By Marcus Ikechukwu
Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, has said Bayelsa state is not among the ten most affected states in terms of flooding, rather Jigawa, Anambra and Kogi top the list.
The Minister said official statistics from the Ministry revealed the number of deaths recorded per state, number of people displaced, number of injuries, houses damaged, farm lands per hectares damaged, and the general population affected and were used in assessing the states affected most.
In the 2022 flood data as of 24th October 2022 provided by the ministry, the death toll in Jigawa stood at 91, and Anambra 77, while in Kogi, 471,991 persons were affected, although no death was recorded there.
In all, 3,219,780 Nigerians were affected nationwide, while the number of displaced persons stood at 1,427,370 persons and the total deaths placed at 612.
Farouq and her ministry officials gave these explanations when they appeared at the Ministerial Media Briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday.
Her explanations come just as the State Governor, Duoye Diri, had recently accused the Federal Government of neglecting the state in response to the floods despite being the nation’s cash cow.
Her reactions also come contrary to perceptions held in some quarters that Bayelsa may be the worst hit, especially as the state is mostly below sea level.
It also contradicted claims recently made by the Leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, that as the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, she was not humane over the treatment of areas hit by floods in Bayelsa and other parts of the South, she said it is Jigawa that is the most affected by the current floods.
Recall that Clark had said: “We have a humanitarian minister that is not humane, who was only active in carry out school feeding of school children who were confined to their homes during the Covid-19 lockdown.
In her response, Mrs Farouq said the Ministry had taken relief materials to Bayelsa through the Nigerian Air Force.
She said it is not true that she is inhumane, noting that the flood disaster is a national issue and she is performing her duty to the best of her ability.
“Bayelsa is not among the ten worst-hit states, Jigawa is.
“Merely looking at me, you know that I am humane,” she said.
She also disclosed that there was an ongoing assessment of farmlands damaged with a view to compensating them.
She also disclosed that Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote had donated relief materials worth N1.5billion, which are to be distributed among the beneficiaries.
She also disclosed that despite the challenges posed by the flood situation, the government has no intention of launching an appeal fund, adding that her ministry has not received any dime from any organisation other than material donations.