By Benjamin Atu
October 1st 2017, as Nigerians celebrate her independence, Communities in Etsako Central and other areas in Edo North woke up that faithful day in swamp whose source of flood is still a mystery.
The ongoing catastrophic flooding in different parts of Etsako Central in Edo State, has come as a very serious assault by nature. Nobody envisaged that nature would vent its fury and pour its contents on the people of Etsako central in such an agonising way, washing away loves one, homes, businesses, schools, worship centres and all farmland in one fell swoop. Household goods now float freely on top water. What use to be roads have suddenly turned waterways that can only be navigated by canoes. Infact all major link roads in Etsako central has been cut off and turn high sea. All access road to evacuate the victim have also been submerged by the ravaging flood.
Farmland had been washed away. People are now being threatened by snakes, crocodiles and hippotamus and other animals that has been dislodge from their natural habitat by the ravaging flood which now lives in several people’s home. Also coming with the flood are water borne diseases, expecially cholera, with its high mortality rate. With several communities trapped by the devastating flooding there is an urgent need for the intervention of the federal government in evacuating the trapped victim of this natural disaster.
The National Emergency Management Agency, as Usual, was caught napping. The red cross admitted being overwhelmed. The question is, if this chronic flooding will stop any time soon.? Government need to strengthen its emergency rescue and recovery plans. The public must be cautioned to limit contact with the flood water due to potentially elevated levels of contamination. When will this yearly natural flooding find their way back to the Oceans, Rivers and Rivulets? Only God knows when.
The yearly havoc of flooding to the most populous single community in Etsako Central LGA, Udaba-Ekphei, Agbabu, Osomegbe, Ifeku inland, Udochi, Ofukpo, Anegbette, Utsuko and Ukpe oko orile has become a major burden which has severally led to constant tension, weeping and recently, tears by the member representing Etsako Central in the Edo State House of Assembly Hon. Lawani Demain who has taken it upon himself to eat and sleep with the flood victim who are current rescue to various camps.
Schools have shot down in the affected communities submerged by flood resulting from the River Niger and Benue which have over flown its Banks and aided by the torrential rain in various communities in Edo North.
The coincidence of the torrential flooding same day of the nations 57th independence, is an evidence of government irresponsibility and neglect by relevant agencies of government. Despite the constant alert and warning on climate change the federal government has failed to find a lasting solution to this yearly natural disaster. State Government and Communal effort to prevent the yearly incident has yielded no result because, water released from Cameroon, Togo and Niger Republic dams through River Benue are responsible for the seasonal flooding of these riverine communities in Edo North. Etsako Central have been submerged by flood in the past one week and the people have been rendered Homeless in their own home.
The neglect by the Federal government in finding a lasting solution to this ravaging flood will continue to have a biting economic effect in the nations economy and the diversification effort of government. This is because affected communities in this current flooding incident are the major rice belt of the state and the nation. With flood coming into account, food situation can only get worse, pushing more people into poverty traps with impending food shortage. The continuous havoc on Major Farms and the destruction of crops and other Farm produced will definitely have a spill over effect on the economy of the nation and also frustrate the diversification effort of both the state and federal government as Farm produced are regularly washed away by this annual flood.
Be that as it may, the fact that this is a yearly occurrence, means that government will continued to suffer major setback Agriculturally because Edo State and Edo North in particular is known for farming and contribute major quarter in the production of Rice, Yams, and other major Agricultural products in the nation. There is urgent need for government to protect the nations economy against waste as well as protect the People of Afemai land from continuous losses on a yearly basis.
The duty of government is not to lament with the people of Etsako land but to find a lasting solution to this biting yearly incident. Same time last year and previous years, similar issue occurred when several schools, markets and worship centres both Mosques and Churches were submerged by the flood. The ugly incident has continually cause educational, spiritual, economic and financial set back to affected communities. It will be the joy of the people of Edo State if the Federal Government and concerned relevant national and international Non Governmental Organisation can intervene including good spirited individuals in providing lasting solution to avoid a reoccurrence in the coming year.
The attitude of government in abandoning project has plunged the people into more pain. The IDP camp under construction in the area by government was abandoned and uncompleted giving the people more reason to worry and a sense of insecurity. Despite the mobilisation of preliminary relief efforts to the affected areas by the Edo State government, the weight of burden is still obvious because it is a weight too heavy for the state to bear. There is therefore an urgent need for the Federal government through its relevant agency to support the effort of the state government in order to provide support and hope to the people who are currently homeless and vulnerable due to natural disaster and poor preparation by the Federal government.
Deputy Governor of the state who is from the area Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu, Senator Representing Edo North Senator Francis Alimikhena, Member representing Etsako Federal Constituency Hon. John Oghuma, Member Representing Edo Central in the State House of Assembly Barr. Lawani Demian as well as the governor’s representative and Hon Commissioner Mr. Mika Osigbemhe, Hon. Marvelous Zubiri and other aides of the state government from the area have constantly been on the spot to provide instant relief to the people and to ascertain the level of destruction of lives and properties, livestocks, crops and other valuables. one life was recorded to have been loss in the flood and properties worth millions gone.
The Effort of the state government in establishing temporary schools
For these victim is not possible due to the fact that the IDP camp is not yet ready and other schools are currently in section. Apart from the educational vacuum which has been created to the children, there is also an urgent need for the federal government to provide mobile medical clinic to the victim to avoid rapid outbreak of epidemic or emergencies. Provision of boats to easy movement of more victim who are still currently trapped by the ravaging flood will help to save more lives.
Meanwhile leaders of the community have a different perspective to the activities of NEMA and other agencies of Government. According to them, food and other relief materials is not their problem. Rather government should provide a lasting solution to their yearly problem of climate change flooding by constructing the various roads with drains as well as draining of the dams among other.
Farmers whose livelihood may have been washed away by the flood need to be supported by granting them soft loans, seedlings and fertilizer. There should also be a practical effort to move them from subsistence farming to mechanized farming.
A major lasting effort expected by the federal government is the compensation to villages that are worse hit by the disaster. Government should as part of permanent solution, construct the roads and good drainages in Udaba-Ekperi – connecting Ofukpo Agbabu Osomhegbe Udochi communities should be constructed immediately as this will help to access the place whenever floods happens to send relief materials and dredging of the river belt will also prevent the yearly menace and therefore create permanent solution.
Benjamin Atu is the Personal Assistant to Senator Francis Alimikhena. Edo North. A public affairs analyst wrote from Igiode in Agenebode. firstname.lastname@example.org