It is understandable that as one of the high risk states listed to experience looming destructive flooding this year, Rivers State was quick to identify five local governments areas, including Ahoada West, Ahoada East, Ogba/Egbama/Ndoni and Abua, among the flash points.
These localities, except Obia Akpor, were worst hit in 2012 when crushing flooding was experienced in the state.
Special Adviser to Governor Nyesom Wike on Emergency and Relief Services, Chris Berewari, while identifying the areas, said, “Entire Rivers State is a danger area, but we expect it more around Orashi areas, Ahoada, Omoku.”
The state Commissioner for Special Duties, Emeka Onowu, said, “Obia Akpor came into the envisaged flash points because of Elekha and Rukpokwu axis where we experienced flooding also last year.”
However, even before the recent warnings by relevant bodies, residents in some parts of the state have been grappling with flooding even before the rains peaked.
Worst hit are residents of Nkpolu-Rumuigbo in Obia-Akpor as well as those in Oyigbo and some quarters in NTA area. For several weeks now, Nkpolu flood has sacked several residents as water overflowed the community into East West Road, covering over a kilometer of that major road which has become impassable, disrupting business and destroying properties.
Jane Okoro, who just moved out of Nkpolu, told Sunday Vanguard, “House rent here is now cheapest in Rivers because of the flooding. Imagine sleeping and it begins to rain and you wake up scared because your house is going to be flooded.
“Since the beginning of this week, I have not sold any item because the streets are covered with flood water; customers cannot come here because the water is knee-high.
“It is really embarrassing. This is the home community for several natives. Everybody can’t run away like us who are not indigenes. Government should really help us do something about the flooding.”
Head Chief of Nkpolu-Rumuigbo, Eze Amaehula Chindah, also speaking on the situation, said, “Since the construction of the new road from the boundary of Rumuigbo to Rumuahiolu, the whole water is channeled towards the junction and it does not flow very well. The other part of the road has been occupied by some inhabitants and this does not give room for the passage of natural water.”
Without clearing the drains in Nkpolu Junction, the traditional authority noted, the people’s plight could only get worse with further flooding.
John Amadi, one of worried residents at the bank of the neighborhood canal in Rumuahiolu, said, “Last year our homes were submerged and many of us forced out of their houses. More have run away this year. The canal is a major concern. We are always apprehensive as excess water from the canal always submerges our homes.”
The situation is not different in Oyigbo where many have been sacked by the increasingly rising floods.
Special Duties Commissioner, Onowu, speaking on pre-emptive measures taken ahead of the warning by relevant agencies, said, “Governor Nyesom Wike has approved one IDP camp for Aluu in Ikwerre local government area and another in Ahoada.
“We are looking at about 67,000 persons. We did a memo to the governor which he graciously approved so we can put the camps in order, get mattresses, de-roof and reroof places needed to be fixed and immediately we will begin to evacuate people.
“The governor has warned that he doesn’t want to lose a life to the flood. Properties he noted can be lost and replace, but not life.
“We have visited these high risks localities and the respective local government chairmen have been working with us”.
On his part, Berewari said, “We are trying to educate residents of flood prone areas on how to lessen the effect in case it comes”.
South-South Zonal Director of NEMA, Dr. Martins Ejike, said the agency had put in place action plans on how to tackle the looming disaster.
Ejike, who spoke during a stakeholders’ meeting in Port Harcourt, said, “We did an appraisal of our activities. We will identify areas we have done well and areas we have not. We will identify the resources needed in our activities. Disaster is all about saving lives and all of us have what we do to that regards”.
On self inflicted internal flooding due to careless blockade of major drains and construction on natural drain channels, Prof Rosaline Konya, Rivers State Commissioner for Environment, urged residents to desist from such habits.
Meanwhile, an environmental activist, Meshack Oyi, says Rivers State is not among the states to benefit from the Federal Government N3billion intervention fund on flooding.
