Floods Killed 612 Persons as FG Sends Relief Materials to 21 States

•Says 3,219,780 persons affected, 1,427,370 displaced 

•Defence minister calls for national resilience

•NLC seeks compensation for victims

•NBA sympathises with Nigerians, plans reliefs for affected members 

•IYC accuses FG of abandoning Niger Delta

Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Olawale Ajimotokan, Alex Enumah, Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

The federal government has distributed relief items to 21 states affected by floods.

This is just as the government revealed that 1,427,370 persons have been internally displaced, approximately 2,776 persons injured, while 612 persons have lost their lives due to the devastating effects of the floods across the country.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, disclosed this yesterday while updating the public on the interventions made by the ministry and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on the flood situation across the country.

She said this just as the Minister of Defence, Major Gen Bashir Magashi (rtd), yesterday called for national resilience following the devastating flood across the nation.

Also, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has asked government at all levels to ensure adequate compensation for lives lost and property destroyed in the devastating flooding across the country.

According to Farouq, the 21 states are Abia, Adamawa, Anambra, Bayelsa, Ekiti, Enugu, FCT, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Sokoto, Taraba and Yobe.

Giving update on the flooding, she said as of October 24, 2022, about 3,219,780 persons were reportedly affected by floods this year.

Also, 181,600 houses were partially damaged and another 123,807 houses totally damaged. In addition, 176,852 hectares of farmlands were partially damaged while 392,399 hectares of farmlands have been totally damaged.

She said while specialised teams were on ground, there were still some states and local governments still inaccessible and hard to reach.

The minister said the federal government was liaising with the Military Disaster Response Units and other stakeholders with specialised skills and equipment to ensure that they use other means to reach hard-to-reach areas and people at risk.

She added that the Search and Rescue Operations had been on their toes since the flooding started and had continued to evacuate, relocate and refer victims to hospitals for immediate care. She called on other stakeholders to join in efforts to assist affected flood victims.

 “I commend local communities for their resilience. We received a report that in 144 LGAs, local communities worked together to provide the first response to their families and neighbors. The Search and Rescue Team, which is responsible for evacuating people and providing life-saving first aid and medical support and referrals to hospitals has so far been able to reach 199 local government areas within 25 states,” she said. 

She stressed that a high-level delegation would visit some states next week to follow up on operations and to identify any new challenges and gaps in the operations that need to be addressed.

IYC Accuses FG of Abandoning Niger Delta Flood Victims

The intervention by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, came on same day the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide called on President Muhammadu Buhari  to order special urgent humanitarian response to the Niger Delta region and rescue the dying victims of flood in the various states of the area.

The IYC President, Peter Timothy Igbifa, said over 85 percent of the entire Bayelsa was under water with about 100 deaths recorded in the last two weeks.

He demanded the deployment of presidential fleet to the state to rescue trapped victims and mitigate the damage already done by the flood.

Igbifa, who spoke yesterday, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, lamented that Bayelsa had been cut off from civilisation as the floods took over and washed away significant portions of the only road leading to the state, the East-West road, at both Rivers and Delta states’ axis.

The IYC boss described the condition of the people at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Bayelsa as terrible, crying out that the traumatised victims required urgent medical, food and cash deployment to avert starvation and outbreak of diseases.

He wondered why Buhari would maintain unimaginable aloofness to the state of his predecessor, former President Goodluck Jonathan, who willingly handed over power to him, abandoning his people at their time of need.

He said: “As we speak, former President Goodluck Jonathan is officially an internally displaced person. His country home has been submerged and the people of Otuoke like other people from different parts of the state are traumatised.

“Bayelsa’s case is pathetic and requires special intervention from President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government. The floods destroyed the East-West road, the only road leading to Bayelsa at both ends of Rivers and Delta. Therefore, the entire Bayelsa is cut off and inaccessible by land.

“There is no movement of goods and services to the state. Trucks carrying foodstuffs, medicine and other items can no longer enter Bayelsa. The food available in the state before the floods had been totally consumed. Starvation is starring the people in the face and threatening to wipe them out of existence.

“The available IDPs are congested with serious fear of outbreak of diseases among the people. Our people are hopeless and helpless yet the federal government led by Buhari is carrying on as if all is well”.

Defence Minister Calls for National Resilience

In a related development, Magashi yesterday called for national resilience following the devastating flood across the nation.

He spoke in Abuja while inaugurating the Course 31 of the Nigerian Defence College (NDC) with participants drawn from 20 countries.

The participants were drawn from Bangladesh, Benin Republic, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia and Ghana.

Others are India, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Nepal, Niger, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda.

Speaking as the special guest of honour, the minister said the impact of climate change on environmental and socioeconomic systems was compounding the country’s fragility risks.

He said extreme weather patterns were aggravating challenges confronting local communities.

“Extensive cultivation and overgrasing have been compounded by desertification, rendering large portion of land in northern Nigeria unproductive.

“Similarly, unpredictable and higher intensity rainfall is resulting in the loss of crops and displacement of communities.

“Depleting environmental resources in every part of the country pose a serious food security challenge in the face of a rapidly growing population,” he said.

