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Floods Everywhere, Wreaking Havoc



River Niger has gone berserk, following unprecedented
increase in its volume by the release of water from four dams. This is in
addition to the persistent rainfall in recent times.

Along its path, from Lokoja, Kogi, in the northern part of
the country, to Bayelsa, in the southern part, the river leaves tales of
destruction, exacerbated by water released from the Kainji Dam and Shiroro Dam,
both in Niger, as well as Jebba Dam in Kwara and Lagdo Dam in Cameroon.

It began as a child’s play but before daybreak, floods have
taken over towns across the country, particularly neighbourhoods along the
river banks and the riverside areas; wreaking havoc.

Few people took the Nigerian Meteorological Agency and
National Emergency Management Agency serious when they issued early warnings
that owing to climate change, the country would have a lot of rainfall, between
August and September in particular.

All things being equal, planning, preparations and
management by all stakeholders ought to have promptly commenced to mitigate
looming disasters.

However, it was business as usual: wining and dining
continued along the river banks, farmers busied themselves with planting, while
erection of buildings along the river banks and flood paths continued unabated.

Few Nigerians could even lay claim to knowing what climate
change is all about, in spite of orchestrated campaigns and public sensitisation
activities about the phenomenon. To most Nigerians, God is always in control.

Climate change, which has since become the most topical
environmental issue, is the result of greenhouse gases, principally carbon
dioxide, which are building up in the atmosphere and helping to trap heat.

Scientists claim that this has caused the climate to change
globally, causing ice-melts in some regions and flooding in others. In the past
years, the world has been strategising on how to tackle climate change.

It was, however, not until the water had risen to a
precarious level, for instance, in Kogi, that some residents ran atop trees.
The hapless ones got drowned in the floods, while palliatives were being given
out in camps set up for displaced persons.

Observers maintain that if the people had promptly heeded
the warning and relocated to safer places before the flooding, perhaps, a lot
of lives and property could have been saved. The situation, they add, is
compounded by apathy of most Nigerians toward weather forecasts.

The Lokoja-Abuja highway ,a major thoroughfare between the
southern part and the northern part of the country,  is no longer passable and has to be closed.

NEMA has listed other vulnerable states to include Rivers,
Niger, Benue, Cross River, Katsina and Imo,

According to the agency, the areas that have experienced
severe flooding since the onset of the rainy season include the coastal states
of Lagos, Ondo, Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River.

For instance, the Kogi flooding claimed more than 11 lives and
destroyed a lot of property.

Mrs Alice Ogedengbe, the acting Executive Secretary of the
Kogi State Emergency Management Agency, said: “The most affected local
government areas are Ibaji, Ajaokuta, Lokoja, Kogi and Kotonkarfe which have
about 20 camps with over 7,378 people.’’

Elsewhere in the country, rescue operations are ongoing,
corpses washed ashore are being picked, displaced persons are being sheltered
in temporary camps, while several residents watch helplessly as their
buildings, livestock and crops get submerged.

In Kano State, no fewer than 19 persons have been confirmed
dead and several others were injured in 30 out of the state’s 44 local
government areas.

In Zamfara, more than 50 persons died in floods, while the
state government has spent N200 million to assist flood victims in Maru,
Maradun and Anka Local Government Areas.

Besides, NEMA says the flood has destroyed 325 houses in
Kaduna State, while in Katsina State, no fewer than seven persons have been
reported dead.

Gov. Adams Oshiomhole of Edo also said that N100 million
would be released to cater for some 30,000 persons who were displaced by
flooding in Etasko East and Etsako Central Local Government Areas.

“Never in history have we had such a natural disaster in the
state. Just as we are concerned, so also is President Goodluck Jonathan,’’ he

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has engaged the services
of three construction companies to free the submerged Lokoja-Abuja Road from
the flood menace.

Minister of Works Mike Onolememen, said that Jonathan was
visibly touched by the people’s plight, as the Kogi flooding had affected key
national structures, while threatening to cut off the link between the northern
and southern parts of the country.

“We are here on behalf of President Jonathan; he is deeply
touched by the sufferings of Nigerians affected by the flood; it is a national

“It has touched on key national infrastructure because the
Abuja-Lokoja highway accounts for 70 per cent of traffic between the north and
south,’’ he said.

Onolememen said that the magnitude of the Kogi flood had
never been experienced in the last 100 years.

Also speaking, Hajia Hadiza Mailafia, the Minister of
Environment, said that the flooding was very unfortunate.