The Nigerian Hydrological Service Agency had, in its May Annual Flood Outlook for 2018, allegedly excluded Rivers from the states to be affected by flooding, but the environmental activist maintained that communities in Orashi region of the state are experiencing river flooding and not coastal flooding predicted by the hydrological agency.
He said, “The fund released would not be used to help ameliorate the suffering of people affected in Rivers. I am calling on them to please look at their prediction again to understand that the river flooding they predicted is also affecting Rivers among other states they listed.
“Orashi is a major tributary to the River Niger and the river has overflowed its banks, Orashi has overflowed its banks, hence the flooding of some the communities along the Orashi River. If it continues like this, we could get to the 2012 impact.”
2023: CAN Pushes For Christian President, Self-Defence
The Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN) has said that the next President should be a Christian to ensure balance in leadership.
YOWICAN also said rotation of the office of the President will promote equity, unity and peace.
The youths further protested the activities of bandits and kidnappers, threatening to resort to self-defence if nothing is urgently done by the government.
They warned bandits and kidnappers to desist from perpetrating evil and put a stop to the ongoing kidnappings and killings.
The Christian association also pledged collaboration with Muslims and Nigeria Inter-religious Council (NIREC) towards peace building.
These were contained in a communiqué at the end of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of YOWICAN and read by its National President, Belusochukwu Enwere.
Enwere said, “The next President should come 2023 should be a Christian because the present administration, the president is a Muslim and so the President should rotate amongst the Christians and Muslims so that there will be balance in the leadership of Nigeria.
“We have competent Christian leaders who can represent and manage the affairs of this country. We urge our leaders to fully participate in politics so that we can produce a good president for Nigeria.
“As such the emergence of a Christian and youthful President come 2023 will be a true expression of equity, fairness and justice for Nigeria and Nigerians.
“That YOWICAN shall continue to collaborate and work in concert with brothers from the Muslim faith to pursue the desired peace, unity and progress of the nation; and more particularly under the auspices of the Nigeria Inter-religious Council (NIREC),” the group said.
“YOWICAN decries the increasing rate of insecurity in Nigeria, yet commends the efforts of government and security agencies in combating the nefarious activities of bandits, killer herdsmen, insurgents etc.
“YOWICAN in the performance of Christian tenets and faith believes strongly in peaceful coexistence, but this piety should not be construed as cowardice, therefore kidnappers, bandits, killer herdsmen, terrorists and unknown gun men should not push Christian youths to the extreme, such as to make them consider deploying self defence strategies as the last option,” Enwere said.
According to him, despite the efforts so far made in combating crime, YOWICAN observes the urgent need to curb the rising wave of attacks, killings, destruction of lives, properties, farmlands and livelihood of innocent citizens within the Northern states, and specifically within Christian communities in Southern Kaduna.
The CAN youths demanded the immediate release of all abductees and particularly the students of the Bethel Baptist High School, Kaduna State, who have been in captivity.
The NEC meeting held at the National Christian Centre on Saturday was attended by National Executive Members, Zonal Leaders, State Leaders (drawn from the 36 States of the Federation plus the FCT) and representatives from the Blocs/denominations under CAN.
Clamping Down On Agitators Can Fuel National Crisis -OPC
The Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) has advised the Federal Government against clamping down on agitators for self-determination, warning that such could lead to a national crisis.
OPC said this in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Barrister Yinka Oguntimehin, weeks after the raid on the residence of Yoruba rights activist, Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho, by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS), during which two persons were killed.
The statement also followed Igboho’s arrest in the Republic of Benin after he was declared wanted by the DSS.
In the statement, the group “flayed Federal Government’s approach in Igboho’s ordeals, maintaining that the use and application of force on self-determination agitators has only justified Federal Government’s lack of respect for human rights and intolerance to the views of others.”
The group described the “treatment meted out to Igboho in Nigeria and also in Cotonou as very unpleasant, insisting that Federal Government ought to know that the citizens have rights and that such rights must be protected under the law.”
