Flooding: Osinbajo’s solutions truncate campaigners’ politricks

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, presides over the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Council Chambers in the Statehouse, Abuja, on Wednesday, October 26, 2022. Photo: Statehouse/Tolani Alli

By Seyi Gesinde

Flood is now everywhere, it has destroyed lives, submerged buildings, swallowed up valuables and generally constitutes a great danger to the survival of people living around waterlogged communities.

To arrest the situation, in his usual rapid-response approach to emergencies, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, had swiftly rallied the state governors, while raising national awareness among direct stakeholders to immediately rescue affected Nigerians.

A man wades through floodwaters in Makurdi, Nigeria. Photo: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

Pushing this further, the Vice President using the instrumentality of the National Economic Council (NEC) had set up more formal modalities to lead all the 36 state governors in containing the floods currently ravaging Nigerian states.

At the last NEC meeting, the Vice President summoned, precisely on Thursday, October 20, 2022, the Council resolved to constitute a committee of the Federal Government and State Governors to liaise with critical stakeholders to find long-term solutions to flooding problems across the country, while an allowance was also made to support both the medium and short term efforts in mitigating the impact of flooding in the affected states.

Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State attested to the presidential support while giving details of their meeting presided over by VP Osinbajo, and said part of the problem being faced was as a result of climate change, the Council, however, resolved to work towards forestalling future occurrences.

“NEC agreed to set up a committee to look at the immediate solutions and interventions over the flooding and to see how we take care of those who were affected and states too. And also to proffer long-term solutions in line with what the Minister of Water Resources is doing together with the action plan of the President in this regard,’’ Umahi said.

Similarly at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by the VP on Wednesday, October 26, 2022, a follow-up was made on the agreement reached, while other immediate efforts of the FG in arresting the situation were detailed by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, to include medical support which has been provided to 199 Local Government Areas affected by flooding across the country.

There was also the provision of portable water through fire vehicles in the northern and central states of Jigawa, Kano, Benue and Kogi where the flooding problems were first experienced, while the same gesture was also extended to the southern states.

In the southern states, it was said that military surveillance and aerial assessment of communities were mounted to guide the ground rescue efforts and evacuation of victims of the flood, while the distribution of relief materials to affected states has commenced.

In her brief, Farouq said as of October 21, 2022, records indicated that no fewer than 3.2 million persons were affected by flooding in Nigeria, with 1,427, 370 persons internally displaced; 2,776 persons injured: 612 lives lost; 181,600 houses partially damaged and 123, 807 others completely damaged, 392,399 hectares of farmlands have been totally destroyed so far.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, when he visited flood-ravaged communities in Anambra State, in 2018. File photo

The damages are huge, and as we know, Vice President Osinbajo being a stickler for promptness in responding to troubled Nigerians and in solving issues of general concern, to him these problems must be permanently solved. Recalled in 2018, when Nigeria was faced with a similar challenge, it was Prof Osinbajo, the first public servant to visit the Anambra, Delta, Niger, Rivers and Bayelsa communities devastated by floods. The Vice President even put a canoe on the water to connect with dejected Nigerians in waterlogged areas. He deployed the government’s resources and eased Nigerians’ sufferings.

In those states, VP Osinbajo ensured that everyone adversely affected was quickly resettled and livelihoods restored in affected areas. Specifically, he visited Zungeru Primary School in Niger State, where those displaced by the flooding problems were camped, just as he was also at Otuoch Local Government Area of Anambra State, where the overflowing water had caused havoc. His visit was a suiting balm, he gave them succour.

But now that the calamitous floods are rising again four years after, its remedy is beyond this theatre in the round approach we now see our politicians applying, turning the flooded communities to like filming location centres and taking turns in playing to the gallery, all in the name of politics, trying to outshine each other with no cogent evidence of how to solve the issue in their manifestoes.

These politicians’ less impressive approach to the flooding problems other than to indict individuals in government they were formerly part of while pontificating on what they would have done in power with no empirical basis amounts to politricking. The gifts they dropped are commendable, but a more lasting solution is needed. The same victims of the flood got a lot of donations, even from more committed individuals and organisations in 2018, but it still didn’t stop their problems from recurring, even with more devastating force now.

Instead of proffering solutions, the politicians are only amplifying the problems for campaign purposes, and their supporters attacking government leaders, especially the Vice President as if nothing is being done. Yet, in 2018 or before then when some of these gladiators were governors, today, they aren’t referring to the fact that it was Osinbajo thinking out the solutions for them in their states then. What did some of them as governors do with the ecological funds?

As we can see, the situation rather today, requires a more strategic approach, especially as the problem appears bigger than it was, it is not a matter of canoeing again but pausing and pondering on what could be a lasting solution and quickly implementing it, which is exactly what VP Osinbajo is seen to be doing now from the powerhouse.

Just like in the words of Elizabeth Williams, who said: “There was no use talking about the problem unless you talk about the solution,” our politicians need to learn from this great woman, a peace activist, who was a co-recipient with Mairead Corrigan of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her peaceful resolution to the troubles in her country, Northern Ireland. She wasn’t talking about the problems, she solved them. This is Osinbajo’s present preoccupation as a problem-solver, he is solving the problems.

So, those critical of Osinbajo not touring around the flooded states unlike before also need to understand that, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them,” as adumbrated by Albert Einstein, that great German-born theoretical physicist, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest and most influential physicists of all time. Einstein wasn’t canoeing about and giving alms to troubled souls, he solved their problems permanently. Osinbajo is solving it too; he is mobilising for a permanent solution to flooding problems in Nigeria.

In essence, it is under this permanent problem-solving mode that VP Osinbajo is currently operating, having associated with the people for years and knowing their problems, he is now busy proffering lasting solutions to them. If there is a very pressing need that makes it compelling for him to ferry on the floodwater, why not? But instead of badmouthing an achiever, aspiring leaders and naysayers should learn from Osinbajo’s example of how to be a successful public servant.

• Gesinde, an award-winning journalist, is a political scientist and public affairs analyst.