The ‘Made in Cameroon’ Floods and Nigeria’s Liability
Etete, Enideneze, a media practitioner and public affairs analyst writes on The ‘Made in Cameroon’ Floods and Nigeria’s Liability.
For a decade now, starting from 2012 to 2022, floods have recurrently ravaged Nigeria, almost annually. Yet, Nigeria, the Giant of Africa has been moping at Cameroon for mercy, instead of tackling the mishap head-on.
While permanent solutions were awaited to no avail, this year’s flood disaster believed to be the worst, has left citizens, households and organisations in pitiable jeopardy. Buildings, roads, crop, fish and animal farms, property in households and offices have been damaged by the disaster.
Thousands of victims are rendered homeless, amid health hazards, imminent food scarcity, price hikes, poverty and hunger. A number of citizens have reportedly died in various parts of the Nigeria. The States of Niger Delta, located on the lowest seabed, states in the Middlebelt and some Northern States, nobly Northeast are the worst-hit.
Despite these devastating effects, the situation ironically seems to have become a normal thing for the people to live with. This is because Nigeria has apparently not taking full liability, to proactively provide permanent solutions in order to curb the ‘Made in Cameroon’ disaster.
Nigeria’s lack of will to tackle the floods is irrespective of being aware that the Lagdo Dam in Republic of Cameroon is likely the major cause of the flooding. Instead, it blamed State and Local Governments for ignoring warnings about the floods and for not taking precautionary measures ahead, in order to manage the effects. Rightly, to an extent, Governors and Local Government Council Chairmen have roles to play, but Federal Government has biggest obligation if this year’s flood misfortune is to be classified as a national humanitarian disaster.
More so, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NiHSA), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) caution Nigeria ahead, whenever Cameroon wants to open the Lagdo Dam which releases deluge of waters to River Benue, tributaries, River Niger and others. The agencies also explain ahead every flood incidents, the secondary roles that rainfalls, coupled with overflow of waters from Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro dams could play in the flooding. These warnings were issued early enough even this year, amid intra-agencies allegations of sabotage of Federal Government’s efforts.
Identification of Cameroon’s Lagdo Dam as the main source of the floods in Nigeria, as also affirmed by the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM), is contrary to attribution of the recurrent abnormal floods to rainfalls alone, which some persons usually interpret as the outcome of global climatic changes, causing the same havoc in other countries.
One would like to reason, albeit in a layman’s view, subject to opinion of experts, that floods from incessant heavy rainfall might not be as recurrent and devastating as currently experienced ten years now, except it is end-times rain. More so, floods from abnormal rains tend to recede as soon as the periodic rains stop. Even that which comes from a rise in underground water, might not be as serious as floods caused by a dam opened to let out excess volumes.
Yet, despite having known the major and ancillary causes, at best, reactive measures are what Nigeria’s Federal Government and some of the State Governments embark upon, to try to rescue flood victims in some places, provide medical services and relief materials. These exercises are even, often ineffectively coordinated, and staggering sums of money are spent. Succor reaches some victims too late, while some do not get any reliefs at all, and then some die.
Crises or disasters are inevitable in human environment and life, and will happen when they will happen, yet, a proactive approach to handling issues before they get to conflict and later crisis stage, is the magic wand. This strategy, which goes with planning, implementing actions ahead, and communicating effectively at all stages is the shock absorber for known-known, unknown-known and even unknown-unknown crises.
More so as it is often said, when a problem and its roots are identified and analysed, that problem is almost solved. Sadly, this axiom has been disproved by Nigeria’s inability to fix a decade’s-flood mishap, which major cause is even known. Instead, Nigeria is at the mercy of Cameroon, begging to be given information whenever excess water will be released from the Lagdo Dam, or pleading that it should not be released at a go.
This is unbefitting of Nigeria, the so-called Giant of Africa having more land mass, higher population and other resources than many countries, including Cameroon, which constructed the Lagdo Dam far back 1977 and completed it 1982 to control flooding, provide electricity and irrigate farmlands.
From 1977 when Cameroon sought for Nigeria’s cooperation, apparently in the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s military regime, that Nigeria should build its own dam at Dasin Hausa in present Adamawa State, to receive and control excess water from the Lagdo Dam, reports assert that the Dasin Dam which is even said to have reached about 90 percent milestone, is yet to be completed by Nigeria’s Federal Government.
