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Reuben Abati: Floods And The Rainmakers Of Lagos Island



Reuben Abati

By Reuben Abati

“To live in Lagos Island, these days, one needs to engage the services of rainmakers during the rainy season”, a friend who lives in that part of Lagos told me the other day. The job of a rainmaker, as known in our traditional communities, is actually to stop the rain from falling or to divert the rain to other locations, to allow people to hold an event without the threat of a heavy rainfall disturbing guests and participants. In those days when social parties used to be held more on open fields rather than event centres, the rainmaker was a necessary component to ensure positive outcomes. He deploys chants and an appeal to the supernatural, the invisible spiritual consciousness, to halt nature from taking a disruptive course. But who has ever heard of anyone stopping the rains from falling on a permanent basis?

My friend said that was not the intention, but that at the last Landlords/Residents Association meeting that was held in the estate where he lives in Lagos Island, one of the ideas that came up was that every rainy season, the estate could engage the services of rainmakers, to protect the estate from heavy rainfall and flooding. Someone reportedly actually recommended an uncle of his who is said to be a renowned rainmaker! I dismissed the idea as hare-brained and impracticable.

But it is possible to understand the reason for this desperation. The last time it rained heavily in Lagos, about a week or more ago, the better part of the Island was flooded. On Ahmadu Bello Way, a fellow was seen swimming comfortably, two men jumped into their canoes and rowed around with relish. The nearby ocean and rivers had spilled onto the road, due to the rise in the water level, resulting in the displacement of animals from their natural habitat, pollution and destruction.

The pictures were shown of a fish that was found in the flood, and of a crocodile that followed the flow of water into living spaces. Vehicles and homes were submerged. In some homes, the families were trapped upstairs, the water level having travelled as high as the windowsill. When some families finally managed to escape, they had to relocate to hotels or the homes of family and friends. Families were disorganised and separated. Some people came down with fever and water borne diseases and many are yet to recover. The state government had to close down the road.

Given the number of high profile businesses in that part of the city, the financial worth of recorded losses was huge. Real estate investment in Victoria Island alone is worth over $12 billion and with those structures being assailed regularly by acidic flood; it won’t be long before they gave way. The inherent paradox here is that whereas capitalism exploits nature and its resources for profit, it is in turn destroyed by it.

Flooding is a major, global environmental crisis, and the effect has always been devastating. Since 1960, Nigeria has been exposed to perennial flash and river floods. In the 80s, the overflow of the Ogunpa river caused so much damage in Ibadan, resulting in the popular phrase: “Omiyale”. The identified reason was that people were throwing garbage into the river; drainages and other water channels had also been blocked with refuse. The release of water from the Oyan dam also in other years resulted in massive flooding affecting places like Ogunpa, Challenge and Eleyele in Ibadan, and when the Ogun dam is drained, several parts of Ogun State are flooded. Each time water is released from the Lagdo dam in Cameroon there is flooding in Benue and Taraba states, farmlands are destroyed, raising fears about food crisis.

There have also been reports of flooding in the coastal plains of Nigeria, in the plains of the Niger Delta, the Rivers Niger and Benue particularly, and in the Plateau area whenever the Lamingo dam overflows. The worst flood in Nigeria occurred between July and November 2012. Thirty states out of 36 states of the Federation were affected, 2.1 million people were displaced, 363 people died, 6, 000 houses were destroyed. It was the worst flood in 40 years.

Whenever there is a major case of flooding in Nigeria, the standard response by government is to announce a relief and rehabilitation fund and express profound sympathy. The Nigerian government is certainly very good at expressing sympathy! In 2012, the Jonathan administration announced the immediate release of N17.6 billion. This year, Acting President Osinbajo responded in similar manner by approving the release of N1.6 billion. In some other parts of the world, steps are taken to ensure that the effect of flooding is mitigated, and controlled on a sustainable basis. Throwing money at the problem without any strategic plan to address the natural and artificial causes of flooding has not helped Nigeria over the years. Apparently, the only people who enjoy flooding are the government officials who manage these funds. Since 1980 and the award of a N10 billion contract, the channelization of the Ogunpa River in Ibadan is yet to be completed, 37 years later!

