When the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo described the flood incident in Bayelsa State as a monumental disaster, many accepted the verdict without complaint. Osa Okhomina brings reports of the flood aftermath.
The waters raged literally inundating houses. Some residents wadded through the waters that could still be managed, looking horrified at the disaster that has left them homeless and seeking assistance from government, Non Governmental Organisations and generous individuals.
The Flood incident has virtually crippled business activities, farming and other means of livelihood in most neighbourhood and communities of the Eight Local Government Areas of the State.
Barely six years after the 2012 flood ravaged 95 percent of the state and left terrible memories in the heart of residents, the current impact of the 2018 has affected and displaced more humans, farm lands, homes, schools and churches.
The current pattern, which experts predicted earlier in the beginning of the year has shown indices of a similar natural disaster of 2012 in many parts of the state.
The impacts have also left hundreds of victims with tales of woes, while many others live in fear.
Vice President Yemi Osibanjo after taking a tour of farmlands, houses and communities in Bayelsa State destroyed by the ravaging flood, described it as a monumental disaster.
The Vice President who took a tour of the portion of Yenagoa Local Government area where houses, schools, farms and churches have been submerged and abandoned with a Nigerian Air Force Helicopter in company of the State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson and others, said the Nigerian government will prepare a plan to assuage the effect of the disaster.
During a brief tour of Internally Displaced Persons Camp at Igbogene Area of the Bayelsa State capital, Osibanjo disclosed that the Federal Government will work with the relevant agencies, including the Ministry of Enviroment and the National Emergency Monitoring Agency(NEMA) to embark on the building of drainage, canals and other infrastructure to soften the effect of the flood.
Also speaking, the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, commended the Vice President and his team for taking an overhead tour of the flood impacted areas of the state capital to see the extent of destruction.
Gov. Dickson said though the extent of destruction seen by the Vice President was one out of the Eight local government councils impacted by the flood,” the state ratings for the flood was released by the Federal Government and Bayelsa was omitted, I was surprised. First, I blamed the depth of information. “
“Everytime, there is flood, let it be known that Bayelsa is the most affected. The entire state is under sea level due to its topography. There was flood in 2012 and today, you have seen another one. You have not gone to Ekeremor, Southern Ijaw, Kolokuma/Opokuma and Nembe. We are dealing with the flood disaster that is of monumental proportion,” he lamented.
Earlier in his speech, the State Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral John Jonah pointed out that despite the speedy response of the State Government to the flood disaster, “the flood has sacked people from their homes and rendered farming useless, though this flood is not up to the one in 2012, the flood is monumental.
“We have established 13 Internally Displaced Persons Camps, some persons now live in canoes and platforms.”
Visit To IDP Camp
Our correspondent visited the Igbogene central camp, in Igbogene community, of Bayelsa State, where affected residents of the state capital were relocated to take refuge at the IDPs camp in the area.
Walking through the premises of the camp and seeing children huddled in a group of twenty due to overcrowding, was a disturbing sight and painful to watch.
The looks of the elderly tell tales of agony, their eye sockets are sunken, it could be compared to a metaphor describing lack, the simile of dejection and the apt representation of want.
According to findings, every day an average of 100 indigenes and non-indigene alike were relocated to the camp to seek refuge. A quick glance at the children sleeping on bare floors of the spacious but unkept rooms immediately elicited pity.
Mrs. Marie Agile, who is 60 years old with five children and from Ekeremor main town, Ekeremor Local Government area, with five children said, “We have been displaced by the flood and the thoughts of all that we have lost has furthermore increased our sufferings. How do I cope with five children in this kind of condition and place.
“Even when we leave here the properties that is lost may never be regained again, this is almost noon and we haven’t had any food. The amount of mosquitoes here can send this children to hospital even when we have a medical team to administer drugs to them.”
For Mrs. Daniel Malaya and Mrs. Patience Chiboy, from Omoku LGA, both with three children and their husbands, had sent two children out of the camp because of the condition of the camp.
They said: “Life here is difficult. The food we are given here is not good. We are being fed twice a day, the food isn’t nourishing especially the soup.”
Madam, Esther Makenne, from Ayama Ogbia, who resides with four children in Yenagoa, confirmed that they are fed twice a day, but the issue of a comfortable place to stay is quite challenging.
