Chairman of the Odioama Council of Chiefs, Chief Marlin Omiemunafa, has raised the alarm over persistent existential threat to the community by an ocean surge that has already wiped off about 250 homes.
Odioma, a community in the Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State where Chief Timipre Sylva comes from, now sits on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Already, the ocean surge is said to have encroached into the community, eating up about 200 metres of the community’s land so far.
TNN observed that hundreds of community dwellers have already been displaced as their homes have been washed away by the frightening ocean surge. The community has been under threat by the erosion for a long time now.
While receiving the state governor, Senator Douye Diri who visited the community, to assess the extent of the havoc, Omiemunafa said the people were facing an existential threat and urged the government to intervene urgently.
A visibly worried Diri, in response, told the community that Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, said his government will begin immediate remedial work, while waiting for the federal government to intervene for a permanent solution.
Diri, who was accompanied on the visit by Speaker of the House of Assembly, Abraham Ingobere, Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange, commissioners and other government officials, assured that the state government will embark on a 1.5km shore protection.
He said the government would commence the shoreline project while awaiting federal government’s collaboration, noting however that it was beyond its scope to address such challenges in Odioama, Koluama, Sangana, Agge and other communities facing similar threats.
According to him, engineers in the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure will on Wednesday brief the state executive council on the cost of the project.
He called for the intervention and support of the federal government on the shore protection project, stating that the federal government needed to reciprocate Bayelsa State’s immense contribution to the economic wellbeing of the country.
He said: “l did not come here for political campaign but rather to see the plight of the Odioama people and have first hand knowledge of what is happening to the community.
“I cannot sit in my office to hear that houses are giving way. I have been taken round and seen houses that are giving way to the ocean surge. The community’s cemetery has been threatened.
“By tomorrow (Wednesday), l will see what the engineers in the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure will bring to the state executive council meeting. We know that the cost will be prohibitive and beyond the state government.
“We call on the federal government that while we use our meagre resources to start something, we want them to also collaborate with us in stopping the sea encroachment in Odioama and other communities. Bayelsa State has given so much to Nigeria and so, let the federal government also reciprocate.
“While we use our meagre resources to construct shoreline protection, I like to call on the federal government to be part of the story in checking the perennial environmental problems of erosion and flooding ravaging our communities.
“Whatever we are doing here will be like a drop in the ocean. But together with the federal government, there is so much we can achieve.”
Responding to the community’s requests, Diri directed the Commissioner for Water Resources to undertake water project in the community as well as directing his Lands and Housing counterpart to take over the building of a pavilion.