President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration alone is not to blame for this failure of not rounding off the Dasin Dam project, instead, all the administrations from 1977 to date, have their share of blames.
However, given the perennial nature of the destructive floods believed to be mainly caused by the Lagdo Dam, and secondarily by rains as well as overflow from our own dams, the Federal Government of Nigeria, needs to revisit the mega dam project at Dasin Hausa Adamawa and complete it, to avert similar flood misfortune next year and beyond. This could be more important than enacting a Water Resources Act to expropriate regions of their endowments.
The Kashimbilla/Gambo Dam in Taraba State should also be rushed to completion. More dams could as well be built by Nigeria in collaboration with State Governments, just as states could jointly build regional dams to manage flooding. Afterall dams could also generate electricity as well as aid farming.
In addition, land reclamation, construction of new canals, opening up of existing canals, construction of bridges, destilling, shore protection with dredging of Rivers, tributaries and creeks that are strategic to managing flood and erosion disasters, need to be done.
Proper planning of urban and rural settlements and adherence to the plans, with well-mapped out standard and well-elevated roads and streets, good spaces among houses as well as drainage systems, could also help to mitigate impact of flooding.
Citizens should also obey planning and environmental laws, as well as build their houses in ways that could reduce impact of flood.
The Ecological Fund under Nigeria’s Presidency, should not be like a banker holding deposits for customers. Instead, the funds should be proactively put into use for the purposes of managing ecological problems such as pollution, erosion, oceanification, desertification and floods. If governors are receiving allocations from the Ecological Fund, they should channel the monies to tackling ecological problems in their states.
Federal, State and Local Governments, public spirited individuals, corporate and charity organisations as well as international donor agencies should provide social and economic supports to victims of this year’s flood. In doing so, care needs to be taking to ensure financial transparency and delivery to real victims. Materials, especially, edibles should not be kept in public warehouses or personal houses to entertain rats and insects, only to be shared as bad items.
Also as mitigation measures, temporary Flood Displaced Persons (FDPs) camps, with facilities, and permanent camps to provide temporary abode for victims in future floods, could be constructed in various places.
Aircrafts, drones and speed boats could be used to transport petroleum products, foods, drugs etcetera, to places experiencing scarcity and price hike.
The planning of transport sector in the country and by states ought to consider developing effective river transportation in riverine areas, as well as functional intra and inter-state air transport as alternatives to land vehicular and rail transport, which flood easily disrupts in some places.
Although, ten years have gone down history as a decade of floods originating mostly from Cameroon, Nigeria’s Government should no longer treat the dangerous disaster as insoluble, the way problems of refineries, importing of petroleum products, fuel subsidy, electricity supply, restructuring and insecurity have seemed insurmountable debacles.
Indeed, my stand is that the major source of the recurrent flooding of many parts of Nigeria is known, if the reports are anything to go by, hence efforts should be made to provide permanent solutions. Nigeria and its political leaders should no longer remain akimbo nor resort to a-palliatives strategy which provides temporary reliefs while the doom’s day waits for the people. The flood disaster which affects living and inanimate objects directly, instantly and massively has created an emergency situation, thus should be tackled the way Covid-19 pandemic was managed with all sense of seriousness despite suspicion of economic war and neo-imperialism.
Frankly, Nigeria ought to be concerned about its environment and devastating effects of floods on Nigerians, like its small neighbour Cameroon whose mercy we mope for every year as if it is our God.
The great African Poet, J. P. Clark says in his poem, The Casualties, that the casualties are not only those that die or get injured in a war, neither the souls and property lost, instead there are many more casualties. Thus, we are all casualties of the floods, one way or the other.
Therefore, while succor is expected for victims of this year’s floods, the most important call is for Nigeria to see it as a liability to provide lasting solutions that could curb the ‘Made in Cameroon’ mishap, before the Lagdo Dam lags behind its current of water and do just what it knows, releasing the un-wated excess volumes to Nigeria.
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The ‘Made in Cameroon’ Floods and Nigeria’s Liability
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