Nigeria’s main opposition presidential contender on Wednesday called on the government to immediately set up a flood disaster fund similar to one created to fight the coronavirus pandemic, to help victims hit by the worst floods in a decade.
The government has blamed the floods on heavy rain and water release from a dam in neighbouring Cameroon.
More than 600 people have been killed, around 1.4 million displaced and 570 000 hectares of farmland damaged or destroyed.
Atiku Abubakar said after a trip to oil-producing Bayelsa state, one of the worst hit, that the floods were a reminder of the impact of climate change and urged the government to immediately launch a Flood Disaster Relief Fund.
“It is a national emergency relief fund, similar in scope to what was initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Abubakar said, referring to a $1.4 billion fund that the government launched in 2020 at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nigeria’s flooding spreads to Delta, upending lives and livelihoods: Sulaiman Arigbabu
Critics have accused the federal government of being slow to help flood victims. President Muhammadu Buhari has given his cabinet 90 days to develop a plan to prevent flooding in future.
Floods are common in Nigeria, but authorities say they are the worst since 2012.
Experts say climate change is a factor, while defective infrastructure and poor planning, including a failure by Nigeria to complete a dam of its own that was supposed to backstop the Cameroonian one, had worsened the disaster.