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Empathising with flood victims

In  Niger, Edo, Delta, Anambra , Kogi, Rivers, Bayelsa, Benue, Kaduna,  Kwara, Kano and kastina states, the tales are the same–flood victims are  ruing their looses.

File: Osinbajo and Obiano visited flood disaster in Anambra and Delta States today.

Available statistics indicate that no fewer than 200 lives have been lost while properties worth millions, farm lands and other valuables were submerged and decimated recently by flood.

More so, over 600,000 persons were said to have been displaced by flood while an estimated 2 million people were affected in the aforementioned states.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) had issued flood alerts to the affected states.

The agency had predicted that a rise in the water level to over 10.1 metres and warned the residents of the states to take precautionary measures.

As predicted, the rains came in torrents; rivers overflew their banks and rampaging flood invaded and sacked many communities.

The Federal Government’s response was apt and has been impactful.

The Vice President Prof. Yemi  Osinbajo, on the directive of the President Muhammadu Buhari, hit the ground running-reaching out to flood victims in affected states.

In the affected states he visited, Osinbajo brought messages of hope to the devastated communities.

On a condolence visit to Niger State, Osinbajo said that President Buhari had delegated him to visit the flood victims.

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“Mr President asked me to come and check your welfare.

“We shall do our best to help everyone so you can resettle well, go back and continue your work. We are paying attention to everything going on here. God bless you all.”

At the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Kotonkarfe and Lokoja, Kogi State, Osinbajo empathised with the victims and brought Buhari’s condolences to them.

The vice president said that the Federal Government would synergise with the state government to rehabilitate the victims and bring succour to them.

“I have already done some preliminary assessment; some relief materials have been sent and there is a need for more and we will ensure that more relief materials are sent.

“We should be able to accommodate our people to be as comfortable as possible despite the terrible circumstances of this flooding.

“We moved round and we have taken a look at many of the flood sites and it is very clear that a lot of damage has been done to farm lands and to houses.

“So, this is only the first stage; I am here to look at what has gone wrong and what has happened. Land and properties are under water and after this period, when the water recedes, that is really when the hard work begins because those who have lost farm lands need to be restored somehow and need to be compensated including those who have lost houses and property.’’

In Anambra, Osinbajo said he observed with dismay the massive destruction of farmlands by the flood.

“We have directed the NEMA to continue to deploy relief materials to the IDP Camps and some homes, where residents have refused to leave.”

More so, in the neighbouring, Delta State, Osinbajo ordered NEMA to urgently supply additional relief materials to all the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps across Delta.

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Osinbajo addressed the flood victims in the IDP Camps at the Ogbeafore Primary School in the Institute of Continuing Education, Asaba.

He gave an assurance that the Federal Government would resettle the victims after the flood.

“Let me say how very touched I am by just seeing all of you who are here and who have had to be evacuated from your homes and various communities where you live to this place as a temporary shelter.

“This I think underscores the enormity of the disaster here and what needs to be done.

“There is a lot of work to be done, not just by way of providing temporary relief and succour which is going to be done in the IDP camps.

“And we also ask that NEMA move quickly to supply additional relief materials to all of the camps across the state by the end of today or tomorrow.

“The more difficult part which we need to discuss with the state government is how to ensure that when the flooding subsides, we are able to resettle people to bring them back to enable them to continue with their livelihood.

“That will involve helping to resettle those whose farm lands have been submerged to be able to return to their farm lands and those whose livelihood have been disrupted in one way or the other.

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“We have to find ways of compensating them so that they can get back to normal life,” he said.

In Rivers State, Osinbajo said that the extent of flooding in homes and most villages indicated that the disaster was enormous.

He said that was need for immediate intervention and thanked the state government for what it had done in trying to curtail the problem.

The vice president promised that the Federal Government would give all the support necessary to ensure the comfort and proper resettlement of the IDPs.

“I am glad to say Federal Government will give all the support necessary to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible under the circumstances here.

“More importantly, to also ensure that you are resettled properly when in the next few weeks you care about to go back home,’’ he said.

Osinbajo also assured them that the Federal Government regarded the resettlement phase as very important aspect of its intervention.

Sharing similar empathy at St. John’s Catholic Church, Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, Igbogene, Yenegoa, Bayelsa State after his inspection of flooded areas in the state, Osinbajo assured flood victims in Bayelsa that the Federal Government was committed to alleviating their pains.

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He said that he was touched that despite the flood and what all the people had been through, they were still able to welcome him warmly.

The vice president commended the very Rev. Joseph Okplema, the Vicar-General of the parish for taking care of the flood victims. He said the Vicar’s action was exemplary of a Christian leader.

He said it was the duty of the state and the Federal Governments to ensure that they provided help and succour for the victims.

The vice president said that he looked forward to giving the victims  as much support as possible.

“This is one of the reasons why I am here; I am not here alone; I am with the Minister of Environment, Mr Ibrahim Usman Jibril and also the Director-General of NEMA, Engr. Mustapha Maihaja to assess for ourselves, what exactly is going on.

“We want to know how bad it is; how many victims there are, the nature and extent of the disaster, so we can advise properly and give you the kind of comfort and succour you need.

“So that is why we are here and I am very happy that I have been able to see for myself.

“I want to commend you for your spirit, for not giving up at all, but remaining resolute and confident. That is the true Bayelsan spirit, the true spirit of the Nigerian.  We cannot give up and we will not give up.

“I want to say on behalf of President Buhari, on whose instructions I am here, that we will stand by you and make sure we provide what you need,” he said.

He said he had been told that some people still needed mattresses, nets and among others things.

Osinbajo said that he would make sure that everything needed by the victims was provided, adding that cow meat would also be provided to complement the food stuffs available.

He assured the victims that they would be properly taken care of and resettled at their respective homes.

Substantive as the Federal and State Governments’ interventions in the flood affected areas may be, observers say that pragmatic steps should be taken to avert further occurrences and loss of lives and property.

They say it was high time a buffer dam was built in Adamawa to check the annual excesses of water released from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon.

According to environmentalists, there should be sustained dredging of rivers and water channels and creation of canals to avert flooding.

NAN


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