“The situation is worsened because we do not obey
environment rules; this is traumatising,’’ she said, adding that states and
local government councils should do more to discourage property development
along river banks and flood-prone areas.

Gov. Idris Wada of Kogi described the flood disaster as a
major human calamity and a tragic experience for the people of the state.

However, the Senate has requested the President to present a
supplementary budget for the victims of the disaster.

The Federal Ministry of Information has also directed the
broadcast of public enlightenment messages, aimed particularly at communities
along river banks.

Concerned citizens are, nonetheless, asking certain

“Must a disaster occur before the country begins to put
things in place? Why do people obstinately refuse to relocate to safer places
even when there is imminent danger? Why should people not generally take
environment issues serious?’’

They argue that water, unlike fire, accumulates over time
and gives a long notice before it overflows and causes destruction.

Dr Adewale Oyeniyi, an environmentalist, urged relevant
authorities to organise pragmatic enlightenment campaigns on environmental
issues for the people.

He underscored the need for the sensitisation activity,
particularly now that the citizens were becoming more conscious of the fact
that weather predictions could be very accurate.

“Our attitude to the environment is deplorable, a situation
where drains are blocked, where people are allowed to live in buildings built
on flood paths should end,’’ he said.

Oyeniyi said that channelisation of water to other rivers,
apart from River Niger, should also be encouraged.

“If that practice had been adopted, River Niger could not
have over-flown its banks, leading to destruction of lives and property,’’ he

Besides, Oyeniyi said that water releases from dams should
be done continually; adding such releases should be made regularly because of
earlier predictions that volume of rain this year would be more.

Apart from causing disruption to the environment, flood
disasters could also affect the people’s health and disrupt academic calendars,
while causing food insecurity.

The spate of flooding across the country has obviously
affected farming activities, further threatening the country’s food security.

Mr Haruna Muhammed, Chairman, Mile 12 Market Management
Committee, said that there was a perceptible shortage of green vegetables in
the markets due to the flooding.

“If you visit some vegetable farms now, you will be amazed
to see how flood has eroded whole farms, leaving nothing for the farmers to
harvest,’’ he said.

Muhammed, who noted that it was quite easy to manage floods
in vegetable farms, nonetheless, conceded that the current situation was
overwhelming and far beyond the farmers’ control.

Mr Sarki Ibrahim, the head of Lille, a village in Nasarawa
which was ravaged by floods, appealed to the government and affluent
individuals to come to the aid of the affected farmers.

Mr Bolaji Alonge, a farm developer, however, attributed the
current shortage of food in the country to the drastic change in climate.

He, however, proposed that Nigerian farmers should embrace
all-season planting, noting that all-season farmers were quite few in the

As floods continue their rampage, many observers propose the
adoption of anticipatory measures, good planning procedures and effective
management techniques in handling downpours and resultant floods in the


Buki Ponle

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Gender Equality And Path To Sustainable Development Goals



