•Onyah, Utuoku, Okpai, Adiai-Obiaku, Utchi, Abala-Oshimili, Aboh, Okpai, Beneku, Utuoku, Asaba-Ase communities worse hit

•Group slams Ndokwa leaders for deserting kinsmen

By Emma Amaize & Ochuko Akuopha

Flood ravaged Adagbabiri community

RESIDENTS  of Onyah, Utuoku, Okpai, Adiai-Obiaka, Utchi, Abala-Oshimili, Aboh,Okpai, Beneku, Utuoku,   Asaba-Ase and other oil-bearing communities in Ndokwa East Local Government Area, Delta State, have been through horrible nightmares, over the years, with nobody to hear their cries.

The villagers leave home in the morning for their farms and market only to find that their houses have been eaten up by sea surge and gully erosion when they return home in the evening.

Rising sea surge, which frequently exacerbated the gully erosion washed off part of the road to one of the communities, Asaba-Ase, after the 2012 flood disaster, and the culvert that was provided was again washed off by flood in 2020.

Presently, over 20 oil-bearing communities situated along the bank of River Niger in Ndokwa East area Delta State are currently under the threat of extermination, following recurrent flooding and gully erosion wreaking havoc on the areas.

Group blasts Ndokwa leaders
Global Coordinator of Deltans Lives Matter, DLM, a nongovernmental organization, which first drew attention to the predicament of Ndokwa communities, Christian Abeh, told NDV: “The riverine good people of Ndokwa East local government area have been suffering from terminal neglect by their respective representatives at all levels.”

“In Ndokwa East, the riverine communities will be no more in the next few years if urgent steps are not taken to stop the menace of gully erosion which is daily cutting off their houses into the river for over twenty years now.

“It is only in Ndokwa East local government area you will see a house in the morning but would not be there in the evening when you return from farm or market. This is an unfortunate situation.

“The most annoying thing is that the Ndokwa nation boasts of political heavy weights like Senator Patrick Osakwe, who was in the Senate for 12 years; Nicholas Ossai Ossai, who has been in the House of Representatives for 10 years now;Friday Osanebi, former Deputy Speaker, state House of Assembly; Festus Ochonogor, who was Senior Political Adviser and now a super commissioner. What about Chief Godwin Obielum and the rest of Ndokwa billionaires who are private business owners, yet their people suffer unnecessarily.

“It is quite unfortunate, why should these leaders not draw the attention of the federal and state governments to the plight of their people at the riverine,” he said.

Calamity triggered by annual R’Niger flooding —Osborg, indigene
An indigene of Okpai community, Mr. Tony Osborg, told NDV: “The annual flooding, over the years, has brought about degradation of river banks leading to a massive loss of arable lands of rural farming communities. The ebbing of the flood is usually followed by erosion.”

“In Aboh Kingdom for example, the historic British- built and over 100-year- old brick storey building palace of the late Obi Oputa is already endangered by erosion. Part of the palace fence has already caved in and if nothing is urgently done, the entire monument would be gone in few years.

“Every attempt by the community to reach out to various agencies, including the NDDC, NEWMAP (Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project) and the state government had brought no result. The erosion has continued to eat up every available land even as I speak and it is caused by the annual flooding of the River Niger.”

Ndokwa group slams SEEPCO
Meanwhile, the Ndokwa East Local Government Area Development Organization, NELGADO,  in a letter to SEEPCO, a company operating in the area, titled, “SOS In Respect Of The Massive/Destructive Erosion Caused by SEEPCO Barge Movements On The Niger in Ndokwa East LGA,” said: “It is observed that these barge movements have led to an annual shoreline erosion of 10 to 20 meters in some of the communities on the part of Onyah, Utuoku, Adiai-Obiaka among other communities.”

The letter by the chairman, Dr. Titus Obiora Enuebuka, chairman and Onyah community leader Engr. Ikechukwu Onyeanokwe,  said: “SEEPCO has recently been awarding contracts for dredging only the pathway of their barge. This is a wrong environmental practice very detrimental to the communities in Niger. 

Furthermore, the sand from these dredging activities of SEEPCO is deposited back into the Niger instead of the nearby communities where these barges move in their 10s and 20s on daily basis.”

It called on the company to sand-fill the affect communities along the Niger using the dredged sand from its ongoing route dredging operations, saying: “This will go a long way towards combating the perennial flood suffered by the communities”.

The group also appealed to the company to sponsor “shore protection projects as a matter of urgency to save these communities from extinction on account of SEEPCO barge movement.”

