Vanguard (Lagos)

7 October 2012

Nigeria: River Niger Creates 500,000 Refugees, as Dokpesi's House Submerges

Photo: Vanguard
Areal view of Lokoja, Kogi State…under the siege of flood

Edo state — Not less than 500,000 persons have become refugees in Edo State as a result of the ravaging flood problem caused by the over flow of the River Niger. The ravaging flood which has taken over 20 communities and destroyed virtually everything in the affected areas including, buildings, house hold properties and food crops in their farmlands. At the Ekperi Grammar School, Ugbekpe Ekperi, there were over 60, 000 refugees from Yuluwa village, Ofukpo, Agbabu, Iguzi-Ofukpe, Udaba, Unudoboh, Udaba-Ogho, Anegette all in Etsako Central.

Governor Peter Obi , with Anglican Bishop of Mbamili, Most Rev. Henry Okeke transversing what was once a sprawling community of Umueze Anam in a boat.

The palace of the Daudu of Usumegbe, Chief John Musa, and that of the village head of Udaba, Chief David Inetape are among the buildings that have been submerged in the flood. The houses of the proprietor of DAAR Communications, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi and that of the former chairman of Etsako West, Stanley Odidi were among those that submerged.

In Agenebode, the headquarters of Etsako East Local Government Area and its surrounding villages have also been taken over by the flood, while Ilushi, Urho, Urhowa and Inyelen in Esan South East Local Government Area have completely been destroyed by the flood with the entire people moved to Ubiaja the council headquarters. Governor Adams Oshiomhole inspected the affected areas penultimate week with a helicopter.

At some point the governor and his entourage had to paddle canoes in order to get access to some of the interior communities. All the affected communities are in Etsako Central, Etsako West and Esan South East Local Government Councils of the state.

Oshiomhole who expressed shock over the incident, described it as worse than tsunami and immediately released the sum of N100million for the purchase of relief materials for the victims. He also assured that government will look for a long-term solution to avoid a re-occurrence in the future just as he said government will liaise with the Federal Government to get relief for the displaced persons.

"What has happened is an act of God and no one can challenge the will of God. In other parts of the country, we have heard of the loss of lives, but so far we have not recorded any death. Let us pray that the river goes back to its boundary.

We are sending relief materials which must be shared to everybody irrespective of which political party they belong to, and doctors will be sent to treat those who are sick. We are also sending the Comrade Buses to evacuate those still in the flooded communities to the camps. More communities are affected and the water level is rising. We all appear completely helpless and the Federal Government ought to do more than they have done. The situation calls for a far more drastic response" he added.

Oshiomhole noted that there are long-term implications as farm lands have been destroyed, domestic animals have been killed.

"This phenomenon got even more intense last year and so far, this year, it has become very alarming as all rivers in the country have overflowed their banks and a large number of communities and local governments from Lokoja in Kogi through Etsako West in Edo State down to Biase in Cross River State are all presently under water and as the rainy season peaks, we must be vigilant for more flood incidents, because the weather has become unpredictable and extreme conditions like excessive rainfall, severe windstorm, heat wave and drought have become more frequent with adverse effects on the economy, environment, agricultural production and food security lives and livelihoods" he stated.

However, the situation became more tragic when four persons were said to have died in the camps. A middle-aged man identified as Alhaji Bila, reportedly slumped and died at the Ekperi Grammar School, Etsako Central Local Government Council.

Public-spirited individuals have continued to send relief materials to the displaced persons to ameliorate their plight. Some of those who have been assisting so far includes the former chairman of Etsako West Local Government Council, Stanley Odidi, the national leadership of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), TY Danjuma Foundation, a chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) John Akhigbe and host of others.

Bila slumped and died during an on-the-spot assessment of flood ravaged communities and presentation of relief materials and medical support services by the NMA led by its President, Dr Osahon Enabulele. Meanwhile the Committee set up by the Edo State Government to distribute relief materials to the affected persons has intensified its activities.

While distributing the materials, last Monday, Chairman of the Relief Committee working in conjunction with the State Emergency Relief Agency, Hajia Maimuna Momodu, said the relief materials were palliative measures to soothe the pains of the victims and take care of their immediate needs.

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