Disparities between women and men with regards to access to and control of economic resources and political power constitute a hindrance to bridging gender equality gaps.
As the gender variable enters the sustainable development equation, attention is now drawn to creating a better understanding of the role of gender equality and equity in poverty alleviation and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It is pertinent to advance that gender equality agitation does not ignore the biological differences between men and women especially as regards reproductive roles.
Rather, it helps to appreciate the uniqueness of each gender group and the importance of bringing the different needs and priorities of both women and men into development plans.
According to the Gender Snapshot 2022 Report by UN women and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), at the current rate it will take close to 300 years to achieve full gender equality, one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The report further reveals how gender disparities are worsening due to COVID-19 pandemic, violence, climate change and backlash against women’s sexual and reproductive health rights.
It said these factors will make it difficult for many countries to meet SDG number 5 by 2030 deadline. SDG number 5 seeks to achieve gender equity and empowerment of women and girls.
The report highlighted the need for cooperation, partnership and investment to put the world back on track towards achieving the goal.
“Without swift action, legal systems that do not ban violence against women, or protect their rights in marriage and family, may continue to exist for generations to come”, it said.
Some stakeholders have advocated increased gender response in budgeting to promote awareness, equity and equality as part of the measures to close the widening gaps.
They said there is the need to ensure that women and men are free to develop their full potential and are able to make choices without restrictive gender roles.
Mrs Felicia Onibun, National Coordinator, 100 Women Lobby Group, at a workshop on Gender Responsive Budgeting Framework in Abuja, highlighted the need for a gender budgeting that is inclusive and captures women, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and all vulnerable people.
“Budgeting for gender response is important because women’s needs are different from men’s need. What a woman needs to achieve her goal is different from what a man needs”, she said.
Similarly Mrs Tayo Erinle, Executive Director, Talitha Cumi Foundation, said increased gender budgeting and budget performance will address discrimination, bias and other forms of violence against women and children.
Therefore, women and men’s need and interests are to be equally valued and protected if any nation is to achieve sustainable development.
Countries with wide gender gaps are found to exhibit poor indicators of growth like poor nutrition, high maternal and infant mortality rates, poverty, low life expectancy, low level of education and high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
A major concern in many African countries is the continued low representation of women at all levels of governance and economic negotiations, especially at grassroots level.
A gender activist, Chinonso Okechukwu, at a recent media forum in Lagos said this anomaly must be addressed for any meaningful development to take place.
Okechukwu, the Focal Person of Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF), decried the low female representation and participation in the public service and politics in Nigeria.
According to her the national average of women’s political participation has remained at 6.7 per cent in elective and appointive positions, a figure she said was not good enough
Women and men’s voices must be heard in all areas of development, including climate change, poverty and drafting of strategies and programmes for sustainable development.
Experts say governance must be gender-sensitive for it to be equitable, sustainable and effective.
Prof. Joy Ezeilo, the Founder of Women of Aid Collective (WACOL), an NGO, also frowns at the dismal participation of women in politics, saying many of them have continued to be disenfranchised.
“And there is no way we can make claims to sustainable development without full participation of women in governance and indeed in all sectors including economy,’’ she was quoted by the media as saying.
According to her because of the ‘mercantile politics‘ practiced in Nigeria most women cannot afford to venture into politics and be part of decision making and implementation processes.
“Sometimes women economic status also affects their political careers,’’ she said.

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The Church And A New Hope For Nigeria



When a famous French statesman and writer,Alexis de Tocqueville,visited the United States of America not too long after its revolutionary independence from the colonial English power, he discovered a pleasant serenity that was present all over the vast land. He said he sought the answer everywhere, schools, offices, government institutions etc. After a diligent search, he got nowhere near resolving the puzzle.
Finally, the European wrote: ‘’I sought for the greatness of the United States in her commodious harbours, her ample rivers, her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there. I sought for it in her rich higher learning and it was not there. I looked for it in her democratic congress and her matchless constitution and it was not there. Not until I went to the Churches of America did I understand the secret of her genius and power.’’ Tocqueville said the prosperity of the United States at the time of his trip in the first half of the 19thCentury was due to the reliance of the citizens and their leaders on the messages of their Church leaders.
