*I was waiting to die— Octogenarian
*Otuaro, Dep Gov leads flood team
By Ochuko Akuopha
ASHAKA—FLOOD victims at Ashaka, Adia, Abala Oshimili and other endangered communities in Delta State have given reasons why, despite their pathetic condition, they refused to stay at the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps set up by government.
At Ndokwa East Local Government Area, ensnared residents, who rebuffed attempts by the council’s flood rescue team to evacuate them in rented houseboats, said some government officials maltreated and used them to enrich themselves in the 2012 flood and they do not want to be used again.
Many vowed to die in their community rather than move into the IDPs camp. But some victims have found their way to the IDPs’ camps at the Skills Acquisition Centre, Ashaka and Asaba Township Stadium, which are hosting 180 and 257 displaced persons, respectively, at the time of this report.
Eighty-five-year-old Pa Charles Obi stared wearily at his temporal settlement, mindful of the adverse situation he would have to contend with long after the flood, occasioned by heavy rains at the IDPs camp at Ashaka, last week.
I wanted to die
— Pa Obi
For him, the ravaging flood that had submerged houses, destroyed farmlands and household properties in his community, Aballa-Oshimili, like every natural disaster, has come along with excruciating hardship.
The octogenarian said he had lost hope and was patiently waiting for death when the flood rescue team set up by the Ndokwa East Local Government Area rescued him. He said: “The flood took over our community and destroyed our property. I suffered a lot from the flood due to the fact that I have arthritis, which prevented me from walking.”
Our challenges— Otuaro
Expressing worry at the reluctance of flood victims to relocate from their communities, Deputy Governor, Mr. Kingsley Otuaro, said, “The people have so much primordial attachment to their environment such that a lot of them are finding it difficult to leave their domain.”
Otuaro, who spoke when he led members of Delta State Flood Management Committee to some flooded areas and IDPs camp at Asaba, said the committee had carried out advocacy to persuade the people to leave their various domains to the IDPs camp “for proper checks, proper keeps and safety.
“In Delta State, we have a long stretch of coastline and the impact is real. It is our prayer that it will not be too much as we had in the 2012 flood disaster.”
Officials fleeced them in 2012
A member of the Ndokwa East flood rescue team, Mr. Major Azubike, said the reasons advanced by people of Adia-Obiaka for rejecting the evacuation move was the death of their traditional ruler, who they said lost his life in a boat mishap during a similar evacuation mission embarked upon by the council in 2012.
They are angry that government did nothing to assuage the pains of the people. He said: “They also told us that life in the place where they were camped at Utagba-Ogbe in 2012 was unbearable and that the people that managed the camp then were taking the food items meant for flood victims to their own homes.
“They complained that even the one bag of rice, which the state government ordered should be given to each flood victim was also taken away and government did nothing about it.” One of the IDPs at Ashaka, who sought anonymity, said the people were avoiding being used by politicians to enrich themselves.
He said: “In 2012, we were told that Federal Government released N500 million for flood victims. We learned that other monies were also released, but nothing was given to us.”
Our promise this time- LG chair
Commenting, chair, Ndokwa East council, Mrs. Nkechi Chukura, said, “Majority of them refused to come out after we have put everything in place to ensure they have very comfortable place to stay, but to our greatest surprise, each time we go to these communities they always refuse to come out.”
“They said the last time in 2012 after the flood, they went home with nothing; that they had nothing to eat and no home to live in even when they learnt there were monies given to them by the federal government and other donors, but at the end of the day not even a dime got to them.
“So because of that, they insisted that they do not want to come out that, they did not want politicians to start using them to make money again. However, we were able to plead with them that it is because of their lives that we are trying to ensure that they are safe. We told them to come out first and at the end of it all, if there is anything, we have to give them, we will ensure it gets to them.
“All efforts to get them to come out proved abortive though later on some of them started calling when it became much and we went back and started bring them out, because we have prepared the Skills Acquisition Centre at Ashaka, did fumigation there, ensured everything is okay.
The Commissioner for Special Duties had to come, he gave us foams, bed sheets and blankets and at the end of the day, we are managing to take care of those that are there. We are doing our best to ensure that they are okay,” she said.
Her words, “But now, others are trooping in, I made some inquiries and they said the water stood still at the River Niger, what it is doing is that it is now flowing into the communities, thereby making the volume of water at where they are staying very high. I think that is the reason why they are coming out on their own now.”
She assured that all hands were on deck to ameliorate the plight of the victims, saying the team would make all relief materials provided for displaced persons to them.