THE NATION ON SUNDAY DECEMBER 30, 2012
PERSON OF THE YEAR
OW best can the just ended year 2012 be described if not that of the nation’s annus horribilis, the year of horrors when the tempest and torrents descended? The revulsion of waters could not have been a consequence of the wrath of God, being a global phenomenon, but the fury of nature that led to flooding and submerging of most parts of the country. Perhaps, it would not be litotes to say that the country was drowning in the year that could easily pass for an epoch of displacements. The consequences: Hundreds of thousands were displaced in all the geographical zones of the country. Victims became refugees in their habitats, sometimes ancestral lands; billions of naira lost to destruction of farmlands, properties and the disruptions of economic activities; more unimaginable was the loss of several lives of people to the raging floods that unexpectedly ravaged the nation. The chronology of the lethal flood of meanness across the states says it all about the level of witnessed ruination. To start wit: Benue State was intensely devastated by flood in 2012. The River Benue overflowed its banks while residences and other structures and farmlands within close radius of the River and beyond were destroyed. In areas such as KatsinaAla, Makurdi, Otukpo, Agatu, Kucha Otebe, Gyado Villa, brick factories in Wadata, over 10,000 houses, business places, huts and farmlands were reportedly destroyed or submerged by the raging flood. Thousands of people were displaced and were given temporary succour
2012: Year of flood
By Mobolaji Sanusi
in camps set up by government. The Benue State University and the newly constructed Benue University Teaching Hospital and the corporate headquarters of state-owned transportation company, Benue Links Nigeria, were not spared. Cross River state was one of the most affected flood-ridden states in 2012. Not less than 79, 000 people were displaced by natural disasters in the course of the year. Out of the 79,000, more than 49, 918 were displaced as a result of the release of water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon. The flood in Cross River state reportedly affected 178 communities, killed 11 persons and destroyed 15 churches, 13 schools and 18
markets. The worst hit was Biase Local Government Area where 18 communities were made desolate; while 11 persons drowned, eight churches, six schools and nine markets destroyed. At Umon Island in Biase, a seven-year-old girl was killed, three declared missing while two were taken to hospital where they were receiving treatments following an overflow of the Cross River that swept away the community. In Edo state, not less than 500,000 persons are now refugees in their home land due to flooding arising from the overflow of the River Niger. The ravaging flood took over 20 communities just as it destroyed farmlands, buildings and other valuable properties in the process. Indeed, what a year
of flood horror? The flood that occurred in Niger state in 2012 led to the loss of 49 lives with 117 communities displaced and not less than 663,000 remotely or directly affected. The effect was devastating because of the heavy rainfall that was complemented by excess water released from the three hydro-electricity Dams of Shiroro, Jebba and Kainji during the course of the year. The root cause of flood displacement in Kwara state was the water from Rivers Niger and Kaduna and was further compounded by heavy rainfall and the overflow of Jebba dam. More devastating was the report during the year that residents of more than 86 communities were displaced while, in 16 communities, one million
hectares of rice and maize farmlands were completely submerged by the ravaging floods from both rivers. Among the affected communities were KpataGbaradogi, Gunji-Saaci, Gbafun, Gakpan, Vuma, Esungi and Mawogi among others. The worth of the damage caused by the flood in Kwara was estimated to be not less than N300 million. Delta state was not spared the wrath of nature as flood wrecked serious havoc on some areas and inhabitants, including their properties. Not less than three persons, including a royal father who drowned during evacuation, were reported to have died. Also, over 300,000 persons were rendered homeless in 220 communities in the state in
The other displaced Nigerians I T took the angry burst of flood waters and havoc it wreaked to draw attention to the plight of fellow citizens in distress. However, it seems unlikely that the story of one Olubiyi Odunaro would draw attention to the fate of the other tribe of displaced citizens –the victims of the financial services sector restructuring that has endured for more than half of the past decade. The Odunaro story, obviously typifies the tales of the thousands left in the lurch in the aftermath of the banking reforms. His story started when his bank, Hallmark Bank failed to scale the recapitalisation hurdle. By December 2005 when the regulators drew curtains on the banking consolidation exercise, the likes of Odunaro would discover that a career carefully built over the years had gone up like a smoke. First was the shock from the loss of a job; then followed the realisation that the bank which promised him security at the end of his tenure was in no position to settle his entitlements. Like an orphan, he found himself abandoned by the regulator that had no contingency plans in place to offer him succour. At the time of his disengagement, he was already a senior manager. Of course, this is 2012. Six years after, the mess seems far from cleared. That perhaps explains why on October 24, Odunaro
