September 23, 2021

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It’s All About Election In Bayelsa, Flood Victims Can Go To Hell

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Unlike previous years when government at all levels, corporate bodies and individuals rolled out palliatives to provide succour for flood victims in Bayelsa State, the 2019 flood victims in the state have been abandoned to their own fate. Both the government and other relevant bodies are looking the other way while victims of the flood are gnashing their teeth. The state government particularly is currently engrossed in political activities in preparation for the November 16 governorship election in the state. As a result, the presence of the state government is not being felt by flood victims in any part of the state.
It is on record that many communities in different parts of the state have been submerged in the disastrous flood. Some of the worst hit communities include Agudama-Ekpetiama, Tombia-Ekpetiama, Agudama-Epie, Akemfa-Epie, Okutukutu-Epie, Etegwe, Azikoro town and others all in Yenagoa local government area. Others are: Amassoma town and many other communities in Southern Ijaw local government area. Also, some communities in Ogbia, Sagbama, Ekeremor and Kolokuma/Opokuma local government areas are seriously affected by the natural disaster.
Penultimate week, two persons drowned at the Akemfa-Epie axis of the Epie Creek in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital when a boat conveying five persons across the creek had a mishap. It took efforts of residents of the vicinity who volunteered as local divers to rescue three out of the five victims while the remaining two who were not lucky enough died.
Despite the alarm raised by sympathisers through the media to draw NEMA and state government’s attention to the incident, none showed up. The following morning, after the ugly incidence, it was relatives of the deceased with the help of individual volunteers that went to the scene of the accident to search for the remains of the victims. Neither the National or the State Emergency Management Agencies (NEMA) and (SEMA) had bothered to know how victims of the destructive flood were faring.
In a similar situation, another death resulting from the 2019 flood disaster occurred last week when a car driver, in an attempt to overtake another vehicle along the Oxbow Lake road, Swali, veered off the road and plunged into the nearby flood water. The driver of the said vehicle died because it took those who came for his rescue longer time to pull him out of his fastened seatbelt which stocked him to the already sunk car, while he drowned there. All efforts made by the rescuers to resuscitate the victim after he was eventually pulled out of the water did not yield positive result as he never responded. The body was, however, taken to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Yenagoa.
Meanwhile, some residents of Yenagoa have expressed mixed feelings as flood victims lament the negligence by the relevant authorities whose duties it is to provide palliatives to ameliorate the plight of the suffering flood victims many of whom do not have anywhere to lay their head at the moment. Some of the victims who found themselves in some of the government established Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) camps in the state have been abandoned. There are neither government presence nor relief for them.
In an interview with our correspondent in Yenagoa, a retired soldier and one of the 2019 flood victims , Mr. Nathaniel Egberi explained that Nigeria had an agreement with Cameroon to build a beef up dam in the northern regions, but the contract was not executed hence the incessant flooding of the Niger Delta and other parts of the country. According to Egberi, the federal government lacked the political will to address the flooding caused by opening up of dams in neighbouring countries yearly.
Emphasizing that in previous years, NEMA set up camps for internally displaced persons and sent relief to cushion the effects of the natural disaster on the people, Egberi lamented that nothing had been done this year.
Another victim of the flood and principal cultural officer with the ministry of culture and Ijaw National Affairs, Mr.Goodnews Wenibo stated that “it is better IDP camps were not set up because some relief materials(sic) are being diverted for selfish reasons and they are not getting to the victims.” Wenibo stressed that the negligence on the part of NEMA and other relevant authorities was a wake -up call for people living in flood prone areas to take responsibility and be proactive enough to ameliorate the impact on them in subsequent flooding. Attributing the effect of the flood on some places to indiscriminate dumping of refuse in drainages, he frowned on land developers who built houses on natural canals and the right of way to avoid free flow of water. Efforts to speak to officials of NEMA, SEMA and the state commissioner for environment all proved abortive as none picked their calls.

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