Flood Victims Are Hungry, They Need Foodstuffs, Not Soaps, Bayelsa Tells FG

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Google picture of Bayelsa flood victims

The Bayelsa State government has reacted to reports that the state received food items as flood relief materials from the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

It insisted that NEMA did not supply food items for the flood victims in Bayelsa, stressing that the federal agency only brought non-food items to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the state.

Dismissing the reports in Yenagoa, the chairman of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Walamam Igrubia, described the federal ministry’s claims as misleading.

Igrubia, who is a member of the State Flood Mitigation and Management Task Force, explained that the relief materials so far received from NEMA as of Thursday, October 27, 2022, were non-food items such as mosquito nets, bathing soaps and clothing materials.

He berated NEMA for considering non-food and non-medicine items as a priority in a crisis situation where the IDPs were in short supply of essential food items due to the flood disaster that had cut off the East-West Road and rendered Bayelsa inaccessible by road.

While expressing concern over the claims, he said the non-food items were airlifted to Bayelsa several days after the Minister in charge of the ministry, Sadiya Umar Farouq, had boasted at a press conference that the state was among 21 flood-ravaged states the Federal Government had distributed relief materials to suffering flood victims.

The SEMA boss said, “We have waited for this long and now, NEMA brought in bathing soaps, malaria-treated nets, clothing materials and wear. But this is an emergency situation.

“The most paramount thing to us now is food. It is only when a man has eaten he can think of what to wear. This is so because of our difficult situation of road inaccessibility from both Warri and Port Harcourt ends.

“The number of relief materials received from the Federal Government is 598 cartons of bathing soaps, 15 bags of mosquito nets, 41 bales of Guinea brocade. Others include four bags of men’s wear, five bags of women’s wear and two bags of children’s wear.

“How can a disaster management agency think soap is more important than food in this terrible situation? What we need now is food. People are hungry. NEMA should supply food, not non-food items as relief materials.

Igrubia insisted that the state government was not pleased with the way the federal agencies were approaching and managing the humanitarian crisis in Bayelsa.

He emphasised that no food items had been received from NEMA, and urged the Federal Government to do the right thing by sending foodstuffs through the waterways or by air to avert a looming food crisis

The SEMA chairman, however, stated that the Governor Douye Diri-led administration in collaboration with the Nigerian Air Force had procured food and other succour, which had been airlifted to the state and also through the waterways.

Igrubia also said that the state government was in charge of the welfare of the IDPs and ensuring that food was made available for affected residents.

He added that the Diri administration had been interfacing with traders and oil marketers to reduce the price of commodities and ensure the availability of petroleum products in the state.

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