It is no longer news that several states in Nigeria, especially Kogi, Benue, Edo, Delta, Anambra, Bayelsa and Rivers state are currently battling to handle the emergencies created by the flood in their communities. Mostly affected by this flood are communities lying on the bank of River Niger and its tributaries.
In Rivers State, no fewer than 24 communities that lie on the bank of River Niger and its tributary, Orashi River are presently submerged while at least three persons have drowned as a result of the flood. Mostly affected are: Udoda, Igovia, Kunsha, Ikodi Town, Mbiama, Akinima, Okolobiama, Okparaki, Okarki town, Akiogbologbo, Agbo, Ishiaye, Akioiso, Isusu, Isua, Odqwa, Edagberi and Betterland as well as Oshiebele, Oshi, Odiereke-Ubie, Enito, Akara-mini, all in Ahoada-West local government area of the state.?
Also, areas badly hit by the disaster include, Okwuzi, Ase-Azaga, Isukwa, Odugiri. Agwe, Onikwu, Ugbaja, Isala, Ogbe-Ogene, Utu, Adiawai, Obiofu, Kreigani, Obrikom, Idu, and Ebocha as well as Umu-Onyema quarters in Ndoni, all in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government area of the state. Unfortunately, the Rivers State government, the authorities of two affected local government councils as well as the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was not in the know of the flooding in the communities until the Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology raised the alarm.?
Members of the committee, led by the Chairman, Senator Bukola Saraki were on their way to Edageberi-Betterland communities in Ahoada-West local government area for an oversight visit to oil spill sites when they were confronted by the natural disaster. In fact, as a result of the flood, members of the committee could not have access to the oil spill sites they had planned to visit.
Deeply touched by the plight of victims of the flood, Saraki assured them that his committee would officially get to NEMA to come to their aid. This is as the state commissioner for environment, Dr. Nyema Weli, who was on the entourage of the senators, was rattled by the problem.?
Weli, who said the state government was not aware there was flood challenge in the area, however assured that urgent steps would be taken to mitigate the plights of victims of the flood.?
He said, “I have asked the permanent secretary why nothing was heard about the flood in communities in Ahoada-West local government area. As we were coming to this place, I was wondering where people are staying since water have taken over their houses. I am not aware of this situation before now.”?
While families have parked out of the affected communities in the area, farmers in the area have begun early harvesting of their root crops, especially cassava and yam so as to avoid losing them to the flood. An indigene of Edageberi community, Bonny Otatie Ulolo, said although, people of the area usually experience minor flooding every November as a result of over-flow of the Orashi River, the present situation was unprecedented in the history of the communities.
According to some victims, the problem started about a week ago as they said most of the affected communities had been used to flood problems in the past but not up to this current magnitude.?
In Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government area of the state, three persons, an infant and two women died and several others displaced, following a flood disaster that ravaged many communities in the area. Already, the state commissioner for special duties, Chief Emeka Nwogu, in company of the chairman of the council, Hon. Raymond Nwokeocha has visited the affected communities to ascertain the level of damage. Nwogu, who was deeply touched by the plight of the victims, expressed sympathy over the incident, describing it as a great loss to the state and appealed to those that are yet to evacuate to do so to avoid more loss of lives.?
Assuring the people in the affected communities that the state government would provide relief package for them, the commissioner later visited the Saint Esther Chosen Clinic in Obrikom community, where two people who survived electrocution following the flood on their way home from their farmland were receiving medical attention.?
Indigenes of the affected communities blamed the cause of flood on the over flow of the River Niger, explaining that the last time they experienced such flooding was in 1994 and 1998 respectively and described this year’s disaster as exceptional.?
A visit to the affected communities revealed that majority of the indigenes lost their farms to the ravaging flood, while farmers were seen hurriedly harvesting their crops prematurely especially cassava and yams to avoid losing them to the flood.?
To Emenike Umesi, the South-South co-ordinator of NEMA, the agency had been aware of the flood situation in the affected communities in Ahoada-West and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government area of the state and had been working on the affected areas. He said they had concluded assessment of the affected communities to determine the level of assistance that could be given to the victims, adding that agency identified a camp for victims but it was swept off by flood.?
The coordinator, who said the agency had already alerted the local government authority of the incident, stated that the local government council would now give them another space to set up a fresh camp for the victims.?
He appealed to states in the South South geo-political zone to set up State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to urgently tackle disasters of that nature, expressing the hope that such agency would help to efficiently manage disaster situations in the region.?
To Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, there is the need for the National Assembly and federal government to put in place workable measures that would address problems of environmental degradation and flooding in the Niger Delta region and the country.