Obviously, the problem of flooding is not likely to disappear so soon. The Federal Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Water Resources and the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) have announced, following the floods this year in Lagos (losses already defined above), Jos (38 people died, 200 houses destroyed); Suleja (13 dead, 500 missing, 100 homes destroyed) and Kaita, Katsina (2,000 people displaced, 150 houses destroyed) that there is likely to be much worse flooding in 30 states of the Federation between July and November 2017. This sounds like a possible re-enactment of the 2012 scenario. While environmental habits may be responsible for much of the flooding that occurs, the key message that perennial flooding conveys is partly the real dangers of global warming and climate change.

African countries are negatively affected by this phenomenon and with most Nigerian communities located in low-lying areas, heavy rainfall could often result in ocean surge, flooding, erosion, or an imbalance in the ecosystem. In Nigeria, we have not yet developed mechanisms for managing the vagaries of nature. We take things for granted as a people, and as government. We defy nature and pay the price for so doing. In the absence of a functional waste management system in our cities, people continue to throw garbage into the seas and drainages. Managing the risks of climate change and environmental challenges is not a job for rainmakers; it requires more strategic thinking in terms of urban renewal, citizen education and policy execution.

Much of the disasters that we face today with increased flooding and our climate-sensitive agricultural sector was long foretold. More than a decade ago, for example, Professor Benjamin Akpati of the Nigeria Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research used to warn both Lagosians and the Federal government about the chaotic spread of residential developments in Lagos Island, a part of Lagos that has always been water-logged. In the 60s, the beachfront of the Atlantic was more than a mile away from where it is today. Professor Akpati argued that the aggressive extension of constructions into the river space would lead to a day when with a dramatic rise in the water level, the entire Lagos Island would drown or disappear into the water. Nobody listened.

Government after government kept approving the reclamation of land from the sea. Today, many buildings in Lagos Island are practically sitting on a foundation of water. Reclamation continues unabated, from Ilubirin to Park View to Lekki, and beyond; on the other side of the island, the sea is being chased further away. Recently, the Lagos state government further decided to take over Otodo-Gbame and 38 other waterfront communities, the poor who live there are still protesting, and have since gone to court to secure a restraining injunction, for they remember what happened to old Maroko and other spaces that the government took away from the poor and gave to the rich.

There is even a project in Lagos Island called Eko Atlantic City, which when fully developed would be a mini-city on top of the ocean. The Nigeria elite has developed a taste for living “inside water” and yet when the water overflows into their compounds and sitting rooms, they raise an alarm about what is at best, self-inflicted injury.

This probably explains why when the recent floods occurred in Lagos Island, most Lagosians living in the Mainland turned the incident into a matter of class warfare. They laughed at the elite living on the island. A plot of land in some high-brow parts of the Island is as expensive as $2 million and yet when it rains heavily and the ocean overflows its banks, the people flee. “The rich also cry”, someone said. “Evans does not allow me stay in Magodo, I cannot go to Lekki because of flood, I am afraid of Badoo in Ikorodu, where do I now live?”, another asked.

I don’t find the agony of the Victoria Island elite amusing, but I think beyond the concern about drainages and the way we treat the environment, the Lagos state government should put a stop to further reclamation of land from the sea. The old story was that the state government had built barriers and embarkments along the Bar Beach but in the past two years, those barriers have not saved Lagos Island from ocean surge.

Man may have developed the capacity to tame nature, after all, there are cities and houses built undersea, but with all his endowments, man remains a slave of nature. Human beings are constantly seeking unity with nature, to reduce their fears of its enormity and therefore master it, but through our interaction with the environment that is outside of us; we disrupt nature and create new patterns that violate the ecosystem and the cosmic harmony that we seek.

We cut down the trees in the forest, we pollute the environment, we fail to manage human waste, but because nature is dynamic and mercurial, it fights back and we pay the price. In the South West, ocean surge, blocked drainage, and failed dams are the problem, in the East and the South East, erosion and flood, in the Benue and Plateau, flood and mismanagement of dams, in the North, deforestation and flooding. Nigeria’s climate is definitely changing and we are all at risk and it could get worse.

