Former commissioner, Mr. Austin Tam-George, is at it again. In his comments about flooding, a natural disaster ravaging the entire country, he tried to insult Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, as it concerns the state.
He described the request by Governor Wike for collaboration with European Union ambassadors to improve on the sanitation process of Rivers State as scandalous. It is obvious he is crying wolf where there is none, which shows that he does not understand the technicalities involved in keeping Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s second most important city, neat.
Governor Wike has taken measures to keep Rivers clean. He met with all sanitation service providers in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor local government areas, wherein they worked out further strategies to clean up the city. If Tam-George has been visiting Port Harcourt lately, he would have noticed the improvements in the sanitation situation of the city. The improvement will continue.
On flooding, which the former commissioner talked ignorantly about, it must be stated that the Rivers State government, on August 15, 2019, took very concrete steps to mitigate the impact of this natural disaster in some parts of the state. The state government met with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), all the local government councils and permanent secretaries of focal ministries to tackle flooding, and key security agencies for rapid response.
Governor Wike had put in place the Rivers State Government’s Emergency Response Arrangement, in response to NEMA’s prediction of flood around the state. In concrete terms, the Wike administration ignited the flood response system in Degema, Onelga, Obio/Akpor, Abua/Odua, Ahoada East, Ahoada West, Akuku Toru, Gokana, Opopo, Port Harcourt City, Bonny, Gokanna, Oyigbo and Etche local government areas. Other ocal LGAs will also receive due attention from the Rivers State government.
The Rivers State government, at the last consultative meeting with stakeholders, declared that early proactive measures were necessary to minimise emergency situations from the flooding. The state government stated that it would work with the councils to ensure that residents of flood-prone areas are evacuated before the flood takes its toll. The relevant ministries, Environment, Health, Special Duties, Information, and Office of the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, have been programmed and mandated by the governor to work with the affected local government areas to tackle the predicted flood and mitigate the impact on Rivers people.
The state government also worked with the local government councils to create local emergency management committee structures. NEMA was represented at the meeting convened by the Rivers State government. The NEMA representative, Mr. Egwu Damian, assured the state government of information sharing. He said the reason for the recurring flooding in the state was due to its location by the bank of the Atlantic Ocean.
Contrary to what the former information commissioner said, the Rivers State government, last year, worked with the local government areas in the Orashi Region to set up internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camps. The IDPs were cared for in the camps.
The state government and the respective councils embarked on sustained enlightenment programmes. The Rivers State government and other key stakeholders supplied relief materials to the displaced persons. Towards the end, NEMA, after engagements with the state government, also supplied relief materials.
Floods should not be used to seek attention. Tam-George and his new political party should look for ways to resolve their internal crises ahead of the 2023 general election, instead of clutching at straw.
•Nwakaudu writes from Port Harcourt