Since 2018, ravaging floods have become a yearly decimal, hitting different parts of the country, destroying human lives, farmlands, crops, fisheries, poultries and other livestock worth billions of naira.
Among all the affected areas, the Niger Delta region has always been worst hit due to its costal terrain. Within the Niger Delta, Bayelsa state has borne the largest brunt of the annual flood disasters as a result of its deltaic nature. Little wonder environmental experts have often described Bayelsa as more deltaic than Delta state and more riverine than Rivers state.
Unfortunately, since the inception of Bayelsa twenty-five years ago, successive leaders of the oil rich state have made no frantic efforts to salvage the debilitating effects of the flood or bring it under control. Rather, they watch Bayelsans groan helplessly whenever the perennial flooding comes visiting.
When residents had no sooner recovered from the negative effects of one heavy flood season, another one would come, thereby exasperating their sufferings while those voted into office to provide succour for the citizenry keep playing to the gallery, complaining as though there can’t be solution to the flood palaver. They keep using inauspicious utterances such as “flood is a natural disaster and there is nothing we can do about it.”
Meanwhile, the leaders often forget that there are countries that share same or even worse terrains but are living comfortably without allowing their communities to be over flown by water under the guise of natural disaster.
For instance, the Scandinavian countries are a good example of nations that have turned their seeming natural disasters to blessings instead of a curse. Rather than keep complaining without finding lasting solutions to the problem of flooding, the Scandinavians such as Denmark, Turkey and the rest of them turned their difficult terrains to world class tourists destinations.
We, at Niger Delta Herald, make bold to state that the Bayelsa state government can do no less if they are sensitive to the plights of the people they swore on oath to protect. They should stop further complaints and swing into action, working with countries that have succeeded in similar ventures.
Indeed, the Prosperity Government of Senator Douye Diri, through the Commissioner in charge of the Ministry of Environment, Mr Iselema Gbaranbiri, should without further delay, come out with a robust plan for a shore protection project across the coastal communities in the state. All ecological funds accruing to the state should be channeled to this noble cause with all sense of prudence.
To achieve this, the state government should work in concert with the World Bank, the Multinational Oil Companies and international donor agencies in sourcing for funds. There should be no playing of politics with the funds realized for this purpose. There should be periodic clearing of all water canals especially in Yenagoa, the state capital.
Similarly, residents should desist from the habit of blocking the water passages and help the government in regularly clearing the drains to allow free flow of water.
In the meantime, the government should be more productive when such disastrous floods like the ones of 2012, 2018, 2019 and 2020 reoccur. There should be proper arrangements for the timely evacuation of flood victims to avoid casualties. Temporary camps should be prepared beforehand where internally displaced persons would be medically and economically taken care of.
By the time the floods begin to recede, the government should ensure that all affected houses are well fumigated to avoid snake and mosquito bites as well as prevent outbreak of diseases. The state government should always bear it in mind that the protection of lives and property is the primary responsibility of any responsible government.