In May, scientists reported that the Antarctica’s ice sheet is melting more rapidly into the sea, the effect of which is a rise in sea levels across the world, placing the world’s coastal cities at great risk. This would include cities like Lagos, of course, and the entire Niger Delta region. Increase in green gas emission and global temperatures could even make the projected scenarios more devastating. The prediction is that sometime in the future, there could be another Noah’s flood. If that happens, many inhabitants of low-lying coastal areas would be forced to abandon their homes and relocate.

Even in Europe and Asia where the technology for invasive environmental activity is advanced, recent natural phenomena have indicated the limits of technology. In Nigeria, many communities and coastal islands have since disappeared due to erosion and ocean surge, and in the North, deforestation and desertification have proved fatal. Now imagine a scenario some day when all residents of Lagos Island and other coastal parts of Nigeria would have to flee inland. A disastrous environmental crisis in Lagos, which accounts for about 40% of the Nigerian economy could prove apocalyptic for both the country and the populace, and this is precisely why the Federal Government must take a special interest in Lagos State and general matters of the environment. To save our corner of the Earth, we must adapt to the realities of the new age, and change the way we live.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Oriental Times

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We Must Renounce Our Tribal Identities; I’m Nigerian NOT Igbo



Fredrick Nwabufo

By Fredrick Nwabufo

The recent current of the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the US has surged tremendously in Nigeria – a country in the thrall of its own unique kind of ‘’racism’’ – tribalism. Nigerians held protests at the embassy of the US in Abuja, condemning the murder of George Floyd, an African-American, by a Caucasian Minneapolis police officer a few days ago. Really, while the protests are for a righteous cause, no doubt, we need to re-wheel and deepen them to square up to our own fundamental imbalances.

The US is a society that is attuned to its frailties and rises to the occasion when need be to confront them. While there are laws to address issues of racism in America like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there are no laws assiduously tackling tribalism in Nigeria. In fact, the laws we have in Nigeria are designed to accent tribalism and nepotism; for example, the Quota System, ‘’Federal Character Principle’’ and ‘’catchment area’’ policy.

I must say, while the Quota System and the Federal Character Principle were ideated to rugby-tackle concerns of ethnic representation in the public sector, they have over the years become the fulcrums on which tribalism, nepotism and ethnic dominance are scaffolded. These policies have also enthroned incompetence, discrimination, lack of healthy competition, indolence and indiscipline in the national life while supplanting meritocracy and competence.

I scored 284 in JAMB – high above the cut-off mark of the course I applied to study at university. But I could not secure admission at the university I wanted which was in another part of the country where I am supposedly not a native. I was robbed of choice because of the ‘’catchment area’’ policy. This was many years ago, but the academic apartheid still persists in Nigeria today. There is no change even in 2020!

Now, I have an eight-year-old son, and if I elect that he studies in Nigeria, that will be putting him through the same mill of discrimination and institutional apartheid that I faced. I think, this is the worst kind of ‘’native racism’’. We really have got to make Nigeria work for all Nigerians.

We live in country where to transact any official matter you have to declare your ‘’state of origin’’ and not your ‘’state of residence’’ – even when you have lived in a particular area in the country since your nativity.

I recall, in March, the Cross River state house of assembly rejected the appointment of Akon Ikpeme as substantive chief judge of the state — because she is from Akwa Ibom, even though she is married to a Cross Riverian.

In a voice vote at a plenary session, the assembly rejected Ikpeme’s appointment after receiving a report by the committee on judiciary. In the report, Godwin Akwaji, representing Obudu state constituency, and five others, recommended her rejection on the loony grounds that she is not a native of the state. Ikpeme hails from Akwa Ibom state, but she is married to an indigene of Cross River.

Is this not apartheid? We subsist on the worst kind of discrimination based on tribe and religion. And what is more tragic is that these prejudices are institutionalised.

