Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, was in Bayelsa State, on Tuesday, October 25, 2022, to visit Governor Duoye Diri and sympathise with the flood victims in the State.
The former Vice President who expressed his concern at the level of devastation caused by the flood, donated the sum of N50 Million Naira to help cushion the effect of the flood and made a generous offer of scholarship to the children of late footballer, Ernest Peremobowei, who drowned after saving five other victims of the flood in a boat mishap.
“Let me also commiserate with the family of the late footballer who died rescuing other victims of the flood. I have a plaque here called the Atiku Abubakar Bravery Award, this award is presented posthumously to Ernest Peremobowei, and also scholarship granted to the two children he has left behind up to university level.”
Responding, Governor Douye Diri who bemoaned the great economic damage caused by the flood, appreciated the PDP Presidential Candidate for his donation, and for not playing politics with the lives of the people of Bayelsa as he acknowledged the reciept of the donation, as against mere pledges.
“For the past three weeks we have been under this siege, all economic activities are on stand still. We have been cut off from the Rivers and Delta States of the East-West road.
“Your coming is a big boost to us, and as a government and the good people of Bayelsa we welcome you to the state.
“Your Excellency, since this flood matter, our people have been very resilient, every community I visited, just like you are giving me hope, they give me hope and I give them hope”, Gov. Diri stated.
Writing on his verified social media handles, Governor Duoye Diri, who received the Vice presidential candidate and his delegation and took them to meet with some of the victims, expressed his gratitude to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar thus:
“Thank you our leader, the Presidential Candidate of our great party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, GCON, for your show of solidarity at this time of ravaging flood.
“Your coming to Yenagoa has given us hope and encouragement.
“Thank you for the total donation of N55 Million Naira to mitigate effect of the flood in the State.
“Our government appreciates you most sincerely for the honour done to our late footballer, Ernest Peremobowei, who died after rescuing about 4 persons in the flood.
“Thank you for the awards of scholarship to the two children of the late footballer up to the University level.
“Your visit to the IDPs camp at Ox-Bow Lake, Yenagoa was well received by the flood victims.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, capturing his visit to Bayelsa State on his social media handles wrote:
“Today, I visited Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital to have a personal experience of the devastation that victims of flooding across the country have been thrown into in the past few weeks.
“The scenes are horrendous and it speaks to the seriousness that we must accord to climate change.
“What I witnessed in Bayelsa is as disheartening as reports from other places; it is a story of human trauma under the spell of the furry of nature. Public infrastructure like roads and power lines have been swept away in a flash, and facilities like hospitals and schools are destroyed and remain unavailable.
“Altogether across the country, it is reported that more than 600 lives have been lost, with more than 2 million people displaced.
“People who are lucky to survive these floods have lost their belongings, and need every ounce of help that they can get from government, non-governmental charity institutions and private donors.
“I commiserate with the victims who have lost their lives and pray that the Almighty gives us the strength to overcome.
“These incidents are unfortunate. Those who happen to become victims of it did not envisage such destruction. Nothing is too big or too small to give in showing empathy with them.
“On behalf of my delegation, I wish to make a donation of Fifty Million Naira to the victims in Bayelsa State.
“While we continue to advocate for charity in help of the victims, I want to reiterate my earlier call for the federal government to immediately launch an independent Flood Disaster Relief Fund that will provide succour to the victims of the floods. It is a national emergency relief fund, similar in scope to what was initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to that end, I wish to call on my friends and associates in the corporate world and in private capacities to join in this cause.
“I also wish to call on governments at all levels to immediately activate measures to forestall the food shortages and further increment in the already high cost of food that are bound to arise from the loss of hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmlands.
“There is no doubt that a large number of the victims are farmers. I also wish to make a plea for the establishment of a temporary fund for farmers to ameliorate their losses and give them capital for next year’s planting season.
“Part of the plans to lessen the burden on Nigerians is for the federal government to consider increased releases of grains from our Strategic Food Reserves and reviewing our import policies to allow for the interim importation of food to make up for shortfalls in food production.
“And to forestall the recurrences of such devastating levels of flooding, the government must build the critical infrastructure required to contain excess water along the banks of the Rivers Niger and Benue.
“The change in climate is a pointer to every human community to be circumspect in leadership recruitments. Climate change is a convergence between politics and nature. Leadership and policies must also change to deal with the dramatc changes we are witnessing around us.
“If we get our politics wrong by electing leaders who choose to play politics with climate change, and refuse to make necessary investments in smart solutions, we will be living in the relics of times past, unmindful of our attendant vulnerabilities.
“It is worrisome that the current APC administration has failed to show leadership and empathy in the management of the disaster.
“Climate change is real and its effects are both local and global.
“If elected as President in the presidential elections next year, I shall commit to completing the Dasin-Hausa Dam in Adamawa State to manage the release of excess water from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon.
“I shall also commit to working with state governments like Bayelsa to build the required flood management infrastructure such as levees and dykes in key locations in the Niger and Benue Basins.
“The dredging of the rivers and estuaries through which inland waters empties into the sea will help in stemming flooding in the Niger Delta areas.
“My government, if given the opportunity, will retool our disaster awareness apparatus, such as the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NHSA), to better forecast disasters and give the warning signals required to activate our national emergency response protocols.
“This retooling will also include the reform of the Nigerian Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) to ensure that it anticipates and responds to disasters such as this, more efficiently than it did, in the current situation.
“My government will ensure that we are never again this badly prepared or lacking in the infrastructure and response protocols to forestall devastation of this nature from natural disasters such as this.
“I thank you for listening and wish to remind you to always remember victims of this flooding both in your prayers and in your acts of charity.