National Flood Disaster: How Natural?
National Flood Disaster: How Natural?
By Ayo Ademiluyi
A tragic wave of flooding has engulfed some parts of the country leaving over 59 communities sacked, 38,228 people displaced, over 160 dead and 25 million people in danger.
In all 23 states are affected. The list covers even the arid Northern Nigeria with states like Sokoto, Katsina, Jigawa, Zamfara, Niger, Kogi and Kebbi affected. In Niger State, for instance, over 10 local governments are affected while in Adamawa State, 7 local governments are devastated. The Southwestern states of Ondo, Oyo, Ogun Lagos, Osun and Ekiti have their fair share of the disaster. The Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway was completely overtaken by flood. Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom in the South-South are affected. Press reports confirm 2 people dead in Enugu and destruction of communities in Anambra State.
The government at all levels and their town criers have conveniently blamed climate change for this disaster. This is specious and half truth. We hold that the complete absence of central planning and provision of basic infrastructure by the governments at all levels are responsible for worsening of this national flood disaster. For instance, major roads are constructed without adequate drainage systems and there are no contingency plans in place from outset to address the overflowing of dams without wreaking havoc on the environment.
This national tragedy only shows the failure of all sections of the capitalist ruling elite, irrespective of their parties and similar neo-liberal capitalist policies. What confirms this clearly is the terrible level of devastation in Kogi State. In what is a clear case of national embarrassment the flood forced a complete closure of the Lokoja-Abuja expressway, the only link-road between the South and the North including Abuja, the nation’s capital. This road, which is of enormous importance to the country, does not have a drainage system. This explains why the water level was so high that canoes were used to ferry people across.
However, it has been the working masses and the poor in the communities that are hardest hit with this tragedy. Yet the consequence has only shown sign of more devastation. According to Hadza Ibrahim Mailafa, the Minister of Environment, a food shortage is imminent as about 5,000 farmlands are completely flooded.
The response of both the federal and state governments at all levels are the typical half-hearted measure of the capitalist ruling elite to the sufferings and agonies of the working masses. There have been calls for a “national state of emergency” without any practical relief network being organized for persons, communities and people affected by the flooding.
We call on trade unions and pro-masses’ organizations to mount pressure on the government to rapidly provide essential relief materials for working people and the poor in these affected communities who should take up the control and distribution of the materials by themselves. Equally relief funds should be placed under the control of democratically-elected community committees which shall be responsible to mass assemblies of affected people in the communities.
We hold that fundamental way-out this disaster and other consequences of the failure of both capitalist governments and the ruling class is a revolutionary reorganization of society in which the commanding heights of the economy are democratically controlled by the working people and the needs of the society, and not the greed of the thieving capitalist ruling elite, form the basis of governance and economy.
But to achieve this the working masses and the poor need an independent and genuine working people’s political platform that can stand on this programme and bring into power a revolutionary workers and peasants’ government. Armed with a clear-cut programme of massive public works, and the thorough assessment of impacts of projects on the environment, such a working people’s government would put in place necessary critical infrastructure which will not only meet the needs of the society but also generate adequate jobs.
As a step towards such pan-Nigerian working people’s political platform, that is urgently needed, we of DSM have come up with the initiative of formation of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN). The SPN stands for a massive public works programme which is also environmental friendly, nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy under democratic working people’s control and commitment of public resources to meet the basic needs of the working people and infrastructure development. The SPN also intervenes in daily struggles of the working people and youths in workplaces, communities and schools for improved conditions and against all forms of neo-liberal capitalist attacks. We call on working people, youths and the poor to join the SPN today.