The devastating flood that recently effected no fewer than 31 states in the nation has served the people of Azikoro town in Bayelsa State and the world a horrifying photographic menu of scores of corpses from submerged cemeteries floating on streets in the state capital, causing tales of shock, fear, and tears.
Families whose loved ones were buried at the affected cemeteries have continued to swarm the different streets in the state capital out of curiosity to see the decomposing dead bodies dragged from their supposed place of perfect rest despite the stench, while many communities and journalists have continued to visit the scene of horror to bear witness to the tragedy.
With millions of people displaced and over 600 reported fatalities from the country’s disastrous flooding, which many have called the worst in a decade, the country has undoubtedly been crippled. Due to the failure of the government at all levels to take preventive measures, lives and property across the nation, particularly in coastal states like Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, and many other states, have been seriously threatened. This is especially true for the coastal states of Bayelsa, Delta, and many others.
For example, the disaster has cut off Bayelsa State from its neighbouring states, destroyed thousands of hectares of farmland, and increased concerns about a disruption in the state’s and the country’s food supply.
To the people of Azikoro town and residents of Aeroplane road in Yenagoa, where the major cemetery is located, the gory sight of corpses on the streets remains a nightmare only akin to what they experienced in the Nigeria’s civil war when people could wake up early in the morning only to find large number of dead bodies after an encounter between the Nigerian and Biafran soldiers.
One may be forced to conclude that the devastating flood descended more on Bayelsa State as it sacked no fewer than 300 communities, submerged houses, major roads, bridges, educational institutions, hospitals, banks, and killed several persons including teenagers.
Even the country home of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was not spared as major parts of his community, Otuoke in Ogbia local government area is said to be the most affected by flood disasters.
When journalists visited some affected communities, demoralized and confused looking residents were seen using canoes to access their homes following the overflow of River Orashi, Taylor and Epie creeks, situated in Rivers and Bayelsa States, respectively.
A resident of the community, Mr Emmanuel Akagbe who lamented that the floating corpses had become a recurring development during flood added that relocation of the cemetery is long overdue. He alleged that corpses at the cemetery were often buried in shallow graves of about 3 feet, rather than the recommended six feet prescribed by law.The morgue at Bomadi General Hospital and Olodiama were not spared either.
Reacting to the ugly development, the state commissioner for Environment and chairman of Bayelsa Flood Committee, Iselema Gbaranbiri, confirmed that three floating corpses were recovered and reburied with the environment properly fumigated.
No doubt, the restrictions of inter-state movement of goods and services by the ravaging flood across Nigeria led to sudden hike in prices of staple food and petroleum products in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital. The affected items are sachet water which residents depend on due to absence of potable water, grains and food condiments, among others.
When this reported embarked on a market survey in some parts of the state, it was discovered that the residents are battling over 100 per cent increase in the prices of garri, yam, tomatoes and other food items.
At the popular Swali and Tombia market, it was learnt that a four-litre plastic container measure of garri which initially sold for N1,000 before the flood in Yenagoa, now sells for N2,000 while a four-litre plastic container measure of rice which sold for N2,200, now sells for N4,000. Five balls of tomatoes have also risen from N200 to N700 and a bulb of onion that used to sell for N20 now sells for N100.
Sadly, the East-West road connecting over six states in the Niger Delta had been submerged with many passengers stranded on the highway, just as many communities in Bayelsa. The road leading to the two universities, the African University, Torouwa and the Federal University, Otouke was cut off from the main road. Also the road leading to the state-owned university, the Niger Delta University (NDU) and the state-owned international Airport also cut off, just as the University Teaching Hospital at Okolobiri, had been shut down.
The situation, Journalists report that this unplanned situation also led to the hike in price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in Yenagoa, a development which has further caused transportation fare to skyrocket.
A resident, Ekenwa Samuel lamented that tricycles now charge N200 for a distance that used to cost N50, while a litre of PMS now sells for N800.
Worried by the overwhelming impact the flooding has posed on Bayelsans’, the state governor, Senator Douye Diri, urged the federal government to declare a national emergency on the rampaging flood that had devastated lives and properties in the state and others in the country.
Governor Diri has however, taken steps to halt the harsh economic trend in the state as held separate meetings with the state chapters of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Petroleum Owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN), and market union leaders, in Government House, Yenagoa, recently
Diri, in a statement by his chief press secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, announced the setting up of two committees comprising government officials, marketers and traders respectively.
He said the meetings were convened to address the arbitrary increase in the price of petroleum products and goods in the state and cautioned against plunging the state into another crisis while it is grappling with the flooding challenges.
He explained that the petroleum committee was to seek all means to make petroleum products, including cooking gas, available either by road or through the state’s maritime domain.
According to him, the government would bear the cost of security and transportation of the product in barges while the marketers will pay for the product.
Meanwhile, former governor of Bayelsa State and Senator representing Bayelsa West, Henry Seriake Dickson and his friends have raised N21 Million to support families ravaged by the current flood waves in the state
Data from the government shows that this year’s floods are the country’s worst in a decade. They’ve killed more than 600 people, displaced 1.4 million residents and destroyed 89,348 houses and 70,566 hectares of farmland and crops in states like Bayelsa, Anambra, Delta, Rivers, Cross River, Adamawa, Gombe, Jigawa, parts of Kaduna, Kogi, Niger, Benue and Nasarawa.
While Senator Dickson donated over N15 million, his friends raised N11 million to support the flood victims under the platform of Friends of Senator Dickson.
Senator Dickson, who conveyed his appreciation to the benevolent donors most of whom prefer to be anonymous, also expressed the gratitude of the beneficiaries. He reiterated his appeal to public spirited individuals, NGOs, corporations, to come to the rescue of displaced and suffering flood victims.
Dickson said in a statement on Friday that he appreciated the Initiative of his friends who came together to start this humanitarian drive.
According to him, a special account for the foundation has been opened into which the donations from his friend are domiciled and into which further donations can be made. Dickson also reiterated the policy of the foundation to record and publish the list of all donors as well as the beneficiaries for purposes of transparency.
However, he said that where there are requests for anonymity, the foundation will have no option than to respect their preference.
He added that donation is not only in cash but also in kind as the foundation would make arrangements to receive all such donations in kind such as relief materials of every description.
He said, “Following the announcement of my donation to flood victims in Bayelsa State, some of my friends called to support and as of now they have raised eleven million naira. A number of them preferred to be anonymous. However, we will send a letter from the foundation to express my gratitude and that of our people to them.”
Dickson had made donations running into millions of naira to alleviate the plight of flood victims in Bayelsa State.
The Senator announced a donation of N400,000 naira to each of the wards in the Sagbama Ekeremor Senatorial District on Wednesday in Abuja.
Dickson, a former two-term governor of the state also announced a donation of N5 million to those affected by the flood in Yenagoa, the state capital.