By Adeyemi Olusoga
As unprecedented flooding ravages at least 27 states in Nigeria, elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark has accused the federal government of neglecting the Niger Delta region while concentrating relief materials in the northern parts of the country.
Clark queried why the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, whose mandate was to ensure strategic disaster mitigation, preparedness and response, has neither been to the Niger Delta nor sent any relief materials to them but donated food items to vulnerable and displaced persons as a result of banditry in Sokoto State.
In a statement titled: ‘The deplorable conditions of flood victims – Need for Federal Government to act fast, not to abandon the Niger Delta’, Clark asked President Muhammadu Buhari to name one project he has done in the Niger Delta.
Clark: “I enjoin the Federal Government bodies to act fast and sincerely. And should ensure that if relief items are provided, they will actually reach the right people for whom it is meant. The Federal Government should please act fast. A great disaster is looming.
“Even in 2012, I recall that it was so bad that I embarked on a visit to some of the flood-ravaged communities, both in Bayelsa and Delta States, with some relief materials, for the flood victims, to encourage them. Because at such times, whatever is donated to these victims goes a long way, to bring some sort of succour.
“Now, due to age and its attendant issues, I feel bad that I am not in a position to visit, or send relief materials. Unfortunately, the Federal Government seems to be nonchalant over the plight of the citizens in the Niger Delta.
“For instance, in Bayelsa State, there is a palpable case of humanitarian crisis. Most communities of the State, including the majority of parts of Yenagoa, the State capital, are underwater. The people of the state, who do not have where to go to, have resorted to some crude accommodation of pinning sticks inside the water, with a platform which they use as bed, made up of cellophane bags.
“There is starvation in the land, no water for the people to drink, the State is cut off from all sources that supply food to her, even electricity supply, has been cut off. The people now live in their homes with reptiles and other animals, whether aquatic, terrestrial or amphibian, which now drag spaces with humans in their homes, because these animals have also been displaced from their natural habitation because of the flood. It is a scary situation, as this exposes the people to danger. The Federal Government has not done anything to reduce the plight and suffering of the people.”
Clark said that Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State during his visit to affected communities on Saturday stated that the Federal Government has not sent a kobo, nor any relief materials to the state.
“The Governor of Rivers State, Ezenwon Nyesom Wike, also made similar statement a few days ago, when he made some donation to the flood victims in Rivers State. The country has ministries and agencies that are supposed to act in such cases, and act fast, because these are emergencies”, he said.
Clark said while the gesture to Sokoto was quite commendable, “the same gesture should, please, urgently and speedily be extended to the States of the Niger Delta, and other places, which are being ravaged by flood.”
He said, “In this case, it is not only foodstuff that is needed, but water, medical and other essentials are urgently needed because the Ministry’s mandate also includes implementation of fair, focused, social inclusion and protection programs in Nigeria. In addition, the National Emergency Management Agency established to handle disaster management, has not also visited the flood victims in the States of the Niger Delta.