President Goodluck Jonathan has come under pressure from interest groups to declare a state of emergency in the areas ravaged by flood, Vanguard learnt yesterday.
The pressure, according to informed sources, is coming from Nigerian-based international development agencies, which strongly believe that Nigeria does not have the capacity to cope with the devastation being caused by floods nationwide.
Vanguard investigations revealed that the agencies had already met in Abuja and have written a strongly worded letter to the Presidency advising that Nigeria should immediately declare a state of emergency following the unprecedented level of flooding that has hit the country this year.
They contended that it was only through the declaration of the state of emergency that the United Nations and other international aid agencies could see reason to come to the aid of Nigeria in containing the havoc wreaked by the floods.
The development agencies are said to have pointed to the fact that current flooding in Nigeria was the worst in recent history, having displaced over 1.3 million persons from 30 states in the country and caused untold hardship to the victims, most of them peasant farmers.
The agencies further drew the attention of the Nigerian government to the statistics from Nigerian Meteorological Management Agency that increased flooding in the month of October would add additional 431 deaths to the casualty figure and lead to the displacement of 1,341,179 and injury to 29,689 persons while 610,806 houses would be destroyed and thousands of farmlands affected in 2,389 communities in 231 local government areas in the country.
One of the letters, which Vanguard sighted last night said: “In order for the United Nations and other agencies, including development partners and donors, to respond to this crisis, the procedure is that the Nigerian government needs to declare a state of emergency, and according to reliable sources, the government has been informed that this is what is required to draw international attention.
“The government has not declared the state of emergency for reasons best known to it and has also not been able to fully meet the needs of the affected persons. Reports coming from the field also suggest that Nigeria may be under threat of food crisis in 2013. Therefore, the international support required is both for the short and the long term.
“There is the need for Nigerians to demand that the government declares a state of emergency for the reasons above. Ideally, the government and the UN should lead in coordinating a rapid and effective relief operation.
“While we commend the government for the funds it has so far released and the efforts of NEMA in providing a rapid response, it is pertinent that the UN and other agencies step in to support the efforts of government as government does not have the full capacity to respond effectively to the demands of this emergency.”