Ijaw Elders Forum (IEF), yesterday ame hard on the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouk, for saying that Bayelsa State is not one of the 10 top states affected by flood.
The minister’s assertion followed the remark recently made by the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, that she was not humane in treating areas affected by floods in Bayelsa and other parts of the South-South.
Farouk, who recently appeared at the ministerial media briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, had listed Jigawa, Anambra and Kogi as the worst affected states based on the number of displaced persons and the total deaths recorded.
But reacting in a release issued in Lagos by its General Secretary, Mr. Efiye Bribena, the group described the statement as callous, reckless, insensitive and irresponsible.
While challenging the Humanitarian Ministry to come up with a comprehensive post-flood disaster management plan, it restated the urgent need for massive deployment of palliatives to the affected communities in the Niger Delta and other areas of the country to alleviate the suffering of the victims.
The release read in part: “The statement made by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouk, that Bayelsa State is not one of the 10 top states hit by flood without empirical data is not only careless and insensitive but also out of tune with the present reality.
“We all know that the Delta Basin is where all waters flow through from the Niger and Benue rivers to get to the Atlantic Ocean.
“Not unexpectedly, when the flood came, Bayelsa was completely submerged and cut off from the world, leaving the people with no food, medical, etc. Many victims had to take refuge in makeshift camps or sleep on the highways. We do not need to give the list of the countless people, both old and young, who died under the devastating circumstances.
“Sadly, instead of using her office to address the challenge at hand and alleviate the suffering of the victims, all the Minister could do was insult the sensibility of the people by comparing the magnitude of the damages occasioned by the flood disaster.
“Worst of all, no senior Federal Government official has visited the devastated areas except the Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Timpre Sylva, who happens to come from Bayelsa. Are we really considered part of this country?”
“For these comprehensive failings of her office, we demand she should be fired by the president. Alternatively, she should, as a matter of urgency, come up with a comprehensive plan for post-flood disaster management and how to repair the damaged infrastructure as is done in other climes.”
The group further urged the Federal Government to put the necessary measures in place to forestall the future occurrence.