Oguntimehin said, “Unfolding events have shown that there are lapses in the way the Federal Government handles cases of self-determination agitators like Sunday Igboho, and I will like to state it clearly that the Federal Government must desist from clamping down on self-determination agitators because such move can only fuel national crisis.”
The publicity secretary urged the Republic of Benin to be fair with Igboho as he revealed that the rights activist will be facing immigration-related offences in the country, adding that he can also seek asylum to ensure his safety.
He warned against having Igboho brought back to Nigeria the way the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, was brought back from Kenya.
He said, “The Federal Government has been silent on the extradition order because it might trigger more crisis. You cannot treat Igboho the Nnamdi Kanu way, it would not work, so I am appealing to the Federal Government to learn from history and ensure that the fundamental human rights of the citizens are protected in such a way that we can begin to appreciate the fact that we truly follow the tenets of democracy.”
The statement said Nigeria and the Republic of Benin have no extradition agreement, adding that Nigeria has not been able to come up with charges that could lead the court to order Igboho’s extradition to Nigeria.
Oguntimehin said, “What Federal Government came up with were mere allegations against Ighoho such as trafficking in arms and inciting violence that could result in the social disturbance without evidence and the Government of Benin Republic had considered all that to be untenable and insufficient to warrant extradition.
“The case has been adjourned till Monday, July 26 to allow the Federal Government bring up whatever evidence they may have, and Mr. lgboho has been taken back to the police custody.”
He pointed out that the rights activist had been peaceful with his agitation, as he urged traditional leaders not to ignore him at his trying time.
Nasarawa Monarchs Console Odili Over Brother’s Death
The Nasarawa State Council of Traditional Rulers has commiserated with former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili over the death of his elder brother, Chief Fidelis Obi Odili.
The Chairman, Nasarawa State Council of Traditional Rulers and Emir of Lafia, Hon. Justice Sidi Bage Muhammad 1 (rtd), said monarchs and people of his state were saddened by the bereavement of the Odili family.
The Emir, who was accompanied by the Andoma of Domia, Alhaji Ahmaou Aliyu; and the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Rivers State, Engineer Emeka Woke, stated this during a condolence visit to Odili in Port Harcourt, last Friday.
He described Odili as a very generous, hospitable personality and one of the best leaders that Nigeria has produced.
To this end, he declared that whatever affects him (Odili), affects people all over the country.
“We have come here to commiserate with you, to pass our condolences to you on behalf of all of our people, the people of Nasarawa State and our respective kingdoms.
“As one of the elders of this nation, very respectful elder of this nation, anything that affects you, will touch us, will affect us. We ask you to take heart.”
He further added, “You’re one of the best we have in this country. You’re very generous, hospitable. Your Excellency, not because you’re here, this is a statement of fact. You’re one of the best that this country has produced.”
The Emir of Lafia, prayed God to grant the Odili’s family the fortitude to bear the loss of their beloved one.
He also urged God to continue to keep Odili in good health so that he’ll continue all the good works that he has been doing and will continue to do for the nation.
“On behalf of all the chiefs that are not here, we commiserate with you”, he said.
Responding, the former Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, said he felt honoured by the condolence visit and words of encouragement by the Emir of Lafia.
“I can’t find words appropriate to thank you for this consoling honour.”
Odili said he felt elated by the kind gesture of the Emir of Lafia.
According to him, the visit has further demonstrated the importance the Emir attaches to his relationship with the people of Rivers State.
“You’ve come with your colleague to pay this condolence visit, which was totally unplanned and unscheduled. But, like they say, people make out time for what they consider important.
“We feel honoured by your gesture, and so, we want to thank you and your colleague for this rare honour and for your kind words. Your friendship with our state goes back in history.
“Your new position in Nasarawa State has not altered it, rather it has strengthened it”, Odili added.
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