Imo: NEMA Solicits For Government And Agencies Intervention For 15 Communities Hit By Flood

By Elizabeth Chukwuma

 Dakuku Peterside, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA,  has  a big task at hand: to come to the aid the of the Imo state government to  settle the victims of the flood affected   15 Communities in Ohaji /Egbema and Oguta local government areas of the state. The flood disaster  , according  to Walter Duru, the Media Aide to Gerald Irona,  the state Deputy governor had  submerged over 70 houses and rendered over 2,000 people homeless. 

The agency under the close watch of  Peterside  in the last two years  have been involved in providing relief materials ranging from food stuffs, clothing and other items to  support the flood victims  across the states of the Fedeation  and to further give people  hope that the Administration President  Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All progressive Congress, APC,  cares for them.

 It is not surprising why  people  are calling on the  Peterside led Agency which have been identified  as flood victims  across the country    to act  fast now that the Imo state flood incident   is still very fresh  as  Evans Ugoh, the Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, may not be able to handle the situation alone because of their lean final allocation. 

The case of the Imo flood victims may have been worse as  the  state government is financially incapacitated to undertake such an extra expenditure of immediate relief materials  to the people  because of the competing needs in the state seeking for budgetary allocation.

 The Value News findings show that  the flood disaster become  noticeable  state  any year there is   heavy rain  in Oguta ,1 and 2, Ezi Orsu, Orsu Obodo, Abor  in Oguta local government Area of the state. This is in addition to Mmahu, the Ohaji /Egbema local government Area  Headquarters  where Shell Petroleum Development , Company , SPDC, has its Camp and Operational base in the state.

Mustapha Maihaja : Director General NEMA

 The other affected Communities which are in Ohaji/Egbama Local government Area of the state include Mmahu, the local government Headquarter where Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPD C, the only Oil Producing Company operating in the state has a Camp for Staff,Obiakpu, the home town of Mike Okiro, a former Inspector General of Police, Etekwuru, Umorji and Abacheke , among others.

Environmental analysts believe  that the problem could have been avoided if NEMA officials in the state have been alive to their duties  to take all the precautionary measures having known that  the Communities  experience flood  any year  the country experience heavy rain  that overflows the bank of the river Niger.

 But the  Agency  which is saddled with the responsibility of managing disaster victims in the country  may have learnt  its lesson from the 15 Imo Communities experience  as it was said to have embarked on an assessment  on the incident ,ostensibly to  devise strategies to stop a future occurrence.  Note that the 15 flood  affected  Communities in Imo state may have experienced  the problem   because  of their location at the bank of the river Niger.   

Recall that  last year, Mustapha  Maihaja, Director General, NEMA, had declared  the flooding in four states as Natural disasters. They are Kogi, Niger, Anambra and Delta states.  Even eight other states that were said to have been placed on the watch list by the Agency, Imo state, according to  sources  was not  part of it. It is not therefore not very surprising why people  were touched  when  the recent  flood disaster  incident  occurred in the two local government areas of the state where the people are basically  farmers . 

Ugoh, the NEMA Coordinator in the state may have known that  with the submerging of farms in the 15 Comunities affected by the flood disaster, the  people would experience hunger that he had had called the state and the Federal government to quickly intervene to provide immediate rehabilitation materials  to avoid the situation from degenerating.  

The flood disaster situation in the 15 Imo Communities may have been so bad that Uju Kingsley, the lawmaker representing the  two local governments in the House of Representatives  that he has given his words to those that cares to listen that he would take up the matter in the House  to draw the attention  of the leadership to the problem  in order to declare it as a flood disaster state  to attract  government  support.

Note that the 15 Communities  where there flood disaster had occurred  are used by SPC for their oil exploration  and production which had put the state on   list of oil producing states  like Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers , Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ondo, Edo and Abia states.

Investigation shows that most people from the Communities, particular, the elites and the  Chiefs  from the Communities have taken advantage of the disaster to pile pressure on the  Shell to come to the aid of the people.  Some of their  were said to have gone out of their way to solicit for contracts to clear the flood in the Communities  and the farms.   It was gathered the case s that could not be handled by the Company officials at Owerri, the state Capital , have been referred to Port Harcourt,  Rivers state, the Headquarter of the  Company Eastern Operational base for final approval.   A resident of Etekuru, one of the affected Communities disclosed that the Company  would  be ready to support the Communities to avoid  giving room to Youths  to block their oil locations which might affect their production level in the state.  Insiders informed the Magazine that the Company officials are also making assessment of the situation to see where the come in to ameliorate the situation.

 There are fears  being  expressed in unofficial circles that the Imo state government may  want to  abdicate its responsibility of providing  immediate rehabilitation to support the flood victims of the15   Communities  to SPDC , alone, because of their oil drilling activities in the area.  These had been the trend , over the years, where past governors of the state  had shifted the responsibility to the Company, thus putting extra –financial burden  on its Corporate Social Responsibility of the Company.

 But Emeka  Ikedioha , a for Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives and now governor of the state, appear   determined to make the difference  as he was said to have promised to  rehabilitate the people to cushion the effect of the flood on the them.  That much was said to Duru, the Media Aide to the state Deputy governor. He may have gladdened  the heart of the victims when he said that the  Ihedioha Administration has taken steps to assist the Communities and others affected by the flood. The  governor  was said to have sent top government functionaries  to the affected Communities to see things for themselves and report back to him  for the government to take the necessary  action to support the victims.

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