Harvey Houston Flood

Taken together, there has, therefore, been a clarion call on mankind to shake off its lethargy and rise to the new existential threat by evolving more creative ways to heal and preserve the environment in a sustainable way. It is an advocacy some of us have been involved in our own modest way over the years.


From the apocalyptic Hurricane Harvey in Texas to the hellish wildfire in Los Angeles lately, these are surely agonising moments for the United States. In a rather dazingly rapid succession, the two natural disasters, the worst in half a century, have forced America’s second and fourth largest cities to their knees, exacting heavy human toll and incalculable material loss.

In Texas, apart from 47 deaths, material damage wrought by Hurricane Harvey is estimated at a whopping $150 billion. Relief workers have documented at least 36,000 rescue efforts since the first wave on August 25. More than one million people are displaced, with 200,000 homes wrecked on a path of destruction stretching almost 500 kilometres.

In scale, Hurricane Harvey obviously dwarfs the earlier Katrina (2006) and Sandy (2015).

Texas’ river of misery had barely receded when Los Angeles began to blaze in the wildfire reminiscent of the biblical prophecy of Armageddon. This was so much that the authorities had to issue an evacuation order to residents of no fewer than 500 homes, followed by a formal declaration of a state of emergency by the governor of California, Edmund Brown Jr.

As at yesterday, another Hurricane named Irma was fast approaching the U.S. shores, with residents of Florida bracing for another bout of nightmare.

It is a pity that, despite all the earth-shaking inventions and innovations, despite all the extensions of the frontiers of knowledge through human intelligence, the United States, like other nations of the world, remains vulnerable to the rampaging forces of nature.

While the spirit of shared humanity obliges the rest of the world to identify with the United States in this trying hour, we can only hope that these natural disasters will serve as a wake-up call on President Donald Trump on the grim reality of climate change. Ever so eccentric in thought and deeds, the American leader is one of a small tribe who still live in denial of the existence of climate change in what bears a faint resemblance to the natural atrophy evoked in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.

By an accident of history, little ones find themselves in a virgin island imagined by Golding. Unable to rise above their cognitive limitations and be united in the pursuit of things that bind them, the brats soon turn the paradisal bequest into a cauldron of horror and self-immolation. Charlatanism trumps reason. The pristine beach gets smeared by blood.

Of course, the raging inferno only adds to the global warming which has been responsible for the irreversible melting of the icebergs over the years, resulting in the rise in water levels. So, the volume of rainfall has risen globally. So have tsunamis and hurricanes.


But against the ruins of Texas and Los Angeles in the past few days, only Trump and other climate change deniers will perhaps still need rocket-scientists to help them connect the dots. While the Los Angeles fire, tagged “La Tuna”, probably erupted with a spark on the northern edge, powerful erratic winds resulting from a violated ecology helped fuel its spread across a breath-taking 2,023 hectares, with thick smoke billowing skyward, thereby poisoning the air around most parts of the city, as well as the suburbs.

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Of course, the raging inferno only adds to the global warming which has been responsible for the irreversible melting of the icebergs over the years, resulting in the rise in water levels. So, the volume of rainfall has risen globally. So have tsunamis and hurricanes. When it rains, existing waterways are increasingly unable to discharge into the rivers and the oceans as seamlessly as was the case decades ago.

Last month in Sierra Leone, flash floods similarly sacked several communities, resulting in at least 600 deaths, with many still missing. To say nothing of the massive destruction of property.

Back home, Benue river also overflowed last weekend, leading to many deaths, displacement of tens of thousands and the destruction of property worth hundreds of million of naira.

Sadly, whereas Nigeria was quick to rush materials and troops to Freetown to assist in the relief efforts, we are yet to see similar vigour and depth in the federal response to the Benue disaster in the past few days, with victims left to waddle in neck-deep flood and a vast number of houses immersed up to lintel level.

According to experts, the worst may not be over yet for Benue. If the neighbouring Cameroun, whose soccer World Cup dream was recently decimated by Super Eagles in a 4.0 massacre, decides to release water from the already overflowing Lagbo Dam, then more misery lays ahead for beleaguered Benue communities. You can never tell where national bitterness aroused by the humiliation suffered on the soccer pitch could lead in the times ahead.

