Residents of Otuoke, the hometown of former President Goodluck Jonathan, and several other communities in Bayelsa State are blaming the current flood that has ravaged their areas on the state government’s diversion of funds budgeted to mitigate the 2012 flood. Our correspondent reported that parts of Bayelsa State have become besieged by flood, a reprise of the 2012 flood that deluged many parts of Nigeria. As at today, the Otuoke-Onuebum Road in Ogbia, which connects the Federal University Otuoke, has again been submerged by floodwaters.
The Bayelsa government had received more than N600 million from the Federal Government, under the Jonathan administration, as well as donations of more than N15 billion from donor agencies and individuals, including billionaire Aliko Dangote.
Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa set up a flood committee headed by Francis Doukpola to administer the flood funds, but the committee was subsequently disbanded when the governor failed to fund its operations. Some members of the flooded communities now accuse the governor of setting up the committee as a smokescreen to divert public attention from the funds.
Two members of the committee echoed that sentiment, telling SaharaReporters that the committee did not get the funds to start work or to take measures to mitigate the flood and rehabilitate the victims.
The 2012 flood had compelled the University to vacate for several months until the flood receded.
Mrs. Maureen Abute, a passenger on the Otuoke-Onuebum Road, blamed the state government for not utilizing the flood intervention fund that was given to the state in 2012. She said the government’s delinquency was responsible for the current hardship many people face.
Another commuter, a taxi driver plying the road, Mr. Isaac Chinedum, said the road was already in a terrible shape before the flooding. He urged the Federal Government to intervene to address the crisis, stating that the state government had neglected the road over the years. Mr. Chinedum revealed that the youth in the community were the ones sand filling the road. “The commercial drivers are paying them from the little profit they make,” he said.
Many commuters told our correspondent that many travelers now ply the Elebele Road, a long diversion.
In Otuoke, one passenger, Amos Agah, said passengers were being charged fares as high as N800 instead of N400 for the trip from Otuoke to Onuebum. Mr. Agah, who works at the Federal University, Otuoke (FUO), appealed to the state government to address the flood crisis for the sake of FUO.
“This was the same way people suffered when the first flood happened in October 2012. There has been no proper preventive measure put in place despite funds set aside for the purpose during Goodluck Jonathan’s Presidency,” he said.
He added: “The students of FUO will resume soon after their holidays. They are going to find things difficult if urgent action is not taken to mitigate the effect of the flood.”