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Wednesday, 26 September 2012 00:00
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Flood disaster: Senate asks Jonathan to forward Supplementary Budget

David MarkThe Senate yesterday resolved to ask President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately forward a supplementary budget to address the impact of flood ravaging various States of the country.

It also urged the Executive to come up with a national operating standard to address the issue in future.

The decision followed a motion on the Menace of Flood in Nigeria sponsored by Senator Danladi Sankara (Jigawa, PDP) and 27 other Senators.

While moving the motion, Sankara noted that flood has ravaged many States especially those along the River Niger, River Benue, the Cross River, the Gongola River, the Iyere River and their tributaries.

He also noted that a lot of people have lost their lives from mid-July to date due to the heavy downpour, while property worth billions of Naira were washed away by the flood.

In his remark, the President of the Senate, David Mark said: "NEMA is an agency that, in natural emergency situation like the one we find ourselves, will just be a coordinating agency.

" All hands must be on deck in this particular situation. Unfortunately, because somebody said that NEMA gave warning, well if NEMA gave warning and it is the first line of reaction and response, the warning is not just enough. They should also be able to respond if they know well ahead.

"So, if they were aware of the magnitude and they didn’t do anything but just stop at warning people, then they failed completely. But I don’t think they were aware of the magnitude. They certainly could not have anticipated this level of damage.

"We don’t have a standard operating procedure in this country and again the rehearsal that they were going to do sometimes in Port Harcourt that became a disaster is just a typical example of how unprepared we are. What has happened now shows our level of unpreparedness for any natural disaster.

"All agencies, all hands must be called. As at today they have not called the military, they have not called the Ministry of Health. Telling the Minister to move to Kogi doesn’t solve this problem because the Minister has no solution. He is just going to be an observer there like any other person.

"By now there should have been a major operational centre where all the agencies involved are represented and they are reporting on daily basis as to how they are solving the problem. I am not sure anybody is operating from anywhere now.

"NEMA off course has to send blankets and food and rice that in itself is not a bad thing, but that is not where their job stops in a serious situation like this. I think we need to get our acts together and begin to anticipate some of these disasters and prepare and practice and rehearse for it.”

Other Senators who contributed to the motion also urged the agencies to be alive to their responsibilities while the Federal Government should be more proactive in future occurrences.

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