7 October 2012

Nigeria: Governor Obi's Cry for Help in Anambra State After Floods

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

Anambra State — With the plethora of canoes now plying the areas, you could easily mistake this terrain for a pure riverine area. But they are not. These were once lands, with roads snaking through them. Today what you have is a 'sea'.

Four local government areas in Anambra State - Ogbaru, Anambra West, Anambra East and Ayamelum - have virtually been submerged by flood that is ravaging the affected areas. It began in August this year with the flooding of farmlands in Anambra West and while the state government was making efforts to assist the victims, the misfortune affected three other council areas.

Governor Peter Obi had to suspend the Independence Day celebration to meander through the flooded Onitsha-Osomala road in Ogbaru and Nmiata road in Anambra West to supervise the evacuation of people trapped in their communities by the menacing flood.

The damage done by flood in the affected areas has been enormous. For instance, the entire Nzam, Aguleri Otu (where President Goodluck Jonathan commissioned the Orient Peterleum facility), Nmiata, Odekpe, Osomala, Osuche, Atani, Amii, Umuzu, among other communities in the state are now under water and properties worth billions of naira in the four local government areas destroyed.

Also, the Ogbaru Anglican Cathedral and the Catholic Church in Atani, the Divisional Police Station and the High Court and Magistrate Courts in the area, as well as secondary and primary schools have been totally submerged and canoes are plying there as if nothing existed in the area before the flood.

At the Ogbaru local government headquarters in Atani, the menacing flood pulled down the fence and flooded most of the offices, necessitating the evacuation of all government property. The affected churches had also removed all their property and the Bishop; Reverend Samuel Ezeofor had relocated his household to safe area.

Road sides, which served as refugee camps have also become flooded and it was only this development that made the refugees to agree to move into designated camps provided by government. After persuading the people to leave their properties and secure their lives first, Obi thereafter used canoe to reach other communities trapped across the River Niger. By the time he returned to continue his inspection, it was difficult coming out from Osamalla as flood had already covered the entire road though which he would leave. The governor and his team had to wade through the flood, which reached their waists to get to where the convoy of vehicles was parked.

At each of the communities - Akili-Ogidi, Akili-Ozizor, Amiyi, Atani, Mputu, Obeagwe, Ochuche, Odekpe, Ogbakuba, Ogwu-Aniocha, Agwuikpele, Ohita, Okpoko, Ossomala, Umunankwo, Umuodu, Umuzu - the governor explained to them why they should be evacuated and promised them that government would continue to assist them till the flood is over and rehabilitate them thereafter. Many camps have been established and government has provided the basic necessities to ensure that epidemic did not break out. Some places were designated as cooking points from where food is distributed to the camps located at Aguleri, Onitsha, Umuleri, among other places.

Even part of the commercial city of Onitsha housing many blue ship companies are also affected by flood, especially Habour Industrial Area. The governor had to wade through flood to visit all the affected factories. Some of the factories already submerged were Pokobros, Krisoral, Bororo pipes and profiling, among others.

THE senator representing Anambra South in the upper legislative chambers, Dr. Andy Uba, who also visited the affected areas, said the senate would allocate more funds in next year's budget for disaster management in various parts of the country in view the devastation caused by flood.

He said that while they were in Abuja sympathizing with other states affected by the disaster, he never knew that the situation in his own Anambra State was the worst as several communities in the five riverine local government areas have totally been submerged. The senator donated about N1 million.

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