He was not speaking of a US version of Christian theocracy. He was simply saying that although the Americans ran a secular system with human beings and their business, administrative, educational and economic organs fully in place, they still allowed room for the messengers of God to guide them. In other words, the people were not overwhelmed and distracted by physical pursuits to satisfy physical needs. They sought the balance commanded by Jesus Christ: man must not live by bread alone, but by every word that flows from God.
Man is in grave danger if he dwells on materialism to the utter neglect of the spiritual. This is the point repeatedly made by Pastor William FolorunsoKumuyi, the General Superintendent (GS) of Deeper Christian Life Ministry, DCLM, as he mounts the rostrum to preach at his now well-received world-wide revival programmes called Global Crusade with Kumuyi, GCK. Being an unrepentant servant of Heaven determined to heed the call of God to preach only the truth that frees man from bondage, Kumuyi has been noted to do just that over the decades.
So, when in October 2021, Kumuyi’s GCK train arrived in Port Harcourt, capital of Nigeria’s South-South Rivers State, no one doubted that he brought a message amounting to a full-orbed teaching to humanity. Like the Frenchman Tocqueville, Kumuyi showed that true and lasting prosperity goes beyond material wealth and riches, plenty of which Rivers State, through its oil resources could boast of. But the point is not to trust in the gift of this abundance. Instead, the Lord wants man to honour the Giver of these riches more. That, according to Kumuyi, is the non-negotiable demand from Heaven to trigger more blessings.
So, coming with the theme, Showers of Blessingsthrough Christ, the cleric said that all humanity was truly promised the goodness of their Creator. Starting with God’s famous proclamation in the Bible in Ezekiel 34:26 where He prophesizes ‘’showers of blessing’’, Kumuyi said man should go deeper than thinking of these showers only in terms of material possessions. He spoke of a transcendent possession, namely salvation of the soul, which, according to him, opens up fuller and more meaningful relationship with Heaven, the headquarters and home of all good and lasting riches.
In effect, the revered evangelist was taking his audience back to the spiritual grundnorm enunciated by Jesus Christ in Matthew 6:33: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
This is the message the whole materialistic world needs. But let’s start with Port Harcourt, capital of wealthy oil-soaked Rivers State. Its people must not be spiritually complacent, feeling self-sufficient, not conscious of a missing factor, because they have some showers of blessings already. Pastor Kumuyi said he brought the crusade to Port Harcourt to open the eyes of the people to see more depths of blessings. He told them that without first embracing Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, they would not only lose those blessings, but also they would be bereaved of joy here in the world and in the life after death. Kumuyi said “all humanity comprising all races, tribes and peoples have sinned and stand condemned before God,’’ no matter the level of their prosperity. The General Superintendent of Deeper Christian Life Ministry said the only solution is Christ’s Salvation, not a rat race for more riches or acquisition of property.
This applies to a world ensnared in the fever of explosive scientific and technological inventions and discoveries. Of course, all these are leading man to an unprecedented age of material blessings, threatening to ostracize God altogether from his world. This, argues Kumuyi, is the path of destruction, self-immolation. He called on the people to step away from the tip overlooking the consuming valley.What will follow such a wise decision to renounce worldliness and opt for the counsel of God?
Kumuyi said man will be positioned for unspeakable bliss as he settles for Christ. He proved this at the Port Harcourt crusade as he led thousands of sinners to salvation. Thereafter, following breakthrough prayers byKumuyi, God brought down miracles, healings, deliverances and signs with wonders to the people.
A man afflicted with prostate enlargement and high blood pressure was delivered. Another who was a member of a cultic society said after Pastor appeared to him in a dream he was saved from the demonic affiliation. There was the case of one who was freed from the unbearable pain after 13 years’ dislocation of his right arm. There was also the great miracle of a woman who was born with two navels. She lived with that condition for 21 years, until Kumuyi prayed and one of the navels disappeared. Incredible!
Pastor Kumuyi says the lesson from all these supernatural miracles from Heaven is that there is hope for lost man with room for more blessings than the relatively meagre showers we are celebrating at the moment. But first, he pleads, we must forsake the waywardness that separates us from God and prevents us from enjoying Him full length.
That is how Nigeria and its people can also be delivered from the challenges besetting us, the same way the United States of America was in the first half of the 19th Century.