We cannot pontificate on racism in the US, when some Nigerians cannot buy land in certain parts of the country. We cannot sit in judgment on racism in the US, when some Nigerians kill other citizens in the cognomen of ethnicity and religion. We cannot be indignant with racism in America when some Nigerians cast ethnic slurs like — Inyamiri, Ofe nmanu, Aboki – on their fellow countrymen. We cannot be more outraged by a foreign blight than by the sickening plight of our own people and the system. That is classical hypocrisy.

We must begin to erode ‘’tribal identities’’ and revive the ‘’Nigerian identity’’ to make progress as one country. I am Nigerian. That is my tribal identity.


Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

Twitter: @FredrickNwabufo

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Girl Child In Nigeria: When Will The Agony End?



By Alex Enemanna

Our dear country is increasingly becoming a toxic habitation for the vulnerable, particularly women and children to live in, thrive, explore and exercise fundamental rights unhindered. It is a sad reminder to the cruelty and unkindness with which human mind is desperately coated.

Tina Ezekwe, 16-year-old student recently felled by a trigger-happy cop’s bullet in Lagos, Vera Uwaila Omozuwa a 22-year-old microbiology undergraduate of UNIBEN, who was not long ago raped, dehumanised and eventually killed in Benin, Edo state, Barakat Bello, 19-year-old student of Institute of Agriculture, Research and Training who was also raped and killed in Ibadan on Monday, June 1 as well as Jennifer, 18-year-old lady raped in Kaduna on April 27 this year are just four of the legion of freshly baked bestialities from the evil temple that have today attracted unabashed condemnation. These patriots were murdered in cold blood under very painful circumstances.

While the careless death of any Nigerian is inexcusable under any circumstance, the female gender appears to have fatally been at the receiving end of bountiful harvest of sexually related crimes going on in our academic institutions, corporate offices, religious houses and indeed our homes on daily basis. Again, Tina’s death speaks to the enormous job the police authorities must urgently carry out on their officers and men.

The Medieval, anachronistic and infectious unprofessional conduct of some officials has continually robbed off on the collective entity of police force. State agents that ordinarily ought to be drivers of security of our people’s lives and property, including that of Tina, a teenager ended up as the nightmare that brought to abrupt end her stay on earth in a horrific manner. The decision by the indicted police officers, Theophilus Otobo and Oguntoba Olamigoke to on Tuesday May 26, 2020 open fire on a crowd around the Iyana-Oworo area of Lagos in the name of enforcement of COVID-19 curfew is to say the least in a bad fate and negates both common sense and most archaic policing ethics. Sadly, the unprovoked release of life bullet on citizens has become a big festival in our country’s security and defence sector. The trend has continued to thrive on the account that adequate deterrence mechanisms are not meted to offenders.

While conversation towards enthroning a more rewarding policing system continues, it is instructive to state that the degradation and dehumanisation of these sisters of ours is an eloquent testimony that we have as a society succeeded in raising a vicious and monstrous army of demons who do not deserve to co-habit with those of us with a sense of decency. They see womanhood as a crime. They feast on their agonies and drink the tears of their sorrow. Their insatiable sadism preys on the misery and despair of their victims. They wear human flesh, yet heart of a beast. Their facial outlook appears human but behind it is a thirsty vampire.

There is no limit to which we must condemn in strong terms any act of gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and harassment of our women and children. It is callous and Luciferic. It is heartless, wicked and unjustifiable. These young ones were green with visions and aspirations. They paid the supreme price chasing their dreams at various levels of learning. Like a candle in the wind, these visions have been permanently cut short never to see the ray of light again.

Poignantly, none of the most recent cases in the public domain leaves a trace of non-vigilance on the side of the victims. They were not at the wrong place at the wrong time, nor were they in confrontation for supremacy with their tormentors. While Vera Uwaila Omozuwa was killed in a church environment where she had gone to study, Barakat Bello was killed in her home after a routine sexual violation. It is reprehensible to adduce any escape route for rapists. More insensitively unguarded is the satanic excuse that mode of dressing could make a lady susceptible to rape. Making such comment is akin to advertising one as a serial or potential recruit to rape confraternity.

