• Features
  • Updated: October 26, 2022

Flooding: Buhari's 90 Days Ultimatum, Medicine After Injury

President Mohammadu Buhari, on Monday, directed the Minister of Water Resources to lead and coordinate with the Ministries of Environment and Transportation as well as State Governments to develop a Comprehensive Plan of Action for Preventing Flood Disasters in Nigeria.

The directive which was signed by his Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari said the plan should be presented to him in 90 days.

The letter disclosed that the president is regularly receiving updates on the flooding situation in the country and restates his commitment to addressing the challenges caused by the disaster in the country.

This is coming from the President of a country that is suffering from the worst flooding in a decade.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) previously warned that excess water released from the Lagdo dam in Cameroon would cause severe flooding in 13 states.

NEMA Director-General Mustapha Ahmed said that the organization has identified 233 local government districts in 32 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) that may face floods in 2022.

He spoke at a national consultative workshop on 2022 Flood Preparedness, Mitigation, and Response organized by NEMA on August 2, 2022, in Abuja. 

Currently, flooding has devastated 34 of the country's 36 states, with Benue, Kogi, Bayelsa, Delta, Anambra, and Kano suffering the worst.

Ahmed further stated that advisory letters and maps depicting expected flood risk regions in several states were issued to state governments.

According to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, as of October 24, 2022, the flood had displaced over 1,400,000 people and affected over 2,504,059 individuals.

The Ministry also reported 603 deaths and 2,407 injuries.

More than 82,053 homes were destroyed, as well as 108,392 hectares of agriculture.

Suleiman Adamu, the Minister of Water Resources stated at his Ministry's budget defence on October 19, 2022, that God is to blame for floods that has swamped several sections of the country, plunging communities into unprecedented destruction.

Adamu said rainfall constitutes 80 per cent of the flood crisis across the country and not the Lagdo dam in Cameroon as insinuated by some quarters. 

“All these stories I’ve been seeing on social media, I just laugh because they are misleading.

"The contribution of the Lagdo dam to flooding in this country is only one per cent.

"Sometimes, they release the water without notice and when they do that, it has an impact on communities downstream.

“But it is not the main reason we have floods in this country — 80 per cent of the floods in this country is water that we are blessed with from God from the sky,” he said. 

The President's Intervention: Medicine After Injury 

While Nigerians continue to suffer as a result of one of the worst floods in a decade, their President is not even in the country.

There has been no direct show of concern from the Presidency except a Twitter thread (which was clearly not written by him) from the accounts of the President extending his heartfelt condolences to all those affected nationwide and promising to work until normalcy is restored on October 16, 2022.

So far, the only government agency that has been energized by the news of the crisis is NEMA, which is part of the federal ministry of humanitarian affairs, disaster management, and social development.

Recently, we've seen the President respond to such catastrophes in far-flung places as Pakistan and Indonesia within hours of their occurrences, sending condolence messages to the governments of those affected.

When a country's citizens need its leaders in the midst of a terrible calamity, the President of Nigeria hides behind tweets to convey condolences to individuals who have lost their homes, properties and even loved ones.

After more than seven years in office, the President just recognized the need for a national flood prevention policy and just directed the minister to establish one.

The President issued a 90-day ultimatum to the affected Ministries seven months before the end of an eight-year tenure. An ultimatum that stretches into the coming year.

The fact that NEMA is still the sole active federal government agency responding to the flooding that has taken dozens of lives and displaced over a million Nigerians demonstrates that our elected politicians are rarely "on duty."

To be fair to these agencies and their leaders, more cannot be expected of them when the President has considered it inappropriate to address the nation.

The 90-day ultimatum is not only coming late, but it is also a stretched solution coming at the wrong time.

And if the data and photographs of the flood's damages aren't enough to pique the President's interest, perhaps a video of a boy singing the late Michael Jackson's song as he waddles through his flooded neighbourhood with his sibling on his back would.


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