By Paul Efiong
The Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, has described floods that ravaged parts of Bayelsa it as a major disaster.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the Bayelsa State Governor, on Media Relations, Fidelis Soriwei, said Mr Osinbajo made the statement when he, Governor Henry Seriake Dickson and some Federal Government officials visited internally displaced persons camps in the state at the weekend.
The vice president was accompanied by the state governor, Mr. Dickson, Senator Magnus Abe, the Minister of Environment, Ibrahim Jibrin, the Director General of National Emergency Management Agency, Mustapha Maihaja and former governor of the state, Timipre Sylva.
Mr Osinbajo said his team was in the state for an on-the-spot-assessment of the impact of the flood in Bayelsa.
The Vice President who explained that his delegation was in the state at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, expressed shock and pledged Federal Government’s support in the area of resettling the IDPs, who lost their homes and livelihoods.
Mr. Osinbajo said, “You are obviously going through a lot of stress but despite that, you are still able to smile.
“On our way here, we overflow some of the communities affected by the flood. We saw so many areas affected by the flood, many homes, farmlands are under water.
“We saw clear that it is major disaster indeed.
“We were able to see that there is a major disaster in Bayelsa especially in Yenagoa. We express our sincere condolences to you. Its a sad development. We are glad we were able to respond as quickly as possible.
“We will support as much as possible with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) which is working hard to ensure that we give as much succour and provision of tents, mattresses, food, mosquito nets and all that are required.
“In the next few weeks, many will be returning home where many have lost their homes, farmlands and livelihoods. We will support Bayelsa state government in the resettlement efforts which is more important.”
“In future, we want to be able to prevent this situation. It’s repeating itself in 2018 so steps need to be taken to dredge our rivers, stop dumping of solid waste into our water bodies, clear waterways and build canals, so that there will be no flooding.”
The VP, who observed that five women were delivered of babies in the IDP camps noted that the Federal Government would render the necessary assistance to them.
“Have seen about five women who have given birth. A lot of them would require a lot of care. We are committed to supporting them in whatever way we can. We are here with the NEMA DG to understand first-hand what is required,” he added
Earlier, Governor Seriake Dickson had emphasized the need for the Federal Government and donor organizations to collaborate with the state in providing long term solutions to the perennial problem.
Governor Dickson, who expressed dismay over the initial omission of Bayelsa in the list of flood affected states, urged the Federal Government to recognize the state as the most impacted state in the country as it was entirely below sea level.
“We are dealing with a flood disaster of monumental proportion. Let it be known at the centre that this is the state that is inevitably always most affected because of our peculiar terrain and topography.
“The entire state is below sea level so once there is any slight increase in water level from the rivers that are all around us, the whole of this state is submerged.”
The governor said the state had 13 IDP camps while efforts were being made to establish three others to alleviate the plight of those displaced by the flood.
Mr. Dickson, who lamented the destruction of farm lands and other sources of livelihood like fish ponds in the state, called on the Federal Government to equip NEMA to be able to render the necessary assistance to the victims.