By Sanya Oni
would fire a memo to President Jonathan to intimate him of his plight. His memo was to convey his decision to embark on hunger strike should the concerned agencies of government fail to settle his claims – as indeed those of the hordes of disengaged staff of the banks. He gave the number of the banks and the individuals involved as 14 and 14,000 respectively with a deadline of October 31 for the President to act. As it turned out, nothing happened. On November 12, he made good his threat. He secured a place along the busy Mobolaji Bank Anthony highway in Lagos, and with a camp bed in tow, he converted the place to a temporary residence – until the Lagos State governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, stepped in with a promise to take the matter up with the authorities. It was after then that he agreed to shelve the hunger strike to return home. By this time, he had spent two weeks. The case of ex-staffer of Afribank would seem far less dramatic although the substance of their claim is in every respect, similar. In the latter case, at issue was the instrument of transfer which ceded all deposit liabilities, certain other liabilities and all assets of their bank, Afribank, to a new entity, renamed Mainstreet Bank. The workers claimed that the managers of the new entity dealt them a bad card when they excluded the pension liabilities and gratuities
of their former entity in the instrument of transfer. The workers, many of whom had spent decades with the defunct bank, found themselves in a limbo. First, they were they told that their employment had ended – since their bank was now defunct. Worse however is that their expectation of a just severance package would be similarly dashed; the new employers offered them a paltry one month salary in lieu of notice! The same fate will also befell the 140 sacked workers of Enterprise Bank formerly Spring Bank. On August 17, it was the turn of the latter to embark on strike to protest what they considered as their unlawful sack. But then, the bank workers are hardly the only endangered Nigerian specie. Among the throng are the victims of failed economic policies, the by-products of the unrelenting wave of de-industrialisation that has been ravaging the economy – an economy that has failed to lift despite claims of outlandish growth. Orphaned by the endless structural adjustments and reforms that have produced more misery than meaningful growth, they wait in vain for social security safety net to ease their pains. For being stoic in the face of tribulations, they certainly earned their place among those in contention for our Man of the Year 2012.
the most recent sea surge in 2012. That year’s flood is unprecedented as it was also largely caused by the release of water from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon. Bayelsa state witnessed flood that was reportedly unprecedented in the last 50 years. The flood led to destruction of inhabitants’ means of livelihood of fishing and farmland. Also, schools were temporarily shut down in the flood communities were due to the enormous volume of water that nearly submerged the entire state, leaving thousands of Bayelsans displaced in its wake. Kogi state, especially Lokoja, its capital, witnessed severe consequences of flood that led to the destruction of lives and property. Thousands of people were equally displaced as most affected inhabitants still live in refugee camps set up by government and donor agencies. As at the turn of the year, the recorded total number of deaths in the relief camps of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) had risen to 20. Two of the victims from the worst hit area of Ibaji Local Government Area reportedly committed suicide having been frustrated by the heavy losses they incurred. Not less than 30,000 victims are in the camps by the end of the year. In Lagos state, the heavy rainfall of mid2012 caused flooding that led to gridlock on major roads. But the government of the state was quite responsive in tackling the flood before it went off the track. In Ibadan, Oyo state capital, flooding in mid-2012 caused some residents at Challenge, Oke-Ayo, and Eleyele to flee from their residences. The flooding caused the caving-in of some bridges too. In Plateau state, not less than 39 people were killed; over 3,000 became homeless while 35 were declared missing due to flooding in Jos, its capital. Heavy rainfall caused the Lamingo dam to overflow near Jos, sweeping across a number of neighbourhoods. It was reported that over 200 homes were submerged. Without equivocation, the above have shown that flood stood out in 2012, albeit for the wrong reason. The menace disobeyed geographical delineation and made serious mockery of planning by reminding us all that its fury could be perilous not only to Nigeria but the entire world.
The Nation December 30, 2012