Yobe floods and Buni’s interventions

Today, certain natural indicators and befalling floods tragedies around the globe are threatening the survival of millions of lives; many are being killed including human beings and animals with various assets as well as farmlands destroyed. In what appears to be a worldwide drift, many countries around the world have been severely hit by the deadly inundation.

On the far-off scenes, Pakistan is one of the hardest-hit countries. Addressing world leaders, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif, said, “For 40 days and 40 nights, a biblical flood poured down, smashing centuries of weather records, challenging everything we knew about disaster and how to manage it.” He went on to give first-hand detail of the scale and magnitude of the catastrophe facing his country, where floods caused by record monsoon rains and melting glaciers have killed more than 1,600 people since June. He also warned that climate change will not spare other countries considering the sort of disaster that left up to one third of his country underwater and millions of its children at risk of water-borne diseases.

Like Pakistan and other flood ravaged nations, Nigeria isn’t left out. The country is battling its worst deluges in a decade with more than 300 people killed in 2022; the figures are still tallying up. As the rain is still pouring, the floods have wreaked havoc in 27 of out Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, with states like Yobe, Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna gravely affected.

In mostly affected states, the devastating floods have destroyed crops in many farmlands; houses and many buildings were guzzled underwater, and bridges were also taken off. Besides the glaring insecurity bedeviling mostly Nigeria’s northern region, particularly, the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east and banditry and kidnappings in the North-west, both zones produce much of what the country eats, there are rising concerns that the floods could further affect food production and supplies already disrupted by armed conflicts in the regions.

It’s obvious that in stints of calamities of such enormities like the prevailing floods, state and non-state actors are expected to activate strategies in mitigating the damaging effects of the ruins on the affected citizens. In Jigawa state, nearly 100 lives are reportedly lost from flooding in recent days, more than any state in the country. While Yobe, the second state in the North ravaged by the floods, recorded substantial number of deaths, especially from boat mishaps, several communities submerged, bridges linking Yobe to adjoining local government areas and states being cut off and farmlands and produce destroyed.

In all these, what the affected and displaced victims of the floods need are to have urgent interventions from the government at all levels, succour from non-governmental organisations, wealthy individuals are all required. In fact, the Yobe state governor’s extraordinary expression of worries on the predicament of his people is legendary. I listened to a flood victim from one of the hardest-hit states, lamenting on the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that his governor was enjoying tax payers’ money relaxing outside of the country while his people are dying from the floods. This is distressing and mind-boggling. It’s needless mentioning any name, but the twosome governors’ approach demonstrates the fact that they understand leadership from different prism.

For Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe state, his people’s plight is his utmost priority. Buni, who was away from the state for an official engagement when the disaster hit Yobe communities, had to cut short his trip to return to the state and inspect the affected communities with a view to ascertain the quantum of damage and providing mitigating plans to the ravaged communities. Buni had on September 19, 2022, used a helicopter to aerially inspect flood ravaged communities, boats; vehicles were used to access other communities washed away by floods, while detaching some roads and communities.

Buni, while at Jumbam, commiserated with the district head and community members over the loss of over 10 families in a boat mishap. He urged all and sundry – community leaders, security agencs and others – to be cautious while using the boats as he directed immediate reconstruction of all the affected roads. This is highly commendable.

In the interim, Buni who is perceptibly worried and touched by the devastating level of the floods in state had swiftly set up a standing committee on floods disaster. The deputy governor of the state, Hon. Idi Barde, is the chairman of the committee, while the executive secretary of State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) is the secretary. Members are Speaker, Yobe state House of Assembly, APC state party chairman, Secretary to the State Government, Head of Civil Service and several commissioners.

The terms of reference of the committee are; to assess the extent of the damage caused by the flood across the state, advise government on how best to render assistance to the victims to cushion their suffering, advice on how to limit the consequences of flood especially in areas prone to flooding, liaise with the federal agencies to support the state and the victims of the flood disaster, arrange special delegation comprising all political and public office holders from their respective local government areas ravaged by the flood to visit the area and commiserate with the victims, and any other advise that the committee deems necessary in the course of their assignment.

In fact, while doing all these, SEMA team led by its executive secretary, Mohammed Goje, were busy conducting assessments and responding to the victims’ immediate needs including sharing food basket to worse affected families who needed to cross the water to the harmless plain before putting food on their tables. Meanwhile, many affected communities have been graciously supported to reduce the traffic in using the boats.

As committed as the governor, throughout the distressing period, the SEMA team have been distributing food basket for the displaced victims as directed by Buni, expressly in places like Jakusko and Bade where over 2000 flood victims are currently displaced. In addition, Full Multi Sectoral Need Assessment, MSNA, is ongoing to ascertain losses, needs, and to ensure their safety. In spite of the fact that some of the affected locations are hard to reach, SEMA in synergy with various stakeholders are mobilising canoes and using alternative routes to reach the victims.

It’s while giving a standing ovation to Buni over his demonstration of sheer commitment, leadership qualities, and political will in discharging his duties as the governor and servant leader, I deem it pertinent to urge the federal government, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), North East Development Commission (NEDC), Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, and all other relevant government and non-governmental organisations to partner with the Yobe state government in mitigating the adverse effects of the floods and rebuilding the ravaged communities. The devastation is beyond the shoulders of the state government, especially, at this critical time of dim economy. Truly, Governor Buni is a creation of a hero out of ruptures!

Mohammed writes from Abuja.