Jane Otu, Calabar – The attention of the Bayelsa State Government has been drawn to a news report on CNN, stating that the government has not been responsive to victims’ plight. This was contained in a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the governor on media, Comrade Tamakuro Oweifie.


While the Bayelsa State Government commends CNN for mobilising its reporter, Mr Larry Madowo, from Kenya, and his camera crew, from Lagos, to broadcast the gory impact of the ravaging floods in Bayelsa State and give it global attention, it condemns the one-sided view of the said report, as it failed to take into cognisance the efforts of the Bayelsa State Government, through the Flood Mitigation and Management Committee and the Bayelsa State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), which have given succour to some victims, communities and Internally displaced persons (IDPs) on several fronts.


In his words: “We know, it is the hallmark of true journalism to give a fair and balanced reportage on any story and every allegation of neglect by the federal or state government, should have given governments concerned a chance to respond and air their views, in order for the report not to appear as biased and the reporter un-informed.”


“For the avoidance of doubt and to put the records straight, the Bayelsa State Government, under the leadership of Governor Douye Diri, has even, before the inception of the perennial flood, taken some proactive steps to mitigate the impact of the flood.


“First the Bayelsa School calendar was redesigned to give a six-week flood break for pupils and students to be safe with their parents during this annual flood period of September and October.


“This move by the State Government has been widely commended, as it forestalled any unforeseen deaths, as most schools were submerged in the flood.”


The Government also constructed an ingenuous mini-dam at the Okutukutu bridge, which proved efficient, as it held back the flood waters and some residential areas were free until the force of the rising waters forced it open.


According to the Bayelsa Government, setting up a Flood Management and Control Committee at the inception of the flood was another measure it took to cushion the impact and this is paying off with daily care of IDPs in several camps at Ox Bow Lake and Igbogene, amongst others, with regular distribution of relief materials through the committee to flood-ravaged communities in Bayelsa State.


While CNN castigates the Federal Government for not rising up to the occasion, it must be recalled that over 300 communities have been submerged and some personalities, (though not enough) have come to donate their widow’s mites to the relief of flood victims in Bayelsa state through the state government.


The Bayelsa state government berates the Federal Government for not responding swiftly as expected (even after the president’s executive order for relevant federal agencies to wade in) considering that remedial measures needed to cushion the effects of the perennial floods are beyond the state’s capacity considering that dredging of the Rivers Niger and Benue – which are crucial to mitigating the perennial floods – and buffer dam construction, which are capital intensive, are the exclusive preserve of the Nigerian government!


The Bayelsa State Government, therefore, calls on the international Oil and Gas Companies (IOCs) and other well-meaning citizens, to come to her aid for humanitarian assistance, as this shall go a long way in alleviating the plight of victims as the post-flood remedial exigencies of road and houses rehabilitation, construction and other massive infrastructure are urgently needed.