Segun James and Hammed Shittu
It was a typical case of the powerful also cry as the nationwide flood has hit the homes of both the rich and the poor.
The flood has spread to the homes of political gladiators in Bayelsa State, including the homestead of President Goodluck Jonathan. His native community, Otuoke, just at the bank of the Kolo creek in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, was over the weekend, submerged by flood, following the ceaseless downpour in the last few days. Over 90 per cent of Bayelsa State has been submerged by flood.
All attempts to get to Otuoke proved abortive as the road from Agbura community near Yenagoa was taken over by the water. Those venturing to the community could only go by canoes which were on standby along the road to the community.
The heliport where President Jonathan’s helicopter usually lands in the outskirts of the Otuoke community has now been converted to a refugee camp, as the flood has sacked thousands of people from their homes.
Former governors of the state, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha’s country home at Amassoma and his residence at Yenagoa, the state capital have all been overtaken by the ravaging flood.
The Niger Delta University (NDU) also situated at Amassoma has also been swallowed by the flood.
Earlier last week, the country home of the present governor, Seriake Dickson, was submerged by flood as well.
Governor Dickson who spoke to the refugees at the sports complex yesterday said he had set up an emergency disaster committee to advise him on the situation.
He said that over three quarters of the people of the state were affected by the flood and that the normal expenditure of the state cannot cope with the magnitude of the situation.
Lamenting the disaster that the flood has wrought, Governor Seriake Dickson stated that six of the eight local government council areas in the state were under water, adding that the rest two, Nembe and Brass may be submerged soon.
He said that his country home in Toru Orua had been submerged also. “I couldn’t land in my own community when I went there.”
But the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) has set up three refugee camps in conjunction with the state government to house the over 10,000 internally displaced persons so far identified in Yenagoa.
The Samson Siasia Sports Complex, the Bishop Demieri Grammar School (BDGS) and the Igbogene Heliport have been converted to refugee camps.
The NEMA zonal coordinator, South/South, Emenike Umesi said that three large tents capable of holding 200 families each would be erected at the Sports Complex while 24 small tents were being erected at the heliport.
THISDAY gathered that the two communities are under heavy flooding each year, hence the decision of the state government to relocate the state airport from the area to another location.
But fearing the effect of the nationwide flooding, Civil Society Organisations have warned of imminent food shortage throughout the country following the flooding of many communities in over 21 states in Nigeria.
One of the Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Global Initiative for Peace, Love and Care (GIPLC) has warned that Nigerians could suffer severely if positive and urgent steps were not taken to address the situation.
The National Coordinator of the organisation, Malam Nuhu Fulani-Kwajafa in Abuja at the weekend during a sensitisation rally observed that the affected communities were commercial farming takes place.
Kwajafa said they were embarking on a coordinated effort to secure money and other relief materials from voluntary donors to assist the affected communities.
The coordinator, also emphasised the need for urgent steps to be taken by government at all levels to ensure that the victims were rehabilitated and alternative farmlands provided for them to resume farming.
And in what seems like a response, Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adeshina at the weekend said that, federal government would partner with the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines for the introduction of rice that can do well under flooded conditions.
Adeshina disclosed this in Ilorin, Kwara state capital over the weekend after a visit to the state governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed.
The minister who was in the state to inspect flood-ravaged farm lands in Edu and Patigi local government councils of the state, said the federal government would also distribute high yielding maize seedling that can mature in 60 days, free of charge to farmers.
According to him, “these efforts are part of federal government’s effort in ensuring that the floods, across the country which ravaged farm lands, does not lead to food scarcity in the country”.
He said that, he was in Kwara state to express the sympathy of the federal government to the people of flooded areas and the state government.
The minister, who attributed the floods to climate change in the world, said the federal government, apart from provision of high yielding and flood resistant seedlings, has mobilised other measures to deal with the situation.
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