoe operators rake money” (The Punch, October 7th 2010). “Flood: Sokoto Council evacuates 6,000 residents” (Daily Times, August 26th 2011). And many more stories that go unread.
It is time for Nigerians to get their priority right. A substantial proportion of the populace perishes each year as a result of these “waters of fury”. Boko haram has claimed a little over 10,000 lives since it began business, but flood has done even worse. Corruption has left many poor but floods have left many dead or homeless. The rate of unemployment is quite high, but flood is also a factor that could speed it up. The damage done by flooding also affects the spending power of the government. The little that they give to the common people to improve their standard of living is diverted to repairing damaged infrastructure. It has also affected the educational system as activities hibernate in submerged schools.
The solutions to our problems lie within our reach. The One who made the universe created it balanced, but we have proven to be too wise and have caused an imbalance. The building of houses along the river course, incessant felling of trees, blocking of drainages and dumping of refuse along river banks should be strongly prohibited.
I would also like to cite the Netherlands experience. This European country is twelve times smaller than Nigeria and is practically located inside water. But since the storm that hit the country, which claimed about 1,836 victims, they have learnt from the aftermath of that deluge. Now they boast of a disaster control project that can cope with flooding for hundreds of years to come.
Indeed we really need to take this up as a national issue. We should stop leaving our lives in the hands of an inefficient government. It would be good to see private organisations take up this challenge. Many times it comes like a thief at night, but we should remember that even a thief walks, he does not fly; if we are at alert we would notice. We should start planning for the next flood now, because for now it would always come. The attitude of the government can be compared to a father who buys a lot of malaria drugs for his family but fails to procure mosquito nets and good covering for the windows and doors. He has the cure but does not believe in its prevention. We are tired of our government giving us palliatives and relieve materials for a disaster that is avertible Elsewhere, when the rains cease to stop nothing goes wrong, but in Nigeria when the rains cease to stop, lives and properties are lost.