Yenagoa—The Bayelsa State government has said it spent over N1.03 billion within two weeks of the flood incident in the state.
Daniel Alabrah, the Chief Press Secretary to the Bayelsa State Governor spoke on behalf of the governor on the state of affairs in the state’s internally displaced persons (IDP) camps.
He said, “A task force, led by the Commissioner for Environment (Iselema Gbaranbiri) was inaugurated and swiftly swung into action. It was tasked with finding camps for victims (IDPs).
“We have four camps in Yenagoa and other places, while other people opted to remain in their communities. But because of the magnitude of the flood, every community affected had IDP camps. The task force went around and located those displaced and provided them with food and medical supplies.
“Initially, the governor approved N450 million for food items. Another N450 million was approved because the first money was not enough. A further N130 million was approved for initial supplies of pharmaceuticals. So, N1.03 billion was released within two weeks of the flood hitting Bayelsa.
“The governor has been going round, and everywhere he goes, he investigates the distribution of items. In places yet to be supplied, he finds out why and addresses the challenges.
“In all the places he gave out money ranging from N1 – 5m, depending on the number of displaced persons. The money is to provide other items not contained in the materials sent to them.”
Alabrah while narrating that the state government airlifted food items from northern states due to the destruction of the East-west road by the flood, he maintained that the state did not get help from the federal government contrary to the claims of the humanitarian minister.
“The state government went further to procure food items and airlifted them using the Nigerian Air Force jets. This is because, at this time, we have been cut off by land, either through the Rivers or the Delta states’ axis. There was no entry or exit.
“We procured food items from Abuja and Yola and used Air Force jets to airlift them to PHC Airport, from where it was hauled by helicopters to Yenagoa.
“That happened initially because although our airport was intact, the road to the airport was cut off. It has been fixed now.
“This created erroneous impressions that the FG was assisting us with food, supplies, and aid. This was what the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs claimed was the FG’s assistance to Bayelsa State. This is not correct, and the record has to be put straight.
“When NEMA came, we were surprised that only non-food materials were sent to us. They sent mosquito nets, and guinea brocades and they said the food items were coming.
“What it means is that everything that has been done as relief items in Bayelsa State is either procured by the state government or brought in by individuals and corporate organisations.
On how the state government tackled petrol and food price hike, he said, “When there was public outcry over the prices of petrol and food because of the roads that are cut off, the government acted by calling petroleum marketers and market leaders to a meeting.
“He pleaded with them to be considerate of the plight of the people because they did not have new stocks; they were selling old stocks and taking advantage of the situation to make abnormal profits.
“Petrol was selling for as high as N800/litre at the black market because petrol stations were no longer selling.
“The state procured fuel and also created a committee to get petrol by barges. As we speak, 450,000 litres of petrol have landed in Bayelsa and are being distributed to the service stations to avert the crisis.
“For the food, a committee was set up to regulate price. We are making plans to bring in food items through the river to crash prices.”
Speaking on the discrepancies between the Federal Government’s data on damages of the flood and that of Bayelsa, Alabrah said, “We do not know about the FG’s data. The only thing they told us was that Jigawa State is more impacted than Bayelsa.
“It is strange how they got their data because since the flood started, we have not seen official delegations from ministries of internal affairs, environment, water resources, or anybody.
“The President, his deputy, or any high-ranking official has not visited. You cannot sit in Abuja and generate data, for us we can rely on what we saw. They said we had 58 deaths when we know that it is 96.
The governor’s aide however noted that the government has set up a post-flood committee, which he said is headed by the Deputy Governor, Ewhrudjakpo Lawrence Oborawharievwo.
According to him, the committee will carry out assessments of the devastation in all the communities and LGAs, and then make recommendations based on their findings.
He added that this will provide data for future planning and mitigation.