“Show more seriousness in tackling flood problems”: Archbishop to Government in Nigeria

Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji of Nigeria's Owerri Archdiocese. Credit: Owerri Archdiocese

The Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Archdiocese in Nigeria has called upon the Nigerian government at State and Federal levels to exercise “more seriousness and commitment” in addressing the challenge of floods in the West African country. 

Floods in Nigeria have negatively impacted 27 of the country’s 36 States since September this year, according to various media reports

Some of the recent reports have cited official sources saying that over 600 people have lost their lives and more than 1.3 million have been displaced in the Nigeria’s worst floods in over a decade.

In his statement issued Tuesday, November 1, Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji urges “relevant authorities and agencies, state and federal” to take action to prevent the devastating effects of floods in Africa’s most populous nation.

“This year's extensive flood has been blamed on the release of excess water from Cameroun's Lagdo Dam in the middle of September this year. The Dasin Hausa Dam in Adamawa State, which was supposed to be a buffer dam to contain excess overflow of water, has remained uncompleted forty years since it was started in 1982,” Archbishop Ugorji says.


The Nigerian Archbishop adds, “There has been huge destruction of infrastructures, farmlands and businesses as well as forced dislocation of peoples, with the attendant emotional and psychological stress and trauma. In addition, many have lost their lives.”

“We, therefore, call on the relevant authorities and agencies, state and federal, to show more seriousness and commitment in tackling flood problems in Nigeria to save our people from more misery and sudden death,” Archbishop Ugorji says in his November 1 message.

He adds in his two-page statement, “Government at all levels has to invest in flood control and prevention infrastructures.”

“Agencies like the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency are very important institutions for flood disaster management and control,” the Nigerian Archbishop says. 

Referencing the highlighted agencies, Archbishop Ugorji underscores “the need to improve on their institutional capacity to do their work in areas such as early flood warnings and prediction, quick emergency response to floods and enforcement of environmental laws.”

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To be able to carry out these important functions, he says, “These agencies require adequate funding, which should be released in time to enable them to put necessary measures in place, procure appropriate equipment, engage in skills and manpower training and other operational requirements ahead of any disaster.”

The Local Ordinary of Owerri Archdiocese who doubles as the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) further says that Nigeria needs “policies and actions that will stop the allocation of lands and construction of projects and building on natural floodplains or storm water paths.”

“This also implies that the citizens must be discouraged from living in serious flood prone areas,” the Nigerian Catholic Archbishop cautions. 

He continues, “There is no doubt that many citizens contribute in exacerbating flood problems by their undisciplined attitude to waste management such as using the drainage system as dumpsites and consequently blocking the flow of water.”

These attitudes, he says, “are condemnable and should stop.”


“Citizens themselves have their role to play with regard to flood prevention and rescue matters. All hands must be on deck for the control, prevention and mitigation of floods in the country,” the 70-year-old Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in July 1990 as Bishop of Nigeria’s Umuahia Diocese says.

In his seven-point message, Archbishop Ugorji continues, “Flood disasters should awaken our consciousness to the challenges of global warming and climate change, partially caused by our human actions, namely by man's violent and callous misuse of nature.”

“There is need for ecological conversion and proper ecological education among our people in order to control future natural disasters,” he further says, and adds, “Let us contribute in the protection and preservation of the earth which is our common home.”

On October 11, Christian leaders in Nigeria called on the Federal government to create a “Presidential Flood Relief Committee” towards the support of victims of destructive floods in various States of the West Africa nation.

Pope Francis has also expressed his thoughtfulness about the ongoing “violent rains” in Nigeria and said he is in solidarity with those affected by the ensuing floods. 

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Speaking during his October 19 general audience in Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father said, “I think of the violent rains that have fallen on their country in these days, causing flooding, numerous deaths and tremendous damage.”

“Let us pray for all who have lost their lives and for everyone affected by this devastating natural disaster,” Pope Francis said October 19.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.