Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, visited parts of Bayelsa State overtaken by the rampaging flood, which has rendered thousands of persons homeless and farmlands submerged to asses the situation, describing it as a major disaster.
Osinbajo, before landing with a helicopter at the Igbogene airstrips, overflew some of the areas and communities submerged in the flood and also visited the camps of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps with Governor Seriake Dickson and some federal government officials.
Earlier in Rivers State, Osinbajo said the country would have to build more canals and dredge rivers to check the cycle of flooding that has left thousands homeless and property destroyed.
Speaking at the IDPs camp at Okogbe in Ahoada West Council, yesterday, Osinbajo said the country could not let the cycle of flooding to continue unchecked.
The vice president, who flew over the council to witness the extent of the flooding that claimed over 10 lives in the area, said he was pained by the level of damage.
Accompanied by the Minister of Environment, Ibrahim Jibrin; Director General of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mustapha Maihaja; Senator Magnus Abe and former governor of the state, Chief Timipre Sylva, the vice president said they were in the state for an on-the-spot-assessment of the impact of the flood in Bayelsa at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He expressed shock at the level of devastation and pledged federal government’s support in resettling the IDPs, who have lost their homes and livelihoods.
He stated: “You are obviously going through a lot of stress, but despite that, you are still able to smile. On our way here, we overflew some of the communities affected by the flood and saw many areas affected by the flood, many homes, farmlands are under water.
“We were able to see that there is a major disaster in Bayelsa, especially in Yenagoa. We express our sincere condolences to you. It is a sad development. We are glad we were able to respond as quickly as possible.
“We will support as much as possible with the 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 the 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.”
Osinbajo, who observed that five women were delivered of babies at the IDP camps, promised that the federal government would render the necessary assistance to them.
Dickson emphasised the need for the federal government and donor organisations to collaborate with the state in providing long-term solutions to the perennial problem.
The governor expressed dismay over the initial omission of Bayelsa in the list of flood affected states and urged the federal government to recognise Bayelsa 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.
He said the state had 13 IDPs camps, while efforts were being made to establish three more to alleviate the plight of those displaced by the flood.
Dickson lamented the destruction of farmlands and sources of livelihood, such as farmlands and fishponds in the state, called on the federal government to equip NEMA to be able to render the necessary assistance to the victims.
The Vicarage General of the St. John’s Catholic Church, Igbogene, Rev. Father Joseph Opelema, said the church was accommodating 528 victims and requested for food items, mattresses, mosquito nets and other resources to cater for their needs.