EDITORIAL: FG’s sluggish response to Benue flood is a heavy blow on ‘change’ mantra

by AljazirahNigeria | September 14, 2017 12:46 pm

An estimated 110,000 people were reportedly left homeless by the flood that sacked some communities in Benue State penultimate week, AljazirahNigeria recalls.

Apart from rendering thousands homeless, the disaster also washed away villages, farmlands and food storage facilities among others.

Photographs of inundated Makurdi began spreading on social media, showing cars and thousands of homes completely submerged. Others showed men and women carrying mattresses, bags and other belongings as they fled on foot.

Most of the flood waters originated from an uncompleted canal, which overflowed into the affected communities.

Nigerians have however accused the Benue State government of doing nothing to protect the citizens and the state from flood disaster over the years.

It would be recalled that the United states, specifically Texas and Florida have been battling with Hurricanes for three weeks now.

Hurricane Harvey and Irma have been blamed for the deaths of many residents in the flooded States.

In a rescue effort, helicopters landed near flooded freeways, airboats buzzed across submerged neighborhoods and high-water vehicles plowed through water-logged intersections.

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited Houston, Texas twice in one week, to distribute supplies to victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Trump and his wife, Melania, mingled with residents and handed out food at the NRG Center, a massive convention hall that’s been repurposed as a shelter for at least hundreds of roughly one million people displaced by the historic storm.

 It is in light of this that AljazirahNigeria condemns the slow response of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), in failing to promptly and effectively carry out the one job that it primarily exists for – to manage an emergency properly.

While thousands of distraught families lamented in anguish about the unfortunate erosion of their homes and livelihoods, NEMA remained notably silent. The agency remained silent for five days after news first broke about the flood. It later announced that it was heeding the president’s call, and started sending relief teams to the ravaged state.

To further show unprofessionalism and shoddy attitude to work, amid ravaging flood in Benue, NEMA threatened to embark on strike over non-payment of N665 million unverified staff claims.

On his part, President Buhari chose to travel to his hometown in Daura to celebrate Sallah, neglecting flood victims in Benue. AljazirahNigeria thinks the president should have travelled to Benue to sympathize and cheer up victims. Buhari’s presence in the IDP camp would have eased tensions, and raise the hopes of the victims.

It is bad enough that NEMA officials are not well equipped to handle the Benue flood. One would have expected to see NEMA rescue boats, canoes, helicopters to be used in evacuating victims from their homes. It is obvious the agency lacks the necessary equipment and facilities needed to successfully carry out their functions.

In the eye of Benue flood, resident doctors embarked on an indefinite strike. How do victims get medical treatment? This is not he ‘change’ Nigerians voted for.

 AljazirahNigeria urge President Buhari to put his government together and set priorities right.

Resident doctor’s grievances must be considered to enable them resume work. Aside from distributing relief materials to victims, NEMA officials must be well equipped with facilities. More so, Buhari should endeavor to pay salaries of NEMA official up to date to avoid strike actions amid emergencies.

Flood menace have ravaged several towns in Nigeria for several decades leaving in its wake loss of thousands of lives and tens of billions of naira worth of properties damaged which calls for holistic urgent action on our part as individuals and that of the government

AljazirahNigeria opine that dredging the River Benue would provide a permanent solution to the recurring flood in the state.

Proactive and preventive options involving structural and non-structural measures need to be adopted and implemented at curbing the menace of floods.

Structural measures such as check dams, levees, flood walls and adequate drainage systems will also help control periodic inundation in the areas that are liable to flooding.

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