Floods in Delta State
The Delta state government of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has shut down this year Internally Displaced person camp operated in the state by the government to cater to thousand of flood displace persons. This is because the various communities sacked by floods as a result of heavy rains are now saved and habitable and no longer posed danger to its residents.
For nearly five months after the constitution of the 2019 Flood Risk Alert Management Committee by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, the state government shouldered the responsibilities of catering for over 20, 000 displaced persons drawn from 14 Local Government Areas in the state.
Prior to the occurrence, the Commissioner, Bureau for Special Duties Hon Omamofe Pirah who served as co-chairman of the committee with Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Barr Chiedu Ebie, had embarked on a campaign to sensitize victims on why they have to appreciate alternatives offered by the government.
Eventually, the camp was shut two days ago and the once displaced persons sent packing from their camps. However, they were not abandoned nor sent out empty-handed because they were each given stipends by the government for support while they go back and continue with their lives prior to the flood.
It was a moving sight to see the displaced person y trooping out of the gates, glancing one last look with smiles at the community that had hosted them in their moments of despair. It should be placed on record that while the government is charged primarily with ensuring the security and welfare of its citizenry, the Okowa administration had proven to be responsible and responsive to the needs of Deltans.
Unfortunately, the insatiable aspect of human behavior was expressed despite the gesture. It was reported that some persons in the camps had insisted, as a matter of entitlement, that they would not vacate until they were compensated. Also, some pregnant women and nursing mothers preferred to stay back in the camps, maybe to enjoy the benefits accorded to those who had delivered in the camps in time past. Facts showed that no less than 30 deliveries were recorded within the duration of four months.
Confirming the unrest at Ahabam Camp in Asaba before its closure, an official of Delta State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mr. Popoi Itsetimehin told newsmen that the IDPs refusal to leave was premised on the excuse that the floods in their places had not receded. For one of the victims, who identified himself as Mr. Theophilus Odogwu, ‘’we are still waiting to know what the government will give to us as compensation. We have lost so much during the recent floods and so we will like the state government to support us before we go home’’. The same views were expressed by Mrs. Stella Samuel and a seven-month pregnant woman, Mrs. Chinyere Lunju.
One of the IDP Camps
However, the Director of SEMA, Mr. Karo Ovemeso said that the IDPs ought to be happy for the magnanimity of the state government. For him, ‘’the state government has been feeding them since August when the floods
started’’ adding that, the state Governor shouldered the responsibility for their welfare alone without assistance from the Federal Government or other donor agencies. As at the time of this report, he revealed that about eight camps have been closed while the rest will be shut down by Tuesday.
It is worthy to note that, at no point in time did the state government promise to ‘compensate victims’’.
In fact, the commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Chief Patrick Ukah, had once cautioned stakeholders against thwarting the good intentions of the governor, just as his colleague and Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu stressed on the need for proper information management in disaster management.
While some persons kicked for not being paid stipends, it will be recalled that Chief Ukah had harped on proper documentation of victims in order to plug loopholes. Aside from initial teething problems such as settling down in camps and minor health challenges expected from a crowded environment which was addressed immediately, the IDPs had not much to complain of during their stay away from home.