No less than two million residents of communities in Ahoada East Local Government Area of Rivers State were displaced by flood, making life brutish and nasty for them. Their days of worries are ending, writes ROSEMARY NWISI, Port Harcourt 

Flood victims in the six Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Ekpeye land of Ahoada East Local Government Area of Rivers State can now heave a sigh of relief from hunger and starvation following the Intervention of the Niger Delta Petroleum Resources (NDPR).

No fewer than 26 communities were affected by the flood, with over a million residents displaced and chased into IDP camps in the area.

Ekpeye Kingdom is located along the coastal line of river Niger. It is rich in oil and gas and made up of two local government councils, Ahoada East and Ahoada West.

All was well with them until the 2012 flood event which took over homes, villages, communities and all their farmlands with their economic plants and trees, and even killing some of them, leaving the survivors with no option than to flee their homes to IDP camps.

Since then, flood disaster has continued to ravage the area every rainy reason with their homes and farms getting flooded making them to always turn back to the camps for safety.

When the flood occurred in 2012, inmates of the camps were cared for by the government which released huge sum to cater to their needs. People of goodwill, companies, groups and individuals both locally and internationally, came to their aid. Churches were not also left out of the list.

However, things are now different; hardship abounds, most of the companies have shut down. Yet the Nigerian Metrological Agency (NIMET) continues to predict the flooding of the areas.

This year again, NIMET listed the two local government areas among the high-risk group. The flood came and as usual, overran the communities forcing them back to the camps. Unfortunately, help was short in coming, leaving the affected communities to shoulder the heavy weight of feeding and providing the other needs of people in camps.

The Regent of Ekpeye Kingdom, King Felix Otuwarikpo, (Eze Ekpeye Logbo III), got the members of flood victims committee he formed to approach the NDPR, an indigenous oil company in the area, to seek help for the hungry but handicapped IDPs.

NDPR Head, Community Relations and Security, Alhaji Bubah Mauzu, on Tuesday, presented relief materials worth several millions of Naira to the IDPs.

The materials were delivered to the people through King Otuwarikpo and members of his council of chiefs. At the ceremony were the representatives of the women and the chairman, Ekpeye Flood Victims Committee, Mr. ThankGod Okedike.

Mauzu said: “In response to the letter we received some time ago from this respected council of Chiefs in respect of those in IDP camps, we have come to present these to you for onward delivery to them.

“This is what we can afford for now, no matter how small it is, accepts it from us as it is from the depth of our hearts.

“We have brought here 100 pieces of mattresses, 100 pillows, 100 cartons of Indomie, 100 bags of 50 kg size of rice, 10 cartons of milo, 10 cartons of Peak milk, 100 pieces of sleeping blankets and three bags of granulated sugar (150 kg).”

The monarch thanked the company for what he called timely intervention to the pressing need of the Kingdom, regretting that the governments, federal, state and local government deliberately abandoned the area in the face of such daunting challenge. He assured the company that the gesture would remain memorable in their hearts.

He said: “We sincerely thank NDPR for making available these materials for the suffering flood displaces people of Ekpeye Kingdom who are currently in various IDP camps within our area.

“You have saved our land from these troubles, with these kind and free-will donations you have demonstrated that you are with us in thick and in thin. We are happy and gladly accept and appreciate these gifts and assure you that they will be delivered to the people for which they are meant for.

“You were not the only company operating and doing business in this letter locality. We reached out to every firm in Ekpeyeland to solicit the assistance for this need, while others are still yet to decide, you responded as soon as you got our appeal letter, we are grateful, you have contributed to saving the lives of our people from dying of hunger and starvation.

“We want to commend this singular act by the management of NDPR to have committed so much resource to attend to the needs of our people, we thank you. We want to assure you of our continuous good relationship.

“Our late father (late Eze Robinson O. Robinson), had a smooth relationship with the company, we shall consolidate on that relationship. You have demonstrated that inspire passing unto glory of our father that you still have lived for the children, we thank you for the gesture and assure you of our supports in whatever area you want Ekpeye people to support you, you need us and we also need you to survive.”

Eze Ekpeye Logbo expressed disappointment on the alleged failure of the governments to provide relief materials for Ekpeye flood victims in IDP camps, stressing that they are suffering and badly ravaged by hunger and hardship, with the children going malnourished as a result of lack of care.

He said: “Government at all levels should recognise the fact that Ekpeye is part and parcel of this country called Nigeria.

“Ekpeye is not outside Nigeria, there is no reason if Ekpeye is affected by natural disaster or any form of disaster and government at all levels shy away from attending to the needs of Ekpeye people.

“We count, only when they need our votes, we are only recognised when they want to use us to achieve their personals interests, now that our people are suffering. Nobody cares for any Ekpeye person, the time has come for governments at all levels to rethink about Ekpeye nation.

“If we mobilise our people adequately, they will realise that nobody can effectively win and election in Rivers State without the votes of the people of Ekpeye nation.”

He urged the flood victims committee to ensure the materials among the victims with utmost transparency, adding: “under no circumstance should you allow anybody including me to influence you to do things that are accepted by Ekpeye people.”

He added: “Discharge this duty with the utmost sense of responsibility. Our people are suffering in various IDP camps, these materials are essential for those in the IDP camps, they are not for members of Eze Ekpeye Lobo in Council, they are not for members of Ekpeye traditional rulers and chiefs, they are not for any Ekpeye person other than the IDPs, so ensure that you carry everything that has been supplied today, to the IDP camps.”

He noted that 26 communities were affected in the areas, with most of them completely overrun by the disaster with their houses flooded and farmlands submerged.

“There are six IDP camps scattered across Ekpeye Nation, each of them hosting no fewer than 300 persons, including women and children.

“Twenty-six communities were submerged, people’s homes, houses, farmlands among others were completely flooded, members of the affected communities have been in the camp for almost four months now, there has not been any form of intervention from any quarter whatsoever government at all levels have abandoned us, including the National Emergency Management Agency(NEMA), who sent the early warning and prediction of flooding this year, everybody, including the state and Local Governments are pretending not to know what is happening, even after several correspondences and appeals have been made to them.

“This singular act by NDPR to our people is one in a million, we will never forget it, they may not know what they have done to our people. Members of my council and I have not had good sleep since the event of the flood b cause our people are gingery and sleepless, it has not been easy for us you will not understand.”

The women lauded the company for the show of love and appealed to its management to answer them again whenever the need arises.

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