Dr. Abc Orjiako did not know how enormous the recent flood that swept across some states of the country was untill he saw the plight of the displaced people in Ogbaru in Anambra State on teleivion. Touched by their condition, he decided to alleviate their problem. Emmanuel Onyejena writes
The Uli, Anambra State-based Daniel Orjiako Memorial Foundation (DOMF) brought succour and relief to flood victims from Atani, Ogbaru, Ogwu Anioacha, Ogwu Ikpele, and Osamala, all in Ogbaru Local Government area of Anambra State and their neighbours of Akwa, Usham, and Okija in Ihiala Local Government across the Urashi River, a tributary of the Niger River, when the foundation's chairman, Dr. Ambrose Bryant Chukwueloka (ABC of) Orjiako, a Catholic Knight of Saint Gregory the Great (KSSG) and an Officer the Federal Republic (OFR) visited them at their camps scattered in various places within Ihiala LGA.
The flood victims fall into two broad categories. Unlike the refugees from Ogbaru local government area whose houses and farmlands were submerged by the flood, the IDPs of Ihiala area only had their farmlands and crops entirely washed off by the flood. Though they are not refugees in the real sense of it as they still live in their houses, they nevertheless are all properly classified as "flood victims" in view of the losses they suffered and therefore entitled to relief in one form or the other.
In the wake of the floods, these coastline dwellers, just like their counterparts in other flood affected areas of the country, suddenly found themselves seeking shelter wherever they could find one in the upland areas. At the earlier days about 2,500 internally displaced persons (IDPs) were crammed into one classroom block at the Community Primary School Umudara in Ihiala. Another 1,000 refugees are still scattered across parts of the surrounding villages in Ihiala including Akwa and Usham in Uli. Before the floods, these agrarian communities, lived off their farm lands and fishing. But within the space of one week of uncontrolled overflowing of the banks of the River Niger, these coastline dwellers looked on helplessly as everything they had laboured for were submerged by floods.
However help came the way of the nearly 3,000 IDPs, penultimate Friday as Orjiako the tireless philanthropist and oil magnate, undertook a "mercy tour" of the affected areas personally handing out relief materials to the victims. Orjiako's travelling team had with them a lorry load of relief materials that included 150x50kg bags of rice; 50x50kg bags of beans, several cartons of corned beef and sardines, 50 cartons of noodles, 20 cartons of tomato puree, five giant sacks of treated mosquito nets (tmns), among other items.
Orjiako who is also chairman of Neimeth Pharmaceuticals International, equally came with a separate delivery van that contained several cartons of Niemeth branded drugs among them worm expellants, antiseptics, analgesics and various antibiotics.
Among those who accompanied the philanthropist on the tour were the former Member Representing Ihiala Federal Constituency Hon. Vitalis Okafor, the two serving State Assembly Members, Hon. Tokas Ohazulike (Ihiala State Constituency 1) and Hon. Emeka Anohu (Ihiala State Constituency 11) respectively. Also at hand was the Chairman of Ihiala Local Government Council, Hon. Chinedu Ukachukwu. From the religious were Monsignor Felix Ojimba and some priests, as well as the Principals of School of Nursing and School of Health Technology both at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Ihiala and about 20 nurses.
Medical personnel from Our Lady of Lourdes came because, Orjiako, himself an orthopaedic surgeon, insisted that the drugs must be warehoused at a dedicated hospital from where qualified medical personnel would administer treatment to the refugees to avoid drug abuse.
Explaining the motive behind undertaking the tour personally, Orjiako said the shocking pictures of the flood disaster moved him on television, while on a business trip abroad. He said although the Seplat Petroleum Development Company Limited, an oil company which he is the chairman, had earlier donated lorry-loads of relief materials to Anambra, Delta, and Kogi States through the respective state governments, he opted to undertake a tour of Ihiala refugee camps because he comes from the local government and so needed to personally commiserate with the victims.
Addressing the IDPs at Umadara Community Primary School camp, which still holds 1,500 refugees from Ogbaru LG, Orjiako urged the victims to always pray and believe that they will ultimately overcome the present setback and return to their homes pretty soon.
A spokesman of the refugees at Umadara camp thanked Orjiako on behalf of his fellow victims. He said it was the first time they would receive such a high profile personal visit by any individual. Orjiako visited the headquarters of Ihiala LGA and the Usham camp where he met and commiserated with the refugees and equally distributed materials to them. In fact, he inspected some devastated farmlands washed off by the flood near Usham.
Earlier in a speech, the Uli LG Chairman, Chief Ukachukwu commended Orjiako's public-spiritedness and promised that all the items would be judiciously distributed to all the victims. Ukachukwu said he has in place a medical team headed by a doctor who would liaise with Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Ihiala to ensure the refugees received medical attention as and when needed.