In the first leg of its fundraising drive for victims of the recent flood disaster in the country, the Presidential Committee on Flood Relief yesterday in Abuja realised over N11 billion. The sum is about 10 per cent of the N100 billion targeted by the committee headed by business mogul Aliko Dangote and former president of Nigerian Bar Association Olisa Agbakoba.
The N100 billion mark is far in excess of the about N5.7 billion that the United Nations estimates that Nigeria would need in emergency aid to help the about 2.1 million people displaced by the floods. The federal government has said the expected amount would be used to rehabilitate the displaced persons. But for an economy sitting precariously on a single product, crude oil, with its slippery character, the current flood relief effort can also be a good takeoff point for agricultural revival in Nigeria.
Though, agricultural livelihoods were not the only things lost in the floods that killed over 360 people and injured over 18, 000, it definitely makes sound economic and political sense to plough the bulk of the targeted fund into agricultural development. That will be a great way to protect the country from the vagaries of the economic and social weather that the government has been struggling to tackle.