The flooding tragedy
When Permanent Secretary Nasir Sani Gwarzo issued his statement last Friday, alerting the nation to flood crisis that had engulfed several communities in the land, account had not been taken of the devastation in Anambra and Bayelsa states. Governor Douye Diri was paddled in a canoe through streets overtaken by floods to see things for himself. Water reached the edge of the roof in several areas he visited. Electricity transformers were submerged and the authority in the areas promptly shut down to prevent electrocution. The fierce water exhumed bodies from Azikoro Government Cemetery. The decaying bodies, according to Environment Commissioner Iselema Gbaranbiri, were retrieved from the jaws of the violent water, and reburied before they could constitute health hazards to the residents. The area was fumigated as well. Even then the community that is host to the cemetery is pressing for its relocation. While still in his boots and visibly shaken, the governor made a state-wide broadcast in which he said his state had been hit by humanitarian tragedy on a large scale and cried out for help from the Federal Government and donor organisations.
Mr. Gwarzo, of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development revealed in his statement that more than 500 persons had died across the country in the floods as of last week Tuesday. In his words:
“Over 1.4 million were displaced, about 500 persons have been reported dead, 790, 254 persons moved out of their locations and 1,546 were injured.”
He went on to state that 45, 249 houses had been completely damaged, 76,168 hectares of farmlands were partially destroyed and 70,566 completely destroyed “in casualties and displacements from Nigeria’s devastating flood crisis this year.” The National Emergency Management Agency has been reported to have stated that as of last month, no fewer than 300 people had died and more than 100, 000 persons displaced since the beginning of the rainy season.
Indeed, according to a related report, 80 persons died in the attempt to flee. The previous week, the shocking report of 76 people who died by drowning in Anambra filled airwaves. Their boat capsized trying to avoid aggressive high floodwaters. Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello described the flooding in his state as the worst. He said:
“Flooding in Kogi State is more than any flood anywhere.” In the similar vein as his Bayelsa opposite number, Bello appealed for help to assuage the sufferings of his people: “I call on the Federal Government, I call President Buhari, I call on World Bank and all other donor agencies to come to our aid.”
It is believed that about 21 million people are affected globally by river floods every year and it is feared that the figure will rise to 54 million by 2030, just about eight years away. Already, as of last month, according to CNN, 33 million people have been hit by deadly flooding in Pakistan, also described as extreme.
Earlier in the year, the Director General, National Emergency Management Agency, Mustapha Ahmed, had said that 233 local government areas in 32 states together with Abuja Federal Capital Territory would be adversely affected by flood this year. True to his prediction, among the worst hit so far are Adamawa, Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Anambra, Imo, Delta and Bayelsa. Some of the upland states in the northern fringes of the country, intriguingly, among them Jigawa, Katsina, Gombe, Bauchi have been swept by floods. In the North –Central, Niger and Taraba states have been hit, too. The experiences of Nigerians in places badly hit by the angry floods are similar to those living in Florida and its corridor in the yearly hurricane devastation in the United States.
This year, Hurricane Ian swept through the corridor destroying entire communities, leaving 76 persons dead in Florida and four in North Carolina, 1,100 were rescued. Many did not have drinking water as pipes and taps were wrecked. It was reported that 689, 000 had severe power outage. The calamities arising from the wrath of Nature has been blamed on Climate Change.
What all this has demonstrated is that man is increasingly reaching his wits end. I recall some years ago the incident of a cyclone sweeping through 16 of Banladesh’s 64 districts, accompanied by a tidal wave which left about 139,000 persons dead. Ten million people were affected one way or the other. As the storm subsided, the region was plunged into another round of distress. Consequent upon disruptions caused to food and water supplies, an epidemic of cholera broke out. It was feared that half a million people were hit by the disease out of whom 500 were confirmed dead. As scientists preoccupied with the phenomenon are wont to say, the tragedy in South-East Asia strikes ritualistically every year. And when it happens water, food and clothes are flown from nearly every part of the globe to the victims. Health teams, care givers, Red Cross and doctors without frontiers rush in with the milk of human kindness flowing in the veins. It is one occasion humanity demonstrates that blood is thicker than water.
One can’t but be touched by this scale of destruction and attendant misery. The mien of Diri said it all when he made his broadcast on Tuesday. It was a troubled face. He was visibly shaken. What with bodies floating freely in the raging floods! What with displaced people struggling, families in schools turned into IDP camps pulling and pushing to have their own share of a lorry load of rice and oil among the foodstuffs already rushed to them by Governor Wike of Rivers State. The images of the suffering as also in Niger State are unflattering. They are what, even if momentarily, forces thinking human beings into reflections. Man looks on helplessly when volcanic eruptions pour hot lava over large areas, killing in thousands, or rivers burst their banks as in the perennial case of River Benue. Consider crops submerged in floods—in Gombe and some areas in the East where swaths of farm land hitherto brandishing rice only days away from harvesting were buried in the turbulent floods! In the developed world, in the United States for example, most times, scientific gadgets specifically designed to forewarn men, in seeming show of conspiracy, refuse to pick signals sent by Nature.
