That the 2018 flood is inflicting pains and agony on citizens in different parts of the country is no longer news. Bayelsa, a riverine southern state of Nigeria is one of the worst hit states. Deaths have been recorded, farmlands have been submerged. Also, valuable properties worth millions of naira have been destroyed.
It is true also that many Bayelsans have been displayed from their comfort zones. They now live as refugees. Schools have been shut down. The furiously ravaging flood is responsible for these ordeals.
What is actually making the news now is about the philanthropic gesture of a man towards alleviating the excruciating suffering of his people as occasioned by the continuously rising flood. Mr. Keniebi Okoko, a Bayelsa state born business mogul is one man that utterly detests the suffering of his people while he comfortably lives in affluence.
It was based on this premise that the Obunagha community, Gbarain Clan in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa state came alive on Friday. The community town hall was filled to capacity with Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs ,at the instance of the Keniebi Okoko Movement. It is a movement spearheaded by the young businessman, to give hope to the down trodden in the society.
The sad countenance of the IDPs who were seated in the community hall suddenly changed for good when they saw the arrival of a lorry load of relief materials brought to them by their son. Their faces began to beam with smiles as they broke into jubilation, singing songs of appreciations to the Keniebi Okoko movement. In Izon dialect, the women in their large number, sang, "Keniebi has brought succour to us. What Shell, our host company, could not do for us, our son, Keniebi has done. We are grateful to God for his life". They danced, gyrating their butocks with visual bliss written on their faces.
Among the items donated were mattresses, pillows, bags of rice, cartons of indomie noodles, packets of detergents, toiletries, dettol, soaps and mosquito nets.
Presenting the items to the IDPs, through the clan's monarch, Mr. Keniebi Okoko averred that he was one man who did not derive pleasure in the suffering of others. He said as a servant of God, helping the downtrodden and trying within his capability to put smiles on the faces of the distressed were the things that thrilled him most. The Obunagha born business tycoon said he was moved with passion to come to the aid of his people who had been devastated by the natural disaster.
His words: "It is all for humanity. Sympathy. The Bible says, "love your neighbour as you love yourself". If I say I am a Christian, I should be able to help my people. I cannot see people and call them goats. God has blessed me and there are many less privileged persons in the village that are going through tremendous hardship because of the natural disaster. I think it's only proper that I do something".
Continuing, he said, "Bayelsa is termed the glory of all lands. You will understand scripturally that when there is glory, the devil will contend. Because of that, you will find out that for sometime now, Bayelsa has been having all kinds of natural disaster issues because the devil does not want us to progress. I am here as a true son of Gbarain, a bonafide son of Obunagha. This event is not to score cheap political point. We should not use the suffering of our people to try and win votes. It is absolutely wrong for us to do so. We must separate politics from help.
"God will punish me after blessing me the way he has done and l see my people being ravaged by flood and sit in my house in Port Harcourt or Lagos or Abuja and watch them suffer. That means I am a cursed child. I understand the pain you are going through. I understand what it takes to lose your hard earned properties and your source of livelihood. That is why I am here. I am here because I love the Ijaw nation, l love Bayelsa state, I love the Gbarain Kingdom and I love Obunagha community. The bible says you should bring up a child the way he should go and when he grows up he won't depart from it. I was raised properly by Prof. Kimse Okoko who has been an ardent fighter for the Ijaw nation and Obunagha community".
He promised to extend his hand of fellowship to other communities in Gbarain Kingdom and other flood affected parts of the state.
Okoko also used the occasion to commend the state governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson for developing the state especially through the on-going construction of the three senatorial roads.
The King of Gbarain Kingdom, HRM Funpere Akah while receiving the items, eulogized Okoko for the gesture and urged other well meaning Bayelsans to borrow a leaf from the Port Harcourt based businessman.
An opinion leader in Obunagha community, Chief Sylvanus Ombu said he was short of words to express his gratitude to Okoko for alleviating their plight. He lamented, however, that the community was yet to receive any help whatsoever from their oil and gas client, the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, since the beginning of the flood disaster. Also speaking, the women leader of Obunagha community, Mrs. Osobina Seiyefa described Okoko as God sent. In the same vein, a septuagenarian woman, Akpomie Tobopena could not hold back her tears of joy when she got the news that a son of the soil has come to their aid. The 70 year old who spoke in Izon language, said, "I am told that one of our son has brought foodstuff to us. God will bless him abundantly in all his endeavours".