At the risk of sounding pessimistic, this cycle of violence may tarry with us for a long time to come law. This is not unconnected with our legal system that makes it difficult for victims to get justice. There is no time frame for the completion of rape-related cases just like the election petitions in Nigeria. It lingers for God-knows-how-long and when justice finally comes, it comes like a slap on the risk. It does not command the needed fear in the mind of a would-be sexual violator. How many were able to remember the case of Ese Oruru, the Bayelsa teenage girl who was abducted from her home to Kano, raped and later converted to Islam in 2016? It is heart-warming to note that she got justice when the perpetrator, Yunusa was recently handed 14 years imprisonment. Added to this is also the usual template of silence that accompanies each sexual crime. The fear of being blamed and discriminated by a people that ordinarily should he sympathetic to her will have the traumatized victim permanently seal her lips and live with a bruised conscience in lifetime.

Again, high profile cases of sexual violence always fizzle away into the thin air on the weighty influence of the perverse perpetrators. The law is usually at the mercy of a top ranking government appointee or head of agency who uses his position to coerce and obtain sexual gratification from subordinates. He can bribe his way through and come out whiter than snow. Lecturers who engage in orgy of sexual crimes against their female students gloat over it, yet only a negligible percentage eventually appear in court to account for their nefarious deeds.

Cheeringly, if the Sexual Offenders Register launched in 2019 by the federal government is really what we were told, it will document identified predators and put their names in the dark side of history for a long time to come. Their children’s children will read how their grandfathers went about dispensing anguish and torment with his manhood.

Parents must be watchful of characters they are releasing to the corporate world. Fractured upbringing cannot be totally extricated from the skyrocketing rate of rape everywhere across the country. It takes a man of extremely low moral to contemplate, execute rape and murder. Religious and traditional institutions also have their jobs cut out for them in teaching and admonishing their subjects and members. The Child Rights Act, Violence Against Persons Act and other numerous legal frameworks should be domesticated across the state to provide succour to victims. No thanks to the complacency of security agencies in these entire contraptions. The investigation of sexual exploitation cases are treated with levity.

We cannot continue to fold our arms and watch our daughters, sisters, aunts and friends being vociferously defiled with impunity in a country they call theirs. It is time to activate the full weight of the law against any sexual rascality and untamed libido.

Enemanna is an Abuja-based journalist.

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By Odunayo Oluwatimilehin

“It’s not consent if you make me afraid to say no” — Anonymous

RAPE is a condemnable, despicable and unjustifiable act; No justification at all for rape, it is a sheer act of wickedness!

We Say No To:

R – Repression
A – Against
P – Poor girls by
E – Eccentrics

The harrowing experience of sexual assault and rape is not peculiar to the female sex, it can indeed be unleashed on any member of society; male or female, boy or girl. However, for the purpose of this write up, my main focus is on sexual violence and rape against women and young girls.

Sexual violence is defined as “any sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or act to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victims, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work”.

Rape is a form of sexual violence; it is defined as “physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration – no matter how slight – of the vulva or anus, using a penis, other body parts or an object”, (World Report on Violence and Health).

Under the Criminal Code of Nigeria, “Rape is defined, as having unlawful and carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, if the consent is obtained by force or means of threats or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or by means of false act, or, in case of a married woman, be personating her husband”.

Harassment of girls by the opposite sex is in all likelihood a global problem. According to data from Justice Systems and Rape Crisis Centre’s in Chile, Malaysia, Papua, New Guinea, Peru, and the United States, about one-third and two-thirds of all victims of sexual assaults are aged 15 years or less.

The Nigerian social media has been flooded with fierce calls for justice, from different corners of the country, following the news of a 22 years old 100 level Microbiology student, of the University of Benin, Vera Uwaila Omozuwa who was raped and gruesomely murdered after the dastardly act inside a church in Benin, Edo State.

Quite a handful of reactions has trailed this sad incident; nevertheless, we shall continue to mount pressure on the appropriate quarters until the culprit is brought to book. We just cannot take it any longer. We are really sick and tired of watching abnormalities become the order of the day in our society. How long shall we fold our hands and watch injustice triumph over our helpless girl-child?