Flooded Benue, in turn, raises the spectre of famine for the nation in the next harvest season. With farmlands now completely submerged, our “food basket” is in great danger indeed.

In case he stills harbours any doubt, we can only hope this ugly harvest of natural disasters in the U.S. lately will disabuse Trump’s mind on the harsh reality of climate change and nudge him to mend his ways.


In sub-Saharan Africa, worsening desertification is triggering the migration of pastoralists to seek greener pasture for their herds in a manner never seen in history. The result has been the rise of the buccaneering herder quick to pull the AK-47 trigger against the subsistent farmer unwilling to surrender his farmland to ravenous herds of cattle.

Taken together, there has, therefore, been a clarion call on mankind to shake off its lethargy and rise to the new existential threat by evolving more creative ways to heal and preserve the environment in a sustainable way. It is an advocacy some of us have been involved in our own modest way over the years. Being the centre of greatest industrial activities in the universe and ipso facto the “greatest polluter”, the U.S. has of course come under significant pressure to lead the crusade to preserve planet earth for the unborn generations.

But ever so quick to theorise without evidence or research, President Trump once described the climate change advocacy as a modern-day fraud. He tweeted: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

Since stepping into the White House in January, Trump has sought to reverse the gains recorded under previous administrations against climate change, even as he frenetically pursues policies to foreclose any fresh advance.

He began by appointing as new head of the US environment protection agency a co-denier, Scott Pruit, the former Oklahoma attorney general. Next, he axed the agency’s budget from $8.1 billion to $5.7 billion. Thereafter came an executive order freezing the effort of the Barack Obama administration to limit the highly polluting coal industry under the Clean Power Plan, leaving the old plants open.

Then came another executive order to expand offshore oil drilling and release formerly protected federal land to be explored for private interest. His predecessor, Obama, had tried to ban offshore drilling permanently, citing a 1953 law.

Perhaps the unkindest cut of all was an order disabling Obama’s policy protecting waterways and wetlands, which normally provide detention points for flood water in emergency situations.

In case he stills harbours any doubt, we can only hope this ugly harvest of natural disasters in the U.S. lately will disabuse Trump’s mind on the harsh reality of climate change and nudge him to mend his ways.

Malami and the Hierarchy of Hypocrisy

Nigeria is indeed in great danger if this is how best Malami thinks to interpret the law. A society is doomed if double standard is applied against two acts of perceived criminality.


The issue with Buhari’s anti-graft war is often said not to be the efficacy or otherwise of the tools to apprehend, but largely prosecutorial competence. By various acts of omission and commission, the prosecution is often unable to present a water-tight case to secure conviction.
The reason is not far-fetched: whereas brawn may serve you well to apprehend, you certainly need a lot of brain to forensically knock out a suspect in the court of law.

We may not have to look too far to see why the roof appears to be leaking pathetically on criminal justice administration in Nigeria today. With the recent juvenile verbiage by the Justice minister and attorney-general, Mallam Abubakar Malami, on the Arewa Youths who had taken the liberty to issue quit notice to Igbo in the North as though Nigeria were their father’s exclusive estate, we, at least, now know the quality of thinking behind policies and programmes in a ministry otherwise tasked with the critical responsibility of preserving law and order in the society.

The shame is not just the possibility of harbouring bias, but also not being intelligent enough to conceal it.

Asked why none of these misguided political delinquents (of course, his kinsmen) was arrested and arraigned in court, Malami simply narrowed it down to “security considerations”. In order words, the nation’s chief law officer believes that touching the Arewa Youths could either trigger an ethno-religious crisis or complicate the existing political tension in the land.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State had ordered their arrest by security agencies. That was never enforced.

Meanwhile, the same Malami mindful of “security considerations” vis-a-vis the Arewa Youths hardly thought twice before rushing to the court seeking a fresh order to commit the little neo-Biafran braggart to prison for breaching his bail terms. He does not appear to think or care about the ethnic sensibility of the South-East and possible security backlash in the event that Nnamdi Kanu is re-arrested.

Maybe because our fastidious legal czar assumes the guy and the mob behind him are nothing but kids of a lesser god.

Nigeria is indeed in great danger if this is how best Malami thinks to interpret the law. A society is doomed if double standard is applied against two acts of perceived criminality.

Louis Odion is a Fellow of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (FNGE).

Image credit: Daniel J. Martinez/US Air National Guard.