Friday, 19 October 2018

Memories of 2012 Flood in Bayelsa: A Report From Pauline Onyibe

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The memories of 2012 flood cannot be forgotten in the lives of Bayelsans especially those that were victims and those that lost their precious ones to flood.

Although there were so may donations then from both public and private companies, people suffered hunger and lack of medical care then leading to the death of so many including children. Food stuffs donated by good spirited individuals and organizations found their way to Swali market that year while many bags of rice were used as Christmas gifts by the government.

The commissioner of environment then and the special adviser on relief materials or so then had enough to take home of course soaked bags of rice because they could not even be share to the displaced people that went to start life afresh. Also the 2018 flood is now ravaging the entire Bayelsa state and the state government had said it has approved fifty million naira (N50,000,000) to cushion the effects of flooding.

The Nigerian emergency management Agency had also announced that about 150,0000 persons were already displaced about two weeks ago while the number has increased as of the time of filling in his report. Alright, 50 million naira if shared among the 150,000 displaced people is about 333 for each victim.

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Now the displaced people have been there for more than two weeks now. Could that 333 have done anything tangible for them? Your guess is as good as mine.

Also the N333 for each person can it be assessed? NEMA said they had cleared some portions of lands for the IDPs at places like Biseni and mounted some tents at Egbebiri Community. They said they had over 110 tents to be mounted in different locations but at the Igbogenen IDP camp, there were only seven tents mounted inside the wet field that cannot be inhabited by anybody yet the federal government I suppose must have approved money for all these.

Also NEME said the medical teams were on ground from the federal and state ministries of health, to be assisted by members of the Red Cross Society, to avoid spread of diseases as a result of polluted water but a visit to the camp at Igbogene showed that there was no medical facility save the Nigeria Air force that came to render about five days medical services to the displaced persons.
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The governor also directed the State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu to mobilize health officials to provide immediate medical intervention in order to avoid any possible outbreak of epidemic caused by the flood but that was yet to be done as at when visited. Also the commissioner for information Bayelsa state Daniel Iworiso Markson had called on residents of the state who live in flood-prone areas to work with the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and other relevant agencies of government for immediate evacuation to temporary sites away from their homes.

At Tombia community, Friday Ayata a farmer who was living directly in front of the River Nun ( just by the River Bank) with his entire family although a wooden house popularly called Kpako house said “We are afraid because any time, the water can come and cover us here. “We need government to do something about this Tombia community. We are now planning to relocate to another place if we see anybody that can help us. We harbor ourselves there until after the flood. But if the state government can build a camp for us, we can be there. Also Evelyn Amatu the sister and a traditional birth attendant said “We are afraid as the water is coming but nowhere to go. We are just here, any time the water enters, and we will just raise our things and find somewhere to sleep. There is even a new born baby inside the house that I delivered yesterday. We don’t know what to do. Our farm lands have been taken over by flood. No food now for us. We are just like that.
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The mother of the new born baby who is not more than twenty years by name Rejoice James who gave birth to a baby girl in the shanty house very close to the River nun said “ I’m afraid. Afraid but I don’t know where to go. Water has already taken over our house at Agudama community. The mother of Rejoice James who spoke in Pidgin English Ayama Ezekiel said “When labour caught up with Rejoice, I met bike people but because of water, they said they were not going and there was no vehicle too and it was mid night around 2’Oclock. “What will I do? I have to carry somebody’s boat and I put her in the boat. God helped us we crossed but as we were crossing, the boat nearly capsized and she was the one bailing out the water. When the labour became unbearable, she will fall inside the boat and lie down.
“I entered one current, the boat nearly tumbled and there was no torch. We paddled to this community. My small boy helped me to paddle the canoe before we entered this place. No vehicle to take us to the hospital. No bike to take us to anywhere. Mama Rejoice however lamented that there was even no money to take care of Rejoice and the new born baby stating that water has taken over ever thing. Her little girl of little girl of ten years who called herself Favour Lishman ran to the mother demanding food but the mother told her there was none. Of course the mother had told favour that there was no food to eat as they were not in their house. Favour Lishman said she came from Agudama where water has taken over their house. “We are not going to school again because of the flood. I’m hungry. My mummy should give me food to eat.

Madam Preye Tari a farmer who was also affected by the flood said “I want to pack to Gbarantoru. My farm land has been taken over by water. I have packed my children out of this place to where they are but now water has reached there. We want to pack to Gbarantour. If water comes down we will go back. Madam Selekori Lawrence from Tombia community in her lamentation said “I don’t have where to stay. I don’t have where to stay. I just want to keep the loads there. I’m taking my things to the road. As the flood came, I was managing the inside but now it has been flooded so I’m going to the road side to put tent by the school of nursing and sleep there.

She continued “Governor has told them to open the school of nursing but it is not that way that he said it. He should negotiate with them because they are human beings too. People are writing exams now he should bring men and women to come and supervise the area and negotiate with the principal there to tell her; give these people this portion of the school but he has not done that.
“You cannot just say close down the school. No it is not a personal school. It is for the state. We cannot say people who are writing exams should not write. Disclosing that her occupation is farming she said “Everywhere has been taken over by flood. I’m not seeing any cassava anywhere again to harvest. No yam. Even the fishing I do, I have offloaded my nets now because there is no single fish.

Maintaining that they witness flood every year, she said that “We witness flood every year but not as much as this so the food we preserved, we will be managing it for now. A youth corps member in the community who called himself Samuel Odiba Wisdom from Kogi state said “We are affected by this food. As you can see everywhere is flooded and we don’t know what to do. “Federal government asked us to leave immediately but some of us don’t have transport because we have not been paid our allowance and then the indigenes are packing. They don’t even care about the strangers in their midst. We don’t know what to do. “But what I’m saying to those representing us there is that, if theirchildren are here, they know what to do. Assuming governor’s son is
here, he knows what to do. Assuming the ministers daughter is here, she knows what to do.“She should equally have the same mind with some people serving in their states. They are there to represent us. They are representing human beings not animals. They should have human feeling. It is not by driving in a convoy to come and see the water. We are talking about finding a solution to the affected ones. “We saw Governor and the deputy governor came to this place but nothing has been done. How are the Corpers feeding, how are they coping. There is nothing like. Of course, they have the means to do it. We are not trying to insult them. They are our leaders and we pray for them for wisdom. They should come to our aid. We are suffering seriously.
“Drinking water now we don’t even have. And we can’t drink the flood water. We are pleading with them where ever they are, they should come to our aid. They should not run away from challenges like this. Let them come and rescue us”. Wisdom said. A more worried affected victim Madam Joy Aganaba said “Even at this people are still stealing in this community. They steal the small garri you keep for your children. We are always hungry. No way to go to the farm. Water has taken over our farm. Before now I would have gone to bring cassava which we can manage but now, no way.

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