We need assistance —Kaine, Utooku youth president
Youth president of Utuoku, Mr. Enuesike Kaine, asserted: “To even get water is a problem because the river is the only source where we get water. We are really appealing to the federal and state governments to come to our aid in any way they can to help our people. As it stands now, we do not really know what to do again because the community cannot pack from the place of our ancestral settlement. Recently, erosion carried part of peoples building into the River Niger.”

We drink contaminated water —Uzor, Onyah youth president
Similarly, youth president of Onyah community, Mr. Morgan Uzor, screamed: “The schools are not functioning; primary and the secondary schools buildings are in very bad shape.  What we are experiencing is erosion from the River Niger and buildings are been flushed away. This is where we are from and we keep managing it, drinking very dirty water. The color of the water is very bad.”

Flood destroys culvert — Anagbogu, Asaba-Ase P-G
At Asaba-Ase community, where the people has embarked on the construction of a wooden bridge after the big culvert linking the community from Uzere in Isoko South was destroyed by the 2020 flood, the story is not different.

President-General of the community, Mr. Godfrey Anagbogu, asserted: “This problem has been on since the 2012 flood disaster in which some part of the road was washed away. When we cried to the federal government to intervene, it did a culvert through Federal Road Maintenance Agency, FERMA. Then in 2013 and 2014, flood washed off some parts of the road, which is the only federal presence we have.

“In 2018, the thing happened again and we now cried to the state government, it intervened through DESOPADEC with palliative. However, when the 2020 flood came, even the culvert they put in there was removed by the flood.

“Immediately after the flood, we started going back again; we met our representative in the House of Representatives, sent a message so that at least there should be vehicular movement in and out of Asaba-Ase. In fact, there is a diversion there; this community saw hell in making sure this diversion came. We had to pay for portions of lands owned by most families before we hired trucks to do the job, which took almost N2 million.

Villagers levy themselves to construct N6m wooden bridge
“So, the problem is a challenge, we came back,   sat down and said if the government say they are not going to help us,   then we have to help ourselves, otherwise we would be cut off, market would not work and people would find it difficult to move the way things were going.

“Therefore, we levied ourselves, men – N6,000 and women – N4,000, people of goodwill from other communities have been donating, some people operating in the market and the women gathered money, which is what we have been doing. No dine from the state and federal government, so it is self-help.

“It was culvert then, but the way it is now, no culvert can get in there unless they remove the one that was washed away by the flood. So, after some research, we found out that they do (wooden bridges) in the USA and other places and we went into it. 

What you see there has taken nothing less than N6 million. We are owing the wood man about N1.8 million for the first set of woods,” he said.

Miserable and painful situation —Odoni, PRO
Also speaking, public relations officer of the community, Chief Newworld Odoni, said: “Our life is miserable; it is a very painful situation.  We have gone to the government; we have gone to our representatives and have complained severally, no solution forthcoming, so we resorted to self-help but we are financially constrained.”

We don’t know what govt uses ecological fund for — Imegwu, ex-Speaker
Former deputy speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Olisa Imegwu, who hails from the area was flabbergasted by the sufferings of his people, saying:  “It is terrible, all the money they have been approving in the ecological funds we do not know what they are using it for. Whether they are using it to develop Asaba, doing drainage and drainage sub-protection in Asaba and Ibusa, we cannot say.

‘The ecological fund has always been in the budget and state governors are supposed to use the money in such areas, but we do not see the impact in Ndokwa East.  They should not forget these communities are at the bank of the River Niger, now the flood is coming and if the flood comes the whole of Ndokwa East is about 98 per cent flooded and each time the flood comes, the erosion gets worse.

Water reserve bank required —Ossai Ossai
Contacted, the member representing Ndokwa/Ukwuani Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Ossai Ossai, said: “What is required to save Niger-Delta is a big dam that will channel the water that are flowing up into a water reserve bank”

“I believe a reserved area like what was done in Cameroon and Chad, a kind of damp should be channeled for Nigeria whereby most of the water that are flowing towards the Niger-Delta area can be channeled to that particular reserve so it will decrease the issue of flooding in the Niger-Delta. I think it requires a lot of political solution.

“The question is that National Assembly should scrutinize the ecological fund. I am calling on my colleagues to scrutinize and look deep inside ecological fund in other to save the Niger-Delta area, especially the Ndokwa/Ukwuani Federal Constituency that is being ravaged by flooding

“To be sincere, the Federal Government put ecological funds into a pool and distribute to all states, my position is that it is not the best way to go. The best way to go is federal government should use the pool of money to solve the problems themselves.

“Money for the ecological funds should be used for such purposes by the federal government to tackle the flooding in different parts of our country,” Hon Ossai said.

Vanguard News Nigeria


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