– Describes Bayelsa as Worst-Hit State
– Questions Source of Minister’s Flood Data
Comrade Tamarakuro Oweifie, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Bayelsa State Governor on Media has frowned at comments credited to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Farouq, that Bayelsa Is not among the top-ten states hit by the devastating effects of the 2022 flood.
While expressing shock as to what basis Mrs Farouq used in making such unverified assessment, the SSA on Media wishes to put the record straight that Bayelsa stands as the worst impacted state from the floods due to several indices that are verifiable and uncontestable:
Of the 33 states forecast by NIMET earlier, to be flooded this year, it is only Bayelsa State that was cut off from the rest of the world as a result of the flood.
The two land access routes into Bayelsa through the East-West Road were totally impassable at the over ten kilometers Umeh- axis of the Patani-Ugheli end, in Delta State, as well as the over 19 kilometers stretch of the Okobe-Ahoada axis in Rivers State, thereby leaving residents at their own mercy.
Petroleum Products, cash crops and other basic necessities were totally not accessible into Bayelsa State as food shortages and fuel supplies were at an all time low leaving residents at the mercy of cut throat marketers who sell as high as a thousand naira for a litre of fuel which was never so in other flood impacted states across the nation which sell a little above the stipulated price of N180 per liter.
Beyond the non-availability of staple foods for residents and internally displaced persons, Bayelsa stands as the only state nationwide with ALL Local Government Areas affected by the flood leaving indigenes at the mercy of nature in want for humanitarian assistances of which the Federal Government through NEMA, was no where to be found since late September when the flooding began.
Thirdly, one wonders where the unverifiable statistics of deaths from the flood were arrived at by the Minister as no federal agency has been spotted in the state to take stock from established state machinery to ascertain the number of deaths that have occured in Bayelsa since the occurance of the devastating floods?
There have been over a hundred flood induced deaths occuring in the state without due records due to the challanging terrain as most health care centers and hospitals were closed down during this period.
The Bayelsa State Teaching Hospital Okolobiri, and other rural health centers have been shut down due to flooding.
Over 300 communities affected, and mortuaries in the state capital are currently filled up to capacity due to hundreds of flood impacted deaths and with rotten corpses and cadavas, such centers have bevome a death trap as having access to diesel to power generating sets for the only available public hospital, FMC Yenagoa morgue has been a Herculean task.
Bayelsa stand as the only state in the federation where public and private schools have been closed down for six weeks due to flood impacted losses while other states, as well as those, whom the Minister say are on the top-ten worse hit state, have been managing some public and private schools and getting education even amidst the menace, which is non existent in Bayelsa during this flood period.
Bayelsa State has faced a total shut down of its economy as a result of the flood as over 90% of its population have been directly or indirectly impacted by the ravaging floods.
Houses have been totally submerged in Biseni, Elemebiri, Ekperiwari, Sampou, Kalama, Tombia, and in all communities in Ekeremor, Sagbama, Kolokuma/Opokuma, Ogbia and Southern Ijaw.
The data relied upon by the Federal Government to place other northern states as worst hit than Bayelsa is erroneous and must be duly corrected.
The Minister should show us a state whose whole sources of economic livelihood were totally cut off as a result of the floods? She should show us a state that had all, and not partial impact of her LGAs under the flood? She should show us a state whose education system, public and private were totally stalled during this flood period?
Even the Federal Government Colleges in Bayelsa State are all on flood holidays as we speak while their counterpart in other states of the federation are under going academic activities?
The Minister should show us a state in Nigeria whose mortuaries were over flowing with corpses and cemetery popping up cadavas littering the streets as the deaths were humongous with no mortuaries nor burial grounds during this period to bury even the dead?
Such was the magnitude of the Humanitarian situation in Bayelsa that cannot be compared to others as the few health facilities were over stretched?
Show us a state whose health care systems were totally shut down as the hospitals and clinics were all impacted by the floods?
Show us a state whose access roads were impassable and no foods or potable water for Humanitarian needs can be accessed?
Bayelsa stands as the worst hit state as a result of the 2022 floods as the waters have been on the rise, at over 20 feet above sea levels in several areas; for the last one week a public health epidemic is looming if urgent interventions are not accessed with immediate alacrity.
Apart from the Bayelsa International airport which was not flooded as a result of the cost effective piling work done by the state government (to augment a Federal Government responsibility yet to be recouped) that has been the only access to the state but even at that the roads out of the airport are still impacted and damaged beyond repairs by the flood waters.
The land routes to Bayelaa State have been totally severed with resultant deaths recorded for those who defy the danger to go through the rising waters or patronise make shift articulated trailers or engine tug boats plying that route at cut throat fares to ferry pedestrians to neighbouring states of Delta and Rivers.
Cost of living in Bayelsa during this period have skyrocketed to an all time high with serious scarcity of staple foods threatening an imminent famine in the foreseeable future.
Thousands of homes, houses, farms, poultries, are still unaccounted for as access to these facilities to know the the extent and level of damages done have been a daunting task as the floods have hindered data analysts and humanitarian volunteers and workers to access interior areas of the state, and so, one wonders where the Minister got her data from to warrant her positioning Bayelsa State out of the worst impacted state of the 2022 floods?
We therefore call on the federal government through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Farouq to withdraw her provocative statement that Bayelsa is not among the ten worse hit state by the flood and for her to tender an unreserved apology to the people and victims of the flood in Bayelsa State for her error of judgement is questionable and frivolous.
While we shall hate to adduce any ethnic colourations in her statement, we wish to state categorically that Bayelsa State as the goose that lays the golden egg for Nigeria’s economic main stay of oil and gas, has been the worse hit as this is the only state where all her economic livelihood, health facilities, social infrastructure, have been destroyed by the floods in aLL Local Government Areas without exception; and we are yet to get any federal government assistance in spite of Mr President’s assurances to alleviate the plight of flood victims.
NEMA data stating otherwise are but a sham and should be revisited same way they corrected the earlier record that accorded only 3 LGAs impacted by the floods but have later rectified it to include all eight LGAs in Bayelsa State as fully impacted areas.
The Minister cannot rely on number of LGAs affected or use landmass as yard stick to determine extent of impact without taking into cognisance the total number of LGAs in a state before making such hasty conclusions.
While Jigawa has more LgAs than Bayelsa with over half of the state impacted by the flood, Bayelsa has ALL are LGAs impacted with over 90% of the state submerged and her economic and health main stay totally threatened while these so called top ten states had less percentage affected and have other options and trade troutes to make do with during the floods.
For the records, Bayelsa has recorded more houses submerged to roof tops, FDPs, damages, injuries, losses, and even over a hundred deaths from the flood than any other state in Nigeria due to this year’s flooding.
The time to act is NOW!
Comrade Tamarakuro Oweifie
Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Bayelsa State Governor on Media