Following the impact of the recent flooding of communities in several states, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said the Federal Government in collaboration with state governments will work towards finding a more lasting solution to the problem across the country.
Prof. Osinbajo gave the assurance on Friday during a tour of some communities submerged by flood by flood in Bayelsa and Rivers States.
The Vice President who was flown over the affected communities in Rivers and Bayelsa, said government was more concerned about a permanent solution than one that may not necessarily be helpful to people in the affected communities in the long run.
According to him, “While the Federal Government and the State Governments work together to ensure that we dredge, to ensure that we clear the water way, and we build the canals that are necessary, direct the water from the living areas, it is important also for us who live within the environment to ensure that we don’t block the drainages, we don’t block the estuaries and we don’t block the water ways so that there will be no flooding.
“We are committed to seeing that you are appropriately and well cared for. And I am speaking to the Governor about ways and how we can support you in whatever way that is possible, it is our duty, it is the duty of government to take care of the people.
“So many have lost farmlands and means of livelihood, so we have to assist in providing some means of resettlement and that is one of the pledges that we are going to make today that we will support the State Government and will support all of you in that resettlement effort because that is also more important. You are staying here but it is more important that you are resettled properly.”
Continuing, Prof Osinbajo said the actions taken by both the Federal and State Governments were not prompted by any force, noting that “It is not a favour that we take care of the people, it is the duty of every government to take care of the people.”
“That’s why am here with the Minister of Environment and the Director General of NEMA to take a look, by ourselves, to see and to experience firsthand what is going on here so that we can understand the step of response and the quality of response that is required,” he added.
While commending the Governor and government of Bayelsa State as well as SEMA, for the prompt action and efforts at rehabilitating the people in the IDP camps across the state, Prof. Osinbajo assured that the Buhari administration as a caring government will support in whatever way to give them succour while in the camp.
According to him, “what we are trying to do is to support as much as possible with NEMA as you have heard NEMA is already here on ground and they are working very hard with the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, to ensure that we are able to give both succour and comfort as possible. And that will involve provision of food, provision of tent, provision of mosquito.”
The Vice President who said he was in the state on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, noted that the most important aspect of the management was how to resettle the people after the water recedes, adding that adequate plans must be put in place to assist the victims.
At the IDP camp at St John Catholic Church, Igbogene, Vice President Osinbajo thanked the Very Rev. Fr. Joseph Ogbelema, who is the Vicar General of the Diocese, saying, “this is a wonderful thing you have done, I think that you have shown what it is that we as Christian leaders must do, which is to take care of those who need care.”
He commended the people for their strong spirit and steadfastness, noting that despite their predicament and suffering due to the flood, they are not broken and have not given up on government.
Earlier, the Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, thanked the Vice President for finding time despite his very tight schedule to visit Bayelsa and see the condition of the IDPs and the level of devastation.
He requested that from now on any time there is flood disaster in the country the Federal Government should know that inevitably Bayelsa State is most impacted because it is seated in the Atlantic Ocean.
Aside from Igbogene and other communities in Bayelsa State, the Vice President visited IDPs in Mbiama and Akinima camps, all in Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The Vice President said, “Fortunately, NEMA has also been working very hard alongside the state SEMA and I am here not just with the Minister of Environment but also the DG of NEMA to see for ourselves and to be able to assess all of the damage and to understand the nature and enormity of this disaster so that we can react appropriately. I am glad to say to you the federal government will give all the support and the succour that is necessary to ensure not only that you are as comfortable as possible in the circumstances here but more importantly that you are resettled properly when in the next few weeks, by the Grace of God, you are able to go back home and resettle.
“That resettlement phase is very important for us because we think that is the more longer lasting of what the interventions of the federal government would be. We will be talking to the state government to see how we can effectively work with the state government to resettle all of you back in your homes and also plan for the future because we think that this cycle of flooding must not be allowed to continue.”
Accompanying the Vice President were the Minister of Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril; Director General of NEMA, Mustapha Maihaja, Senator Magnus Abe of Rivers State; Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State; former governor of the state, Chief Timipre Silva; and many other government officials.