A random case of Vera Uwaila Omozuwa which attracted the attention of the world might have been numbered among the countless unheard and wounded cases if not for her gruesome murder. Cases of rape that are reported cannot be compared to magnitude of such that had been swept under the carpet or allowed to die a natural death in different parts of the world. This few reported cases may be viewed as an iceberg floating in water.

Sexual violation is the greatest injustice anyone could experience, especially in a country whose law on such violations seems to be partially blind to the ills being done to her citizens. Not dishing out deserving punishment to rape culprits will be tantamount to denial of the inalienable rights of the victims.

Spaking of what could be the trigger for such evil acts from the male folks, some have attributed it to indecent and provocative dressing by the females folk which the male counterpart often misconstrue as a subtle and irresistible cue. Other noted triggers according to the male folks are; peer pressure, societal failure, drug abuse, early exposure to X rated movies such as pornography and social media promotion of nudity, as well as joblessness, amongst others.

While responding to Vera Uwaila’s rape case, a Facebook user commented that, ‘Eighty per cent of guys today are rapists; they might not be the serial rapist on the street, but most guys raped their partners on the first date.’ (Emphasis mine)

For those who claimed that indecent and provocative dressing by the female folks is their turn on, please I have some questions for you;

  • How about the innocent girl-child you defiled? Was she seductively dressed?
  • How about the voiceless baby in nappy? Did she arouse the rape demon in you with her innocent nappy?
  • How about the lady in flowing gown you violently raped? Was it her long dress that turned you on?
  • How about fathers who sexually abuse and rape their girl-child with impunity? What is the moral justification for this?
  • How about the married woman whose husband violates her body against her wish? Oh yes! Don’t be surprised, rape happens even in marriage.

For crying out loud, Vera was raped and killed while studying inside the church, what justification has the rapist and murderer?

Let us face the fact head on; most times when a girl/lady/woman is raped, it has nothing to do with her dressing. Rape does not just happen; it takes a state of the mind. A rapist rapes because he has no self-control. So stop selling me the provocative/seductive dressing bullshits!

Listen up, all the above-listed supposed triggers do not provide a substantial justification for rape. If only the culprits were aware of the overwhelming damages and horrific life-long mental torture their victims would have to grapple with, I am persuaded they would have a re-think.

Sexual violence has a profound impact on physical and mental health of the victims. Rape victims are made to suffer immeasurable anguish, some become diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociation from reality, depersonalization. They also sometimes get infected with sexually transmitted infections, have unwanted pregnancies, and it ultimately leads to untimely death.

Studies have consistently proved that gynecological complications are related to ‘forced sex’. These complications includes: vaginal bleeding, fibroids, decreased sexual desire, genital irritation, chronic pelvic pain, and urinary tract infections.

The social approbrium that is attached to rape victims has promoted to a large scale the ‘Silence Culture’, among the victims who are often helpless. It is high time we freed rape victims of rape from our critical hooks; stop the blame game, and encourage them to speak up.

Many victims of rape and sexual assaults do not report these violations to their families or the police because they are ashamed or fear being blamed, not believed, or otherwise disparaged.

Societal reaction that blame rape victims and exonerate the culprits will always create a thriving environment for rapist to walk away with impunity; this ought not to be so.

“We need to listen to survivors when they gather the unspeakable amount of courage it takes to speak up and say “me too”. We need to fight for the people who can’t fight for themselves. Something has to be done to make a change”. – Molly Given.

Charity they say begins at home; the onus is on parents to teach their boy- child to always relate with the female gender with respect and self-control; it should be instilled in them that the fact that a girl/lady/ women walks about naked is not a reason to harass, molest and abuse her.

On the flip-side, parents should teach their girl- child: dignity, self-respect, self-awareness, and decency in all areas, because freedom without caution is tantamount to suicide.

For both genders, the above-mentioned morals and values should be established early by parents for the sake of humanity.

It is high time we came together to fight this menace against our girls/ladies/women. No rapists should be allowed to walk freely in our society without facing the full wrath of the law; as this would curb the crime and signal a warning to intending rapists.


~ Odunayo Oluwatimilehin, OYEWOLE
A Post graduate Student, University of Ibadan. 

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