The House of Representatives on Tuesday urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Ecological Fund and related agencies to be proactive in tackling the menace of flooding in Bayelsa and all other states in the federation.
This was sequel to a motion under matters of urgent public importance by Rep. Duoye Diri (PDP-Bayelsa) on the need to curb the unending cycle of severe flooding and grief in Bayelsa.
Moving the motion, Diri explained that floods, one of the most common hazards facing humanity, were caused by a variety of factors.
He listed the factors to include a sudden accumulation of rain, overflowing rivers, tidal surges, as well as dam failures and could result in severe humanitarian crises.
He expressed concern that flooding was a scourge in many communities in Nigeria and it was exacerbated by poor infrastructure, unsatisfactory enforcement of development regulations and lack of planning to protect against inundation.
He further expressed concern that this had become an annual cycle of deluge and grief.
“This year’s floods have affected 12 States and upwards of 80 local government areas have been earmarked as frontline zones, affecting 2.92 million people, over 200 people dead and displacing in excess of 1.5 million of them
“Humanitarian needs are pressing and diseases such as cholera are a major risk, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
“The Nigeria Metrological Agency (NiMet’s) 2019 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction, (SRP), indicated that so much water would pour over the banks of West Africa’s two major rivers, Niger and Benue into numerous cities and communities once it rains.”
The lawmaker said that unless adequate provision was made to accommodate the huge volume of water, especially in the areas that were contiguous to these rivers, flooding was inevitable.
He said that Bayelsa was one of the worst impacted and the floods had damaged agricultural lands, homes, power and telecommunications supplies, with no fewer than 300, 000 persons displaced and the numbers kept growing even as water levels continued to rise daily.
He expressed worry at the report that the floods had sacked 49 communities across the eight local government councils of Bayelsa.
Diri said the communities include but not limited to Sampou, Kaiama, Odi, Opokuma, Sabagreai and Igbedi in Kolokuma/Okpokuma Local Government Area, a substantial part of the state capital, Yenagoa and its environs.
“It also include Tombia, Akempai, Agudama-Ekpetiama, Akemfa; as well as Ofonibiri, Amasoma, Ekowe, Olugbobiri, Angiama, Otuan, Oporoma in Southern Ijaw Local Government; Imiringi, Ayama- Ogbia and Otuogidi in Ogbia, and Trofani, Adagbabiri, Odonni, Sagbama, Toru-Orua and Bolou-Orua in Sagbama Local Government Area.
“Tamogbene, Foutorugbene I-IV, Aleibiri, Obrigbene Ayamassa, Peretorugbene, Amanagbene and Ekeremor in Ekeremor Local Government, Egwe-ama in Brass Local Government among others.
“Also with patients removed from hospitals and residents rendered homeless, due to submerged markets, schools, hospitals, churches and farmland with crops nearing harvest.”
The lawmaker commended the resolve and exemplary leadership of Gov.Seriake Dickson for closing all schools in Bayelsa with immediate effect to enable their various managements to take the students back to their parents for safe custody.
He further appreciated the governor for converting the schools to IDPs camps and strongly supported his appeal to the Federal Government to significantly increase the level of humanitarian assistance to the state.
The lawmaker also urged that the area be declared a national disaster zone as it did on Sept. 18, 2019, in respect of Delta, Kogi, Anambra and Niger states.
He also commended the initiative of NEMA to set up a state office in Yenagoa and for the evacuation of displaced persons to the Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps.
He, therefore, urged the agency to further scale up its intervention to mitigate such terrible calamity, prevent the outbreak of epidemics and avert the collapse of social order.
The motion was unanimously adopted by members when it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara.
The House called on NEMA, the Ecological Fund and related agencies of government to invest in better drainage and improve infrastructure to aid the development of communities in coastal areas.
The House Committees on NEMA and Environment were mandated to interface with the National Emergency Management Agency, the Ecological Fund and other related MDAs to ensure that the national emergency and disaster response preparedness was sharpened.
They would ensure it aligned to international best practices and report back to the House within two weeks for further legislative action.