Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri has urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to correct what he characterised as a ‘misconception’ that only three Local Government Areas in the State experience seasonal flooding.
Governor Diri, in a message to officials of the Agency who paid him a courtesy visit in Government House, Yenagoa, declared the entire state to be flood-prone.
The Governor, represented by his Deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, stressed that Bayelsa occupies the lowest part of the country where all the waters from River Niger and River Benue pass through to empty themselves into the Atlantic Ocean.
Consequently, he said the whole of the State experiences flooding and its devastating effects every year, pointing out that it was inaccurate for NEMA to single out Ogbia, Nembe and Brass as the only flood-affected areas.
According to the Governor, most parts of the three localities captured in NEMA’s document have brackish waters and, therefore, suffer less flooding than other Local Government Areas.
He listed the most impacted areas to include Ekeremor, Southern Ijaw, Sagbama, Kolokuma/Opokuma and Yenagoa, where communities are flooded each year.
While assuring NEMA of the State Government’s readiness to support it carry out an objective assessment of environmental challenges facing the State, Governor Diri reiterated his call on the Federal Government to pay more attention to the development of Bayelsa.
‘I thank you for this visit. But let me use this opportunity to correct the misconception that only three Local Government Areas experience flooding in Bayelsa,’ the Deputy Governor stated on behalf of the Governor.
‘You specifically mentioned Nembe, Ogbia and Nembe. But that is not the true position. These places particularly in Nembe and Brass have brackish water. So, flood threat is not as high as the freshwater areas.
‘On the converse, parts of Southern Ijaw that do not have brackish water, Ekeremor, Sagbama, Kolokuma/Opokuma and Yenagoa are the areas that usually have high probable flooding.
‘So, the truth is that the whole of Bayelsa is flood-prone and must be treated as such. I can tell you that even this Government House is under threat. If not that we have done a semi dyke, you would have seen the water very close by now.’
In his remarks, a Senior Relief Officer, Mr Ifeanyi Omeje, who represented the Head of Operation, Edo State Operation Office of NEMA, Mr Dahiru Yusuf, said the team was in the State to carry out on-the-spot assessment of possible areas of flooding in line with the predictions of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NIMET.
He called on people of the State to be proactive by observing flood warnings as well as relocating from flood-prone areas.
‘My office has already written a letter to the State Government pointing out the areas that will have the impact of flood this year. So our reason for being in the State is to take an on the spot assessment of the impact of flood in Bayelsa State.’