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Flood: 3 dead, residents displaced as Bayelsa community is submerged

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By AKOR SYLVESTER-,Abuja

The Ayakoro settlement in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa has been submerged by flood, leaving no fewer than three people dead.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the death toll from the flood disaster was confirmed by Bayelsa government on Wednesday.

Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Strategy, Mr Ayibaina Duba, confirmed the incident while commiserating with the families of the victims.

Meanwhile, the paramount ruler of the community, Mr. Righteous Inegbagha, has called on the federal and state governments to take urgent steps to mitigate the impacts of the flood on the people.

He said that the flood disaster had not only rendered thousands of his subjects homeless, but had also affected their sources of livelihood, with other economic activities also paralysed.

“Our people cannot visit their farms due to the ravaging effects of the disaster,” he said.

Inegbagha expressed the regret that for about a week now, people of the community had been residing in their water-lodged houses.

He emphasised the need for government to provide relief materials, such as food, clothes and drugs for the affected people, adding that they should be evacuated to temporary camps to save them and their property.

The traditional ruler said that his palace, which used to play host to some of the victims, had now been made inhabitable due to over-crowding and lack of enough space.

Meanwhile,The National Administrative Council of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, ,(TUC)  is shaken by the devastating floods that have once again claimed hundreds of lives, farms and roads and destroyed properties worth billions of naira without a commensurate national mobilization.
The Congress wishes to commiserate with the working people and their families over these losses caused by the floods which have swept through 33 of the 36 states of the country and have also left schools, hospitals, police stations, offices and infrastructure submerged.
The president of TUC, Festus Osifo in a statement he signed said over 40,000 homes have been destroyed and the nation’s food security threatened.
The TUC president insists that such a growing level of devastation ought to have elicited emergency responses in the entire country, which would have saved its citizens the pains, anguish and embarrassment they are currently subjected to.
According to him, the poor, working people and their families are always vulnerable to the inactions of the government.
He said “It is true that the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NIMET and Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency had warned against high amount of rainfall in September, 2022 which may trigger floods in some states. It is also a fact that the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA gave similar warnings, but governments at all levels did not put preventive or at best control measures in place but rather devoted all energies to political activities at the expense of governance.
The TUC boss said Federal Government blaming state governments for allegedly ignoring the letters of the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu informing them of the impending floods, is at this time unhelpful.
He maintained that what the country needs is a synergy by the three tiers of government to quickly come to the rescue of the displaced by immediately providing temporary shelter, warm clothing, food and medical supplies not just for the immediate, but also to combat the post-flood water borne diseases that have become inescapable.
He said “a country suffers in many ways than one, when it refuses to elect serious leaders driven by development, we must dredge the river Niger to its full depth potential, so as to form a deep basin to warehouse water bodies coming from Cameroon and Niger Republic.
“Dredging gives you so much tonnage of white sharp sand for construction and export, if that is done it means we won’t stupidly, insipidly and haplessly be begging our poor neighbours not to release their dams.When you dredge, there will automatically be a reasonable depth for River transportation and multiple wharfs in Lokoja, Onitsha.
The Congress appealed to corporate Nigeria to roll out flood funds of solidarity to assist the victims, while individuals can also take initiatives to come to the aid of those rendered homeless and helpless by the floods.
He urged the federal government to take steps to ensure that the release of water from the Kiri, Kainji, Jebba, and Shiroro dams does not worsen the flood situation.
Apart from taking climate change seriously and working on meeting minimum international requirements to tackle it, the TUC president said the government also needs to engage the neighbors on how flooding can be controlled. For instance, the media reports that the September 13, 2022 release of excess water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon was partly responsible for the serious level of flooding the country is experiencing.
While taking these necessary measures, the TUC appealed for a systematic flood prevention and control system so that such flooding tragedy does not become a seasonal re-occurring feature.
“We stand with the working people and indeed the entire Nigerians during this trying times.
“This is the time to truly show that an injury to one is an injury to all”,he said.

However, The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Thursday in Abuja challenged all tiers of government to take collective responsibility and invest in early warning systems to reduce risks of disasters.

Mr. Mustapha Ahmed, Director-General, NEMA, threw the challenge at an event organised to mark the 2023 International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.

He said the large scale of flood disaster in the country in 2022, had killed more than 500 persons, destroyed properties and displaced a large number of persons.

The director-general said that it was necessary for all Nigerians to also undertake necessary actions and adhere to early warnings to minimise impact and reduce risks of disasters.

“This is the time we must take collective responsibility to invest in early warning systems, early actions and preparedness that are people-centered; community oriented and popularity-driven.

“This is to create access and make early warnings available at national and sub-national levels with a view to enhancing the resilience of our communities,’’ he said.

According to him, the Federal government had already approved the distribution of grains and relief items to persons affected by the 2022 floods.

“The president has graciously approved 12,000 tonnes of grains, which is equivalent of 400 trailer loads, which has been distributed across the country.

“We are still working on providing relief materials, food items and non-food items to each state of the federation.

“NEMA encountered some hiccups along the Lokoja Highway, but it has alerted security agencies to help in clearing the way so that relief items can continue to get to all relevant states,’’ he stressed.

In her remarks, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, called on all communities to take necessary actions to mitigate the impact of flood.

Farouq, who was represented by Alhaji Ali Grema, Director, Humanitarian Department in the ministry, said 27 states had so far been affected by the 2022 floods.

More than 500 lives have been lost, more that 1.4 million persons have been affected, and about 90,000 homes are either partially or completely destroyed.

“Also destroyed are thousands of hectares of farmland thus worsening fears of a disruption of food supply in Africa’s most populous country.

“These widespread cases are in 27 states out of the 36 States of the federation and the FCT.

“Communities must recognise that all disasters are local and they must take climate predictions and flood outlooks warnings seriously.

“We can’t out rightly eliminate flood, but we can keep people safe. That responsibility is collectively ours,’’ she stressed.

Oct. 13 is celebrated annually as the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The theme for this year is: “Early warning and early action for all.’’ (NAN)

 

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