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Flood victims need urgent respite

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LG Commissioner assures flood victims

FROM Anambra State where many communities in eight local government areas have been overrun by heavy flooding while hundreds of lives have been destroyed, as their means of livelihood such as  farmlands, crops and livestock, the current ravaging floods have  other flashpoints in Kogi, Benue, Delta, Cross River, Rivers,  Bayelsa,  Nassarawa and Adamawa states. In the states, normal daily living has been drowned and submerged in furious, snarling floods. It has been citizens’ tales of agony all the way  as more and more  people get caught up in the avoidable disaster. Apart from being displaced and driven to internally displaced persons (IDP) camps like victims of an unannounced war,  who are left with no choice but to start  life all over again even when the floods recede. But it is not as if flooding is an emerging scourge that just came up to disrupt routine life in Nigeria  this year. It had been there and Nigerians know.

  THE menace of floods has become a staple item on the country’s yearly calendar. The only difference, perhaps since its 2012 version, is that the current flooding is assuming egregious proportions in terms of human and material losses with over 620 lives lost, about 3,000 seriously injured and more than 2,300,000 displaced, as well as over 85,000 houses completely destroyed and nearly 122,000 others partially damaged as at last  Sunday.

  THIS is why it’s not time for buck-passing but indeed time for sparing no effort in addressing the huge plight of Nigerians at the receiving end of the floods. Many factors necessitate  the urgency deserved by the current national emergency. One, the rains are not subsiding yet. Two, nobody knows what will be the outcome of a bilateral interface scheduled next month between Nigeria and Cameroon on the periodic opening of the Lagdo Dam, which no doubt, led to the excess water overflowing banks of rivers and lakes in many states of Nigeria;  ending up in sacking communities around the banks of  River Niger  and River Benue. This presupposes that many more people may yet join the casualty toll in communities already affected and those still to be hit, which adds more trouble to a trouble already getting out of hand.

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  THIS is why all stakeholders, from government at all levels to public spirited individuals,  philanthropists and corporate bodies – including multinationals, operating in Nigeria – and faith-based organisations should rally round to proffer solutions to  the plight of  victims of the floods by coming to their rescue with crucial assistance such as donation of relief materials such as food, medical supplies, bedding and cash  among others. Yes, some governments have started doing something such as converting public facilities like schools, convenient healthcare utilities into holding centres as Anambra has done. Some individuals are making donations too but from experience, this may not be enough as more people evacuate from their communities and homes.  It is time to expect from the teeming number of very religious Nigerians to put teachings of their faiths to practice. The burden is even more compelling for people in Christian denominations who the plights of these unfortunate Nigerians caught up in ongoing flooding should serve as reminder of Jesus’ challenge on His disciples to be their brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. The Biblical injunction: “for I was hungry, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me…” applies here.

  IN DOING so, not only should those taking up the gauntlet give generously to the people in need if only to provide minimal comfort to those waiting for their lifelines in holding centres and camps, those answering the clarion should expand their interventions to meet further emergency that may arise as the current flooding does not appear to be abating. We say this because only providing sufficiently may reduce grumbling among some people who are trapped in their present predicament due to no fault of theirs. Not doing so, conversely, will continue pushing some inmates into preferring to go home even if it means dying there rather than starving in ‘refugee’ camps. But beyond individuals and firms; intervention with relief materials, we also call on National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and its SEMA affiliates in states, as well as Nigerian Metrological Agency (NiMeet), National Orientation Agency (NOA), among others  to intensify awareness and enlightenment campaigns in flood prone areas in order to minimise losses that may come with more flooding. A stitch in time saves nine.

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