Floods have ravaged 33 out of Nigeria’s 36 states, over 500 people have sadly lost their lives, while over 1 million people have been displaced. Farmlands have been swept away, worsening food insecurity, while homes have been destroyed, economic activities have been affected, and let’s not forget the damage caused to infrastructure.
Flooding in Nigeria is usually caused by climate change, rivers overflowing, dam opening, current poor urban planning practices, poor drainage systems that can’t cope, and so on. In the northern parts of the country, heavy rains are likely to cause rivers to overflow their banks and cause flooding in the neighbouring states. Poor town planning also contributes to the issue of flooding in urban areas.
It is about time the Nigerian government starts to put in place structural intervention to mitigate the effects of flooding. The government must heavily invest in critical infrastructure – roads, drainage, dikes, and flood barriers.
Experts have accused the Nigerian government of being reactive in its response to emergencies and disasters as opposed to being proactive.
The Nigerian government through the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA- has begun the distribution of relief materials to those most affected by the floods. Victims have reported that in most instances, these relief materials are not sufficient. Some communities remain inaccessible due to the floods and the so-called relief materials have not reached some of those most affected by the floods.
In a recent report by Al Jazeera, Olasunkanmi Okunola, a disaster risk specialist and visiting scientist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, stated that “Disaster management in Nigeria is synonymous to clapping with one hand; it is not possible to clap with one hand, but that is the situation of things in Nigeria.”
Attention has increasingly turned to the government’s ability to respond to climate change, extreme weather events are becoming increasingly common in Nigeria with severe droughts, more desertification, and catastrophic floods already recorded in the past year.
The Federal Government of Nigeria says that the current situation with the floods in certain states in Nigeria is not a national emergency and that state governments are the first responders in instances where there is a flood in their jurisdiction.
According to Garba Shehu, The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, each of the three tiers, the local government, the state government and the federal government has a sizeable budget at its disposal, allocated monthly precisely for dealing with these state-level natural emergencies, as well as federal agencies dedicated to doing the same.
Under the prevailing revenue allocation formula, 2.32 percent of derivation funds are set aside for ecology and disaster management.
Of this amount, the 36 states and the FCT get 0.72 percent, and the 774 local governments get 0.6 percent, adding to 1.32 percent, leaving a balance of one percent to the government of the federation.
By the law of land, NEMA takes 20 percent of the amount allocated to the Federal Government. The North East Development Commission, NEDC collects 10 percent, the National Agricultural Land Development Authority, NALDA 10 percent, and the National Agency for the Great Green Wall, GGW 0.5 percent, leaving 0.55 of the one percent to the government at the center for ecological protection and disaster management.
Increased collaboration between the three tiers of government and all relevant agencies is needed to ensure a more proactive response to issues of disaster and emergency.
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