By Constance Meju
Since the 2012 flood which, submerged many coastal communities in the Niger Delta, especially, those by the banks of the Niger Delta, life has become a constant stress and an unending struggle with poverty.
Every year, the people battle with ravaging flood which literarily transports them back to a state of deprivation, loss, misery and constant poverty.
Unfortunately, for these community people, who bear the brunt of the hazards of oil and gas extraction to keep Nigeria going, no one cares about their plight so no development plans are put in place to reduce the effect of the flood. Their struggle with this natural disaster is without support from any arm of government, not even the famed ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Affairs; not from the state governments, which in their names collect huge allocations for oil derivation and ecological control but pay little or no attention to the challenges that confront them.
The situation this year is more pathetic as the flood shared attention with the harsh realities of COVID-19 pandemic and the ENDSARS protest. Much of Bayelsa State was submerged by the flood with a Rev. Father drowning in Kaima after slipping from a wooden bridge constructed over the raging flood. Homes of the poor, the rich and influential, including that of Seriake Dickson, immediate past governor of the state, were attacked by the flood.
In Rivers State, all of Ahoada West Local Government Area and part of the neighbouring Ahoada East Local Government Area were flooded and there were actions to assist them by government.
Sad enough, with the ENDSARS movement in full gear, it appeared nobody had time to attend to the victims. The usual NGOs, religious g and social groups’ intervention were clearly absent this time. All focus was on #ENDSARS.
An exasperated Chief Napoleon Ordu, Eze Ula Ubio in Ahoada East told this publication that the people are tired and, are resorted to calling on God knowing they have no helper.
“We cried out when the flood started coming. I alerted the media, we were on radio but nobody came to our aid.
“The water is now receding and like before, we will go and clean up and start again. Since government has abandoned us, we are calling on God and looking up to him.
Chief Ordu said the now perennial flood is a serious setback for his people. “We are finding it difficult because we have to start all over after the flood each year. We lose our farm, homes, properties and that keeps people from proper planning and progress. We are oil producing but nothing is coming our way”, he lamented.
Engenni youth in Ahoada West Local Government Area after frantic calls for help, took to the East/West Expressway to tell the world in a loud voice , their pathetic story. The LGA is a major oil producing area but development is a far dream there.
Activists say nothing explains the insensitivity of governments in the region better than the deaf ear to the flood victims. In Rivers State, the plight of flood victims was better under the Amaechi administration but the Wike government has exhibited less sympathy towards flood victims even though a major chunk of the 13 percent derivation fund comes from this axis of the state.
Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State is planning an Environment Summit to help marshal out how best to address the environmental challenges, including flooding in the state.
Director of Climate Change, Bayelsa State ministry of Environment, Dr Wakedei Davidson dropped the hint at the Cordaid End of Engagement programme in Port Harcourt on November 12, 2020.
He said incidents of flooding were not as pronounced years back and, as a result of climate change, it has become imperative to look at the environmental challenges in the state and Niger Delta, holistically.
He said the summit planned for early next year will examine new flood management plans, flood resilience plans, stakeholder engagement, propose vulnerability analysis for dry and rain seasons for proper adaptation.
Photos courtesy: Owolo Santos Owolo