By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
The Akwa Ibom State Government has lamented the non-release of relief materials to the state for victims of disaster in the state by the federal government in the last three years.
State Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo hinted this when a team of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) paid an advocacy visit to him in his office in Uyo.
The Deputy Governor, who decried the absolute lack of relief materials for victims of disaster in the State in the last three years despite previous advocacy visits and reports made, appealed to NEMA to match their words with actions, going forward.
“In the last three years, NEMA has not sent any relief materials to Akwa Ibom. It has always been the efforts of the state government with some support from the military”, Mr. Ekpo noted.
He stressed the need for NEMA to identify and mark out areas for possible Internally Displaced Persons camps which people could be evacuated to in the event of any flood incidents in the State as predicted.
“We had expected that during this second advocacy visit, you were going to indicate where the people will put up. You should identify where people can be moved to when there are floods. We had expected a feedback on that after the last visit” he emphasized.
Ekpo pointed out that the State government works very closely with the military and other security agencies to fight not just flood disasters but other disasters in the State.
He said his office has been meeting with Chairmen of Council and Traditional Rulers as well as other stakeholders in the affected local government areas to strategize on the line of actions to be taken, adding that already town criers have been engaged to alert the people, while advocacy visits and jingles were on going.
While commending the Federal Government for its preparatory work, he expressed hope that the advocacy visits would be matched with actions by NEMA through prompt responses to the plight of flood victims in the State.
The Deputy Governor assured that government will not relent in doing everything possible to ensure the safety of the citizenry.
In his remarks, the Director General of NEMA, Air Vice Marshal Muhammadu A. Muhammed (Rtd.) said the advocacy visit on the 2020 flood became necessary because of the strategic role Akwa Ibom plays as one of the major food producers in the country, regretting however that this potential has been threatened by annual occurrences of flood.
Mohammed announced that the Annual Flood Outlook indicated that 102 Local Government Areas in 28 States fell within the highly probable risk areas, including Akwa Ibom, adding that predicted floods have started occurring in many parts of the country with devastating consequences.
Represented by the Director of Disaster Risk Reduction, NEMA, Mr. Owan Vincent, the Director General said it was imperative to activate all plans and measures against the prediction as the season moves towards the peak.
The Director General mentioned that the highly probable flood risk areas in Akwa Ibom State were; Uyo, Nsit Atai, Okobo,Mbo, Udung Uko, Oron, Eastern Obolo, Itu, Ikot Abasi, Ibiono Ibom, Ibeno, Uruan and Urue Offong Oruko Local Government Areas.
He said that though climate change has been largely blamed for the increasing phenomenon, it was the responsibility of government and the citizenry to evolve strategies to minimize losses by adhering to warning alerts, making early preparations and responding properly.
Mohammed appealed to the State government to direct the State Emergency Management Agency,SEMA,Local Government Authorities and other response agencies to put in place key preparedness actions.
He further called for distilling river channels and canals, removing all refuse and weeds from water channels and drainage, identifying high grounds for possible IDPs and carrying out enlightenment campaigns targeting vulnerable communities to undertake mitigation actions and prepare for evacuation to safe ground.
The visit had in attendance the representatives of the Commander, 2 Brigade, Lt. Col. Jubril Sabo, the Commanding Officer, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, Commander Josephat Shehu, and the Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship Jubilee (NNS Jubilee), Ikot Abasi, Lt. Commander Hussaini Abari, as well as the Commissioner for Works and Fire Service, Prof. Eno Ibanga and his counterpart in the Ministry of Environment, Sir Charles Udoh.