What is intriguing, however, is that hardly are animals and birds, hardly are reptiles such as snakes, caught in the crossfire of natural catastrophes. Man-made disasters, yes: oil spill in the creeks, on oceans and farmlands, fire, nuclear blasts, etc. But hardly do we read of animals killed, wounded or birds rendered homeless in a natural catastrophe. How many animals went down when the Atlantis disappeared about 14, 530 years ago? Yes, man is the higher animal.
The lower ones, animals, which are without any technological covers protect themselves, except those caged in zoological gardens which have no way of escape. When they are trapped, it is not for lack of efforts to escape into safety. Lions roar; there is unceasing barking of dogs. Hyenas, monkeys and elephants run up and down to break free from their enclosures. Snakes flee, making their peculiar noise. Those in the forest take care of themselves. The question then arises: How do they do it? Why is man caught in devastating disasters, but never a bird? Human beings do not give thought to this. It is because animals, reptiles, birds and so on are closer to Nature than man. In fact, the modern is not connected at all. When a natural disaster is about to occur, animals pick the signals and warning from Nature, specifically from Nature Beings, also referred to as elemental beings, animistic beings, or forces of Nature which have taken on forms. These are gnomes, elves, nixies, salamanders and nymphs. They are forces that form rocks, build the earth, form trees and tend them. (The female elves, for example, tend flowers, and the male elves, the trunk and stem). Nixies are the water forces responsible for forming water, putting molecules of hydrogen and oxygen together (H2O). (Mammy water, apologies to music legend Victor Uwaifo, now of blessed memory); salamanders using forces of nature, that is precipitations from the Rays of Power of the Holy Spirit, to start and tend fires; and nymphs, air and wind.
The ancient peoples were aware of them, and they allowed themselves to be led and taught by them, taught what leaves to eat and those to use to heal their ailing bodies. Nowhere is it recorded that our forebears in this part of the world performed experiment in a laboratory on okro to determine its edibility. But the man of today has banished these beings to the realm of fables. When one checks their meanings in the dictionary, the lexicologists dismiss them as myths. Matthew, one of the Disciples records one of the experiences with the Lord Jesus Christ when a fierce wind threatened to sink their ship:
“And he saith unto them: Why are ye afraid, o ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea: and there was a great calm. But the men marveled, saying: What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” (Matthew 8, 26-27).
There are several passages in the Bible that enlighten us about the existence of the formed forces of nature. The Lord being Who He was and still is saw the beings and they too recognised Him and calmed their storming activities. Genuine children are those sill blessed to see them in these times, but not the adults. The ancient people themselves thought they were gods because of their uncommon beauty and perfection, and helping disposition, teaching them when to plant and when to harvest. There is hardly any people in the Middle Belt and Southern States of this country that do not celebrate harvest festival. In the East and the West the festival is between August and September. The Yoruba people call it Odun Orisa Oko. They gather tubers of yam as symbol of fertility brought about by the elemental beings that make this possible. The people of old in appreciation for their help, mistaking them for gods, worshipped them. This was and is still wrong and the nature beings moved away, leaving mankind to worship demons which are creations of human volitions. These beings are the builders of our world, the estate of the Most High. They are the house holders who maintain the world. Many who sense them regard them as angels. “And there we saw giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our in our own sight as grasshoppers” (Numbers 13, 33). There are also Leaders of the Elements. In the recognition of Paul the Apostle, we read as follows:
“For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of Whom we are all things, and we in Him ; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all and we by him.” 1 Corinthians 8, 5-6). (This is subject for some other day).
The elemental beings, renew the bowels of the earth crust where and when necessary. It is their activities which are regarded as earthquakes. They restore balance where human activities have brought about disequilibrium such as mining or dam constructions. Not once does it happen that a monkey has been killed by a fallen tree or a bird by a branch of the tree that gives way seemingly “without warning.” Long before the tree falls, the bird has moved away carrying its young ones to safety. But a man gets killed when his own house caves in. He is dense, unaware of the automatic happenings around him. He is unaware of the Law of Movement. Consequently he violates it. But life is motion; any man or community that cannot keep the rhythm of Creation will be thrown off. They will not be able to pick the signals or warnings being beamed to them by the elemental beings. It is man’s fault that he can no longer sense the animistic and spiritual helps that surround him. Aside from the help from warnings from these beings, another help afforded man is his intuitive ability. This is a faculty with which women are more blessed than men!
(TO BE CONCLUDED NEXT WEEK).