THE agony of flooding that millions of Nigerians living in or around the downstream of Oyan Dam in Lagos and Ogun States are currently being subjected to is pathetic. Their experience in the last two weeks has been that of misery and despair following the release of excess water from the dam into the Ogun River by the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority. More pathetic is the total failure of government to prevent or manage the crisis. In this regard, the Federal Government, and the governments of Lagos and Ogun States are blameworthy.
The three governments know or should know that the river in question would overflow its banks. None did anything to prevent the looming danger. When the catastrophe finally occurred, they competed not in managing the crisis, but in lamenting, and being anxious to pass the buck.
President Goodluck Jonathan was reported to have, in a message posted on his Facebook page, commiserated with the victims, assuring them that government would come to their aid “in a timely manner”. Even if the assistance he promised had come at the time he spoke, it was no longer timely. Governments in more serious countries would not have waited for the flooding crisis to occur before acting. It is no consolation to the victims that the President expressed concern about their plight, based on his experience when he visited flood victims in Sokoto and Kebbi States recently.
Even more worrisome is the allegation by Lagos Governor Raji Fashola that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) failed to respond to the state government’s request, made three years earlier, for ecological funds to address the matter decisively. We agree with the governor that the relief materials subsequently provided by NEMA came too late. But the state government knew the flood would occur, at least four months ago. The commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Muiz Banire at the time warned people living in the state’s wetlands to relocate before the imminent flood.
Copyright, Blaise APLOGAN, 2010,© Bienvenu sur Babilown
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