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Bayelsa Flood Deserves Global Attention, Says UN

Bayelsa Flood Deserves Global Attention, Says UN

…Ijaw youths fault Tinubu wife’s N50m donation

The United Nations on Saturday described the flood disaster in Bayelsa State as a crisis of major proportion deserving attention.

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria and Representative of the Secretary-General, Matthias Schmale, made this known when he led a delegation comprising officials of the global body, the World Health Organisation and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources on a courtesy visit to Governor Douye Diri at the Government House, Yenagoa.

Seven of the eight local government areas of the state have been affected by the flood that has forced many residents into IDP camps after hundreds of buildings and farmlands were submerged by flood.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, had come under fire when she exempted Bayelsa from the list of the 10 worst-hit states ravaged by flood.

The minister had hinged her conviction on several factors which she said included the number of displaced persons and deaths recorded per state, injuries, partially damaged or completely damaged houses as well as ravaged farmlands.

However, a statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, quoted Schmale as likening the Bayelsa situation to the Pakistani flood that attracted global attention. The UN coordinator, who had on Friday accompanied Diri on his tour to some flood-impacted communities in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, said his visit was a response to the letter from the governor and called for attention to address the devastating effect of flooding.

Schmale stressed that it was disheartening that lives, livelihoods and assets had been lost to the flood and called on the Federal Government and the international community to join hands to support what was left of the immediate response and recovery phases.

He said, “The first thing I will share publicly is that this is a crisis of major proportion. What I saw yesterday reminded me of the images I saw of Pakistan a few months ago and the world took note of that. A third of Pakistan, the size of the United Kingdom, was underwater. The images reminded me of that.

“We need to be very clear. This is a crisis of major proportion that deserves everyone’s attention. Secondly, my respect to you and your team and, of course, your deputy governor. I think it takes considerable commitment to now be in your third week of visiting flooded communities, which I have not seen anywhere else.

“What I saw yesterday was that you were not only providing material aid to communities but also moral support. I could see the way you and your team were received. There were signs and glimmers of hope around people’s faces and we should not underestimate that. Obviously, this is still the immediate response phase and outlined some of the immediate needs. I think the next would be recovery and we will think through with the United Nations team what we can do to advocate and mobilise resources for the recovery phase as people are able to get back to their normal lives.”

He further noted that the cause of the disaster was climate change and that it would be the responsibility of the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, to speak emphatically during this year’s Climate Conference in Egypt about the need to invest in mitigation and adaptation measures.

While commending the UN team for the visit, Diri maintained Bayelsa was the worst hit by the flood ravaging the country.

He said, “We wrote those letters not only to the United Nations but to several others, including our country’s President. But you are the first to respond to our call. We appreciate you as a state government, as a people and as the Ijaw ethnic nationality.

“We are not fighting the Federal Government. The Federal Government is our father and at a time that your son or daughter needs help, we expected that they would be there for us. It would have been okay for you to just fly into Yenagoa and hold this meeting and return but you decided to feel and see things for yourself. But for flight delays, you would have seen several more because we went to nine communities on Friday. From what you have said, it is very clear that you are satisfied with the fact that Bayelsa State is the most impacted state in this 2022 flooding in Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, the wife of the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, has made a donation of N50 million and relief materials to victims of flooding in Bayelsa State.

The three-term senator made the donation when she led a delegation of the APC women’s campaign team to the various camps of internally displaced persons in Yenagoa on Friday to commiserate with the victims.

The senator was accompanied by the wife of the party’s vice presidential candidate, Hajiya Nana Shettima; the wife of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Mrs Alanyingi Sylva; and the National Coordinator of the APC women’s campaign team, Dr Asabe Bashir. But the donation did not go down well with the Ijaw Youth Council which accused the wife of the APC presidential candidate of undermining the state Governor, Douye Diri.

However, Tinubu, who announced a donation N50,000 each to 1,000 IDPs at the Ox’ Bowlake pavilion and Igbogene camps in Bayelsa to aid their small-scale businesses, according to a statement by her media handlers on Saturday, said, “Our visit here today (Friday) was not political. But rather, it is to identify with you in the moment of need and pray that the state will not witness such natural disasters again.”

Meanwhile, the State Emergency Management Agency has dismissed reports that the senator made a cash donation to the flood victims.

The chairman of Bayelsa SEMA, Walamam Igurubia, told some of our correspondents on Saturday that Mrs Tinubu said the N50m token would be distributed to the flood victims by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva.

“She (Senator Oluremi Tinubu) promised to donate N50m (to flood victims). She made the promise at the Ox-Bow Lake (IDP camp), and that the money would be distributed by Sylva,” Igurubia added.

Similarly, the Ijaw Youth Council faulted Senator Tinubu’s decision to give the money to Sylva for distribution to the flood victims in the state.

The national spokesman for the IYC, Ebilade Ekerefe, said, “She (Mrs Tinubu) is undermining the governor of the state. Sylva is not the governor of the state. If she is reaching out to flood victims through Timipre Sylva, she is not reaching out to Bayelsa State, she is rather reaching out to APC members through Timipre Sylva.”

  NEDC donates relief items to Adamawa flood victims

Meanwhile, the Adamawa State Government on Saturday received relief items donated by the North-East Development Commission to cushion the effect of the recent flood disaster on thousands of victims displaced from their homes.

The Managing Director of the NEDC, Mohammed Alkali, who delivered the donations comprising food and non-food items, said the relief materials were meant to assist victims of the recent flood disaster in Adamawa.

The items comprised 10,000 bags of 25kg rice, 3,000 gallons of cooking oil, as well as non-food items made up of 5,000 pieces of blankets and wrappers, 3,000 pieces of mats and men’s fabrics.

He said, “During the last humanitarian meeting in August, which was presided over by Mr President. We promised at that time we were going to assist all the states in the North-East with some food and non-food items to cushion the effect of hardship everyone was witnessing around that time. At the time nobody even envisaged there was going to be a flood ravaging all of the North-East. So, this intervention came very timely to assist victims.”


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