Flood Disaster: Toll increases to 612 ---FG - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Flood Disaster: Toll increases to 612 ---FG


The Federal Government on Wednesday said that the number of death recorded as a result of the devastating flood ravaging the country has risen to 612

The government also said in about 154 places so far  identified that were affected by the flood it requires over N80 billion to repair the infrastructures in the affected areas.

This is as the government has said that there is no technology to dictate natural disaster and even blamed the people in the areas for not heeding to the early warnings of the impending disaster since February this year.

Already, the government said that relief materials have been delivered to 22 states, while the Nigerian Air Force would help to airlift the relief materials to Rivers and Bayelsa states where means of transportation to deliver the materials have been a problem.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq said 3,219,780 persons were affected and 1,427,370 persons displaced.

She further said that the impact analysis summary of the flood disaster as at 21st October, 2022 showed that 2,776 persons were injured, 181,600 houses partially damaged, 123,807 houses completely damaged as well as 392,399 farmlands totally damaged, adding that all these sadly took place, "despite early warnings and actions coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development."

The Minister further said, "The Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and agencies under the supervision as well as relevant MDA's including Ministry of Water Resources, Health, Agriculture and local and humanitarian actors in the country are ramping up activities as stipulated in the recent FEC approved National Food Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan, NFEPRP, with a view of providing emergency protection and assistance as well as building their resilience to cope and recover from the situation.

"The FMHADMSD and NEMA are now focused on two strategies on the response phase: search and rescue operations and the provision of lifesaving emergency relief materials for victims."

She said that the search and rescue efforts covered 25 states, 199 local government areas and 1020 communities.

According to her, "Supply of specialized equipment including motorized and inflatable boats to Bayelsa and Kogi states for the purposes of search, rescue, recoceries and evacuation."

Also speaking, the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, said it will take 30 years of consistent investment to control flood menace. 

The Minister also said that nobody can stop the phenomenon in the country and that government can only minimize the impact of the occurrence. 

He said, "There is no technology on earth, none that can tell you the extent of the floods, none whatsoever. You work on the basis of data that you have before. 

"Now that the rains have come that is what hydrology is all about, this is a record and now we're resetting the clock. So that our future plans will now consider that this is the historical catastrophic level that we will not account for, that is what engineering does. This has never happened before."

He also said despite the early warning system in place, a lot of capital intensive initiatives remain to be done in future to avert the consequences of flood disasters.

Suleiman said that it is not something that can be achieved under one administration alone.

Fielding question on why the country has not deemed it necessary to destil the rivers, he said, "When you talk about destilting a river, you see people talk about destilting as if it's the normal destilting of a well. 

"When you talk about destilting a river, you are talking of billions of cubic meters of earth or soil or sand. To start with, where do you deposit it? And i can tell you the level of the economy of the country, cannot support that kind of thing at this point in time. But there are natural base solutions. 

"One of the key things we can do just simple planting of trees, catchment management will reduce the problem. There are rivers that we were able to descend right now as I'm talk to you farther down eastern parts of the Jigawa state into Yobe state we have been opening river channels on River Hadeja all the way down to Kamadugu Yobe linking into Chad. 

"That is possible for some rivers. For a river like river Niger, you need much more than that you need what we call river training. That is not only an expensive venture, but it's also a long term venture."

He said the present administration is already working on a flood management masterplan that will take at least three years to complete.

"And what we're trying to do at this point in time under this administration is to prepare at least initiate the preparation of that masterplan. 

"The study alone to prepare that Masterplan will take a minimum of three years by our estimate, like I mentioned in my report, just dealing with river Niger and Benue alone, this river training that we're talking will include dredging to provide an irrigational channel and also creating banks or levies on the banks to protect shore protection to prepare to prevent against flooding, just a rule of funds estimate that we did, it will cost about $14 billion and it will take years to implement."

While noting that flood victims ignored warnings to evacuate, Suleiman also blamed tree felling and degraded soil for the massive impact of this year's floods in the country. 

Also speaking, the Minister of Works and Housing,  Babatunde Fashola, absolved federal government from blame for not providing temporary shelters for citizens in vulnerable flood plains who said they had nowhere to go.

According to him, it is the responsibility of states and local governments to do that.

He said from initial assessment, his ministry has identified 154 places where transport infrastructure worth N80 billion is impared or damaged by the recent floods in parts of the country. 

Fashola stated: "You see, first of all, let us be clear, this is not in Nigerian, unique problem. We see this all over the world. It's a human issue. At least let us dimension that whether it was in Pakistan, Florida, this early warnings were issued. Some people left, some people didn't leave.There are human issues. 

"So, let's just understand, first of all, is a human issue and let us not situate it as a Nigerian problem. Now, also realize that there are levels of government involved here. There is a federal government, there is a state government, there are 36 of them. And there are 774, local governments, those places relating to who builds where, who sets up the house, of course are local planning issues that are not the responsibility of the federal government.

"Those are some of the things government does. And it doesn't mean everybody will relocate. 

"But as we speak here, some people didn't not relocate, some might have. But the job we have to do now is to bring relief to those who are impacted. That's our job now. 

"So, recriminating about what happened yesterday, doesn't solve the problem. And what we have come  to brief you about the steps being taken to make life livable, easy for the survivors, to commiserate with those who have lost people and property and to plan a way to make life better for tomorrow. 

"What we have lost yesterday is gone. Let's stop recriminating about it. And let's focus on how we can ensure that we're in a better position today and tomorrow and beyond."

On his side, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, "You see, I think we should be very broad minded and open minded about this issue. 

"I watched and I'm sure many of you watched on television, how two thirds of Pakistan was underwater because of this flood. If you watched like I did, how Florida was unable to handle this matter. 

"You see, it is not a humanitarian affair or an APC affair, is a human affair, an environmental disaster. And I did not see any country that can prepare adequately, especially when citizens refuse to cooperate. 

"As far back as February, NIMET, warned everybody. People have built across channels. They've built on villages, they violated at will the planning regulations. Now disaster now comes and you say water resources was not ready, humanitarian affairs was not ready and even information was already. 

"You see, let's face it, what is happening today is happening all over the world. Let's join hands together with all government at every level, with all NGOs and private sector. 

"This is a human affair, it is a disaster, which does not make a difference between one party or the other, or one part of the country or the other. As we speak today, about five local governments out of seven in Bayelsa is under the water. 

"And like the Honorable Minister has said, we are receiving four times the amount of rain that we have ever received in the history of this nation. So please, don't let us think the solution is blaming government. Let’s  please be objective in our assessment and understanding of the issue at hand."

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