By: Israel Mkpaoro
Dr. Mkpaoro is the Coordinator of the International Friendship League (IFL), Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

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Hostilities And Seamless Democratic Transition (II)



This is the concluding part of the above headline featured on wednesday, January 18, 2023.

According to reports, “the attack was likened to warfare with booming explosive devices and a massive exchange of gunfire between the hoodlums and security agencies, came on a day the INEC started the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, to people, who registered, recently. “The INEC raised the alarm over what it described as systematic and targeted attacks on its facilities nationwide, ahead of the 2023 general elections. “A policeman was killed in the attack, while another suffered a severe injury in the gun duel during the gunmen’s attack at the Imo State Headquarters of the INEC, Port Harcourt Road, Owerri. “This brings to three, the number of INEC offices in the state, attacked by the hoodlums since December I, 2022. The incident followed the earlier attacks on INEC’s Orlu LGA office on December 1, 2022, and the Oru West LGA office on December 4, 2022.
“Part of the INEC office was razed by the hoodlums, who used IEDs to completely burn the Election and Party Monitoring, EPM, building”. Addressing newsmen at the State Police Command’s Headquarters, Owerri, where the lifeless bodies of the hoodlums were displayed, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Michael Abattam, said: “The gunmen killed one policeman and injured another one in the gun duel that lasted for about an hour. “Five riffles, two vehicles, charms, locally made bombs, phones and money were recovered from the slain gunmen.” Governor Uzodimma, of Imo State who visited the scene blamed desperate politicians for the attack, saying that security would be adequately provided for the INEC for the distribution of the PVCs in the state. Uzodimma said: “You can see why INEC is the target
I have continuously said that what is happening in Imo State is politically inclined and that they want to make Imo State ungovernable and ensure there will be no election in Imo State. “However, security agencies are prepared. INEC is prepared and there will be an election in Nigeria. I was told the majority of them who came on this journey are lying critically ill, some are neutralised and others fled with gunshot injuries. The police are ever committed. The other sister agencies are also committed to ensuring security in the state. “My assurance is that we will have a very beautiful environment for Christmas God willing. We urge our people to come out and collect their PVCs, there will be security agencies from the ward, local government areas to the state level. It will be a fruitful exercise.” Bemoaning the attack, Dr. Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, said: “Our Imo State headquarters is located in the centre of Owerri, between a court and the state secretariat. This is, therefore, yet another systematic attack targeted at the commission’s assets across the country, more so on the day that the collection of PVCs commences nationwide ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The Atiku-Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation of the, PDP also expressed disappointment over attacks on INEC’s offices and called on Nigerians across party lines to support security services and INEC in their quest to ensure credible elections. Also, the Presidential Campaign Council of the Labour Party described the attacks as part of a larger plot to derail the 2023 general elections. Chief Spokesperson of the LP PCC, Dr. Yunusa Tanko, told Vanguard in a telephone interview that the attacks on INEC offices have been particularly high in the South-East and described the trend as worrisome. Tanko said: “It is worrisome no doubt but we will not be deterred. We see this as an attempt to give the South-East a bad name to give the impression that the people of the area don’t want elections to hold. “This is a lie. We will continue to support INEC an4epher Imumolen said: “The South-East has been agitating for too long because they feel neglected. The South-East has been marginalized and the President must wade in and ensure the region gets what it needs. “I believe that the South-East has been marginalized for too long. Nigeria is at war if we must truly say the truth but we need to unite our people but if we fail to do that, we will be seeing more attacks. “I condemn the burning of INEC officers, especially in the South-East, it is a condemnable act but we must look at the root cause and tackle it.“For us, we believe the security forces will live up to expectations to ensure that things that are needed to curb incidents like that should be totally eradicated.
In December, 2022 another INEC office was attacked in Oru West Local Government Area, three days after another INEC office was attacked in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State. The Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Festus Okoye, confirmed the attack in a statement made available to journalists. “The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Imo State, Professor Sylvia Uchenna Agu, has reported that our office in Oru West Local Government Area was attacked at about 4.00am today Sunday 4th December 2022,” Mr Okoye wrote. “The attack affected the Conference Room where office furniture and fittings were destroyed,” he added. “However, other critical facilities were not affected.”Mr Okoye said the latest attack was the seventh on INEC facilities in the last four months. ‘It would be recalled that on Thursday 1st December 2022, our office in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State was also attacked. Overall, this is the 7th attack on our facilities in five States of the Federation in the last four months.”Mr Okoye expressed concern about the systematic attack on the commission’s facilities across the country as it prepares to conduct the 2023 general elections. “Once again, the Commission expresses its concern on the consequences of what appears to be a systematic attack on its facilities across the country on the conduct of elections in particular and electoral activities in general. The attention of the security agencies has been drawn to this latest incident for investigation and prosecution” Mr Okoye said.
Four months ago, some suspected arsonists razed an INEC office in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State. Also, two offices of INEC, in May 2021, were set ablaze by gunmen in Ebonyi State. The offices are located at Ezza North and Izzi local government areas of the state. Again, in September 2021, the commission’s office was set ablaze in Awgu Local Government Area office in Enugu State. The attacks on INEC facilities around the South-east and the South-south regions, as well as on security agencies, have been attributed to the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). But the group has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attacks. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC office in Awgu, Enugu State was also not left out by the suspected hoodlums. It was gathered that the hoodlums carried out the dastard act, burning down a section of office. With combined efforts from security operatives, the fire was brought under control. Reacting to the development, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye revealed that the incident was being investigated. Resident Electoral Commissioner for Enugu State, Mr. Emeka Ononamadu, who reported the attack on the INEC office in Awgu Local Government Area of the State, noted that the section of the building where the electoral materials are kept, was completely burnt down. “Fortunately, all movable election materials were evacuated and there were no casualties”, he said.
Considering the destruction of INEC offices, it is pertinent to say that politicians, their allies and the hoodlums are yet to learn from the past. There is need for politicians to cultivate political maturity in carrying out electioneering campaigns. The cases of attacks and counter attacks are very unnecessary and dents the credibility of a process that will produce national and state leaders. “Politics Without Bitterness” was the political mantra of the founder and presidential candidate of Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP), Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri. It behoves everyone to imbibe this guiding light. All political stakeholders should ensure a smooth transition to another democratic governance. Nigeria needs free, fair, peaceful and credible elections.

By: Igbiki Benibo

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