Treat 2022 floods as national emergency, HURIWA tells Buhari

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…says FG’s un-proactiveness caused 300 deaths, 300 displaced communities in 2022

Prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Friday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to declare the ravaging floods across the country a national emergency.

HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, said it is worrisome that the floods in some states like Kogi, Benue, Nasarawa, Anambra, Delta, Bayelsa, Yobe, Sokoto, amongst others have wreaked devastating havoc including the destruction of thousands of hectares of farmlands, displaced thousands of residents of the states, and killed hundreds of people in 2022 alone.

The group said the Federal Government, the Humanitarian and Disaster Management Ministry as well as concerned agencies like the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) must come up with robust strategies to prevent the further disaster that may be caused by floods and provide succour to displaced victims and those who lost their means of livelihood when their farms were swamped by the floods.

According to a recent report by NEMA, more than 300 people have so far been killed in flood disasters across Nigeria in 2022 alone, with over 50 flood disaster alerts received by the agency daily, and more than 100 communities affected.

Aside from NEMA’s statistics, the Yobe State Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday said over 31,000 households had been affected by floods in 255 communities across the 17 local government areas in the state.

NEMA also sounded the alarm that the 2022 flood disaster will be worse than that of 2012 where at least 363 people were killed and over 2.1 million people were displaced by floods that ravaged different parts of Nigeria.

“Sadly, the lack of proactiveness of the Federal Government and the concerned ministries, departments and agencies particularly NEMA, has caused Nigeria huge losses so far this year with over 300 persons killed by floods and over 100 communities submerged and the people displaced.

“The job of FG, NEMA and others is not to reel devastating tragic statistics but to forestall disasters of this nature because the current realities weren’t accidental as weather forecasts must have revealed,” HURIWA’s Onwubiko knocked the Buhari government.

For instance, thousands of travellers and residents of Lokoja, Kogi State capital, are currently stranded as the city has been overrun by heavy flooding because the 196 kilometres Lokoja-Abuja road was submerged by flooding, consequently paralysing economic activities, including the food supply chain from the North to the South after the Niger and Benue rivers broke their banks.

Also, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) said the current fuel scarcity in Abuja and other neighbouring states on the lack of access to fuel trucks through the swamped Lokoja roads.

Similarly, Olam Nigeria Limited, an agri-business company, said the price of rice will go up by December due to flooding from River Benue which has damaged the company’s crops and infrastructure.

Commenting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly need to declare the floods all across the country as a NATIONAL EMERGENCY and call on the United Nations environmental agency for urgent assistance as NEMA has failed spectacularly in its mandate as an emergency agency going by the record losses – both materially and the number of lives lost across the country to floods. NEMA seems to be domiciled just in the North of Nigeria and not very much is heard of it in Anambra and Delta States for instance whereby the floods have unleashed devastating environmental menace and have rendered hundreds of thousands of residents of these states internally displaced and homeless. We urge NEMA to demonstrate equity and provide relief materials equitably all across Nigeria because NEMA is not a NORTHERN ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AGENCY but a NIGERIAN ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AGENCY.

“The flooding has resulted in the proliferation of internally displaced camps in places like Yobe, Anambra and Delta State and NEMA as well as the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs have failed woefully to distribute relief items to the thousands of flood victims in these places and most specifically in the South of Nigeria after failing to avert the disaster in the first place.”