When she spoke, her quavering voice and tearful eyes tells the story of her misery staying at the camp.
She said, “Our lunch is our breakfast, we don’t have mosquitoes nets, as you can see I am carrying my four years and sox month old baby who is looking sickly.”
According to Roseline Andrew, another Internally Displaced Person, for the past ten days in the camp, she has been sleeping with her seven children on the bare floors inspire of the cold weather at night.
“We know this is not our home and we don’t expect all the comfort, but we see different groups, government and other well meaning Bayelsans coming to donate food items and other relief materials, and we don’t get to use them,” she lamented, stating that they had money to feed but the challenge was where to sleep.
Private Donations Of Relief Materials
At the time of visit, a long convoy of trucks with other buses led by a team from the leader of the All Progressives Congress(APC), in the state, arrived the camp with food items and other relief materials. Hon. Ibarakumo Otobo, immediately led the team to the Management of the camp, explaining that he was sent from the leadership of the party in the state.
He said the gesture was a token to make life more meaningful for those affected by the flood residing in the camp, adding that the team was personally there to ensure the items donated get to the actual beneficiaries.
He also pointed out that the donations to the refugee camp has no political inclination or sentiment attached, adding that they are all Bayelsans so they must empathise with the people in times like this.
He equally disclosed that the flood has also taken over his Yenagoa home, hence the reason for his persistence that the items must get to those affected.
He also sent relief materials to other Yenagoa extended camps of Zarama, Biseni, Ikarama and other surrounding communities in the area.
Five IDPs Give Birth In Flooded Camp
No fewer than five Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs at the Igbogene camp in Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa State gave birth within the last four weeks since the ravaging flood rendered many homeless in the state.
The IDPs numbering over 2000 are currently taking refuge in Igbogene main camp, which has six camp extensions in the LGA and has remained a source of worry.
According to Mrs. Abbey Eloho, a Deltan, who resides in Yenagoa, and one of the mothers, said “I gave birth to a female child here in the camp on the 23rd of September, and life hasn’t been easy for us.
“We appreciate all those who have donated relief materials, monies and other items to us. You can’t get all the comfort when you are outside your home but we still need more.
“I thank God for the gift of life. My baby is healthy despite the environment. We also commend the message from the former Governor of the state, Chief Timipre Sylva, and the money.”
Mrs. Amaka James, a mother from Imo state, who gave birth just this Monday, complained about the poor condition of the camp and unavailability of food for the refugees, adding that as a breast feeding mother she hasn’t eaten up until noon as we speak.
She said, “Look at where we are sleeping, no mattresses and foam or even pillow to lay our heads. We see government, individuals and corporate organisations bring relief materials but we don’t get to eat or benefit from them,” she said.
Director of Information, Bayelsa State Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Aziowei Ayii, denied their claims, noting “When we share relief materials to them, they collect and hide them, and pretend that they never got anything.
“We are doing all to ensure every material received is shared among all the camps effectively. We have a profiling list of every material brought and the number of IDPs in the camp.
“They have coordinators who are in charge of the different groups. As you can see people bringing monies, I instruct that the monies are given to the nursing mothers directly in order to avoid controversies.
“The state government is doing so much to ensure that their stay here is safe. We have the medical team around who attends to them all. We also commend other donors for their support in coming to the aid of the flood victims,” he said.
Efforts Of SEMA
In his reaction, director for information, Bayelsa State Emergency Agency, Mr. Aziowei Ayii, commended the team for the show of love and assistance to the displaced persons in the camp, adding that all measures to ensure only the affected persons get the items is being implored and followed.
While taking the team round the camp, he explained that over a thousand displaced persons have been relocated since the beginning of the camping, adding that every process from donations, distribution, feeding and security is being documented to avoid discrepancies and controversies.
He also gave the records of pregnant women who gave birth at the camp, and said their children are in good conditions.
He noted that the medical teams are working round the clock to ensure the people get adequate health services, adding that all the items are kept in a safe place.
On the issue of uncomfortable sleeping places by some of the refugees, he said government has made enough provision for the persons but what they do is hide most of the things collected to get more.
“We are doing all to ensure every material received is shared among all the camps effectively. We have a profiling list of every material brought and the number of IDPs in the camp,” he noted.
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