He noted that responding to the 21st century risks landscape required an integrated approach that could better anticipate global shocks and emerging risks, while seizing opportunities from existing and new innovations. “Resilience building is necessary at all levels, from individuals to systemic levels. Accordingly, the national strategic framework must seek to incorporate the households, communities, businesses, academia as well as other experts and security services among others,” he said.

In his remarks, the Commandant of the Nigerian Defence College (NDC), Rear Admiral Murtala Bashir, said

116 participants comprising 68 officers from the Armed Forces of Nigeria, 27 participants from the Nigeria Police, other security agencies and strategic Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

“For the international participants, I urge you to use the opportunity of being here at the NDC to not only prepare yourself for higher responsibilities in your countries, but to also establish a strong bond of friendship with your Nigerian colleagues.

“Crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine demonstrate how the global economy and security have been affected and the compelling need for countries to be resilient to absorb the accompanying shocks.

“Absorbing such shocks will involve countries identifying policy settings and mechanisms that could be re-calibrated to enhance national resilience,” he said.

 This underpins the consideration of the topic selected for this important inaugural lecture, “Building a Resilient Economy in the Contemporary Security Environment: Options for Nigeria,” he said.

NLC Seeks Compensation for Flood Victims

Also, the NLC has asked government at all levels to ensure adequate compensation for lives lost and property destroyed in the devastating flooding across the country.

Labour also urged the federal government to honour all collective bargaining agreements with unions in the tertiary education sub-sector especially with regards to wages and conditions of service and to quickly pay salary arrears of the university workers.

In a communiqué issued at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State on Monday, the NLC lamented the devastating impact of the massive flooding that affected lives and properties of the already impoverished citizens.

The communiqué jointly signed by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba and General Secretary, Emma Ugboaja stated: “The humungous dislocation, and suffering occasioned by the current flooding in most states of the federation and alert on more flooding.

“While sympathising with victims of this year’s flooding crisis, the NEC noted the link between the current flooding and the threat of climate change and the failure of government to put in place adequate mitigating measures to reduce the impact of the flooding on people, communities and businesses”.

The NLC urged, “the federal, states and local governments to put in place adequate mitigating measures including construction of catchment dams, clearing of water channels and effective use of ecological funds to address environmental issues in Nigeria.

“It called on government at all levels to ensure adequate compensation for lives lost and property destroyed in the frequent episode of national flooding.

“Humanitarian assistance, sanitary support, clean water, malaria nets and drugs should be quickly provided for impacted communities to avoid possible outbreak of cholera, dysentery, and malaria”.

Furthermore, the NLC also suggested the deployment of transition initiatives to reduce carbon emission especially gas flaring and other harmful industrial practices that harm the environment and shift towards a green economy in a manner that ensures that no worker is left behind.

On the lingering labour dispute in the university system in the country, the NLC blamed it on the violation of human and trade union rights and collapse of collective bargaining machinery.

It urged government to honour all collective bargaining agreements with unions in the tertiary education sub-sector especially with regards to wages and conditions of service.

It demanded the release of withheld salary owed university workers while rejecting the “no work – no pay” policy of government.

In addition, NLC canvassed for an increase budgetary allocation to the education sector.

The labour movement urged the Minister of Labour and Employment to respect the provisions of Nigeria’s Constitution, Trade Unions Act (CAP T14 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria), Conventions 87 and 98 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in respect for trade union independence, promotion of tripartism and social dialogue in the exercise of his mandate as a Minister.

Regarding the revelations of massive tapping and illegal connections to oil pipelines resulting in massive oil theft in Nigeria’s oil producing communities, the NLC regretted that the practice has given rise to widespread oil pollution, illegal artisanal refining, loss of national revenue and spike in violent conflicts in oil-bearing communities.

NBA Sympathises with Nigerians, Plans Reliefs for Affected Members

In the meantime, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Yakubu Maikyau, has sympathised with Nigerians and members of the NBA who were affected by floods in numerous towns and villages of Nigeria.

Consequently, the association has concluded plans to ameliorate the suffering of affected members.

A statement by the National Publicity Secretary, NBA, Akorede Lawal, disclosed that Maikyau while acknowledging the devastating effect of the flood directed for a comprehensive list of affected members.

The letter dated October 24, 2022, and addressed to the chairmen of the 125 branches of the NBA, was aimed at offering some help and bring succour to members directly affected by the flood.

Lawal in the statement quoted the NBA’s President as saying that, “Nothing will ever replace the lives that have been lost, but we can help by joining hands with the relevant authorities to see that some form of material aid is made to alleviate the sufferings of the people, most especially our colleagues.”

As the government, aid agencies and well-meaning Nigerians continue to find ways to bring relief to affected persons, the NBA called on the relevant authorities to look into the planning of all Nigerian towns and cities with a view to creating or implementing the plan for natural waterways which serve as precautionary measures against flooding.

“We also implore all Nigerians to keep following the weather updates and flood alerts published by NEMA and other agencies while ensuring compliance with recommended safety precautions provided therein,” the statement added.

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