Seven local government areas in the Anambra North Senatorial district will never forget year 2012 in a hurry. The year will ever remain in the sad memory of the seven local governments who share boundaries with Omabala Urashi and River Niger. Going by the records of the flood disaster which occured in the year, it was not the first time as similar occurrence with the same deverstating effect occured in 1968.
Those residing along the coastlines were caught napping. In 2012, 68 communities were completely submerged along the confluence town of Ukwalla in Anambra West Local Government Area to Osamalla and Ndoni in Ogbaru Local Government Area and Ogba/ Egbema/ Ndoni Local Government Area, Rivers State.
In the process farm lands buildings were submerged which also affected communities in Idemili South and Ekwusigo Local Government Areas.
It is no longer news that this act of nature left in it’s trail monumental havoc which affected agricultural activities. Farmers who had obtained loans from the bank for the year’s planting season lost their investments as the flood swept away all that they had laboured for.
Anambra North Senatorai District being the food basket of the state battled without end to salvage the much they could from the ragging flood disaster.
Deepening their woes were the displaced families who took refuge in government schools and community town halls as Internally Displaced Persons (IDP). Worst hit were pregnant women, nursing mothers and children, who became victims of all manners of epidemic.
The perceived IDP camps provided by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and that of the State government SEMA painted a picture of hopelessness and helplessness reminding one of those
days of the Nigeria civil war victims of malnutrition and homelessness.
Babies delivered in those camps lived at the mercy of share providence due to the absence of necessary medical equipment and other medicaments and post natal care. Relief materials meant for the victims were either inadequate or operatives of NEMA allegedly got involved in sharp practices and cutting corners to the peril of camp in mates .
Unfortunately the lessons learnt from the flood were not taken into sharp focus, as at every flood year the operatives of NEMA and SEMA always come ill – prepared, as they adopt a fire brigade approach to the challenges. It is against this back drop that the member representing Anambra East and West Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Chief Chinedu Obidigwe, who is also the Deputy Chairman House Committee on Environment recently set the ball in motion to confront similar situations in this flood year.
He said: “I have made spirited efforts and strong representations to the Federal Government and NEMA on what should be
done in order to manage the situation this year and beyond. “There is the urgent need to establish permanent IDP camps in the seven local government areas of the state. “These camps would also be well equipped with all the necessary facilities as well as a mini clinic in order to take care of victims.
“Also the respective General Hospitals and Health Centres must be given great attention in order to take care of spill overs from the IDP camps.” Furthermore, Obidigwe posited that the camps must have pantries, stores and kitchens for the feeding of in mates .
“The era of officials going cap in hand begging for food stuffs when the situation has worsened is not proper and the Federal and State governments should establish strong contacts with agencies that can at all times make provisions for food and medicaments.”
Obidigwe announced that he has commenced discussions with fellow legislators from Anambra North Senatorial District on the actualization of this project while expecting response from government. He noted that he has commenced the recruitment of medical personnel who would be working at the camps and would be placed on allowance while doing their jobs. Obidigwe also announced the introduction of lively hood support for farmers and fisher men who lost out in the flood.
“The aim,” he continued, “is to provide them with grants in order to cushion the effects of what the flood did to their businesses. Similarly there is a move to get the Federal Government to dredge the Omabala River, which according to Obidigwe would also reduce the level of flood in the river rine areas.
According to the motion the law maker made, the Omabala River is shallow hence causing perennial flooding even before the peak of the rainy season. He through a petition to the Federal Ministry of Water Resources urged government to set plans in motion to commence the dredging of the river.
This innovation by Obidigwe is seen by sections of the public as a novelty in the history of representations in Anambra state.