By Ed Malik, A | November 7, 2022
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has described as sensational and lacking in facts the claim credited to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Farouq, last Thursday, that Bayelsa State is not classified as one of the floods affected States.
HURIWA said without the supported of empirical data by the Minister said that, contrary to perception in some quarters, Bayelsa State, which everyone knows is presently marooned under floods, is not among the 10 most affected States in the country.
The rights group described the statement by the Minister as preposterous, “irredeemably rigged, manipulated and skewed by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management to ensure that federally redistributed relief materials and assistance from international and local donors are diverted to the Northern State of Jigawa State. “
HURIWA wondered that if statistics about negative development could be manipulated for mundane ethno-religious narrative and sustained by obfuscated reasoning in order to gain more relief materials to Jigawa State, how can one be sure the 2023 general election won’t suffer the same ethno-religious Nigerian fate?
Debunking the error-prone allegedly doctored statistics of the worst affected States by floods in 2022 as released by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Ms. Farouk, who appeared at the ministerial media briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja and made the assertion seeking to discredit the extensively held and scientifically established perception that Bayelsa State, the group said it is the spirit of favouritism at work.
The group said that, nothing could be more puerile and illogical in naming Jigawa as the most affected State, noting there is no geographical justification or explanation to exclude Bayelsa State from among the 10 worst hit States.
HURIWA recalled that reacting to the claim recently made by the leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, 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, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management said Jigawa was the most affected by the current floods.
HURIWA recalled that Chief. Clark had said, “We have a humanitarian minister that is not humane, who was only active to carry out school feeding of school children who were confined to their homes during the COVID-19 lockdown. “In such an urgent situation of ravaging flood, she has decided to maintain a disquieting quietness.
The group also decried the response quotient of the National Emergency Agency, (NEMA) for not taking proactive measures, and also wondered why the mother of the nation, the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari has not taken a front seat in efforts to bring relief to the fellow women and children affected by the floods.
Besides, HURIWA recalled that the Bayelsa State Emergency Management Agency, says flood has affected no fewer than 1.3million people in the State just as SEMA in Bayelsa State faulted the claim made by the Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management minister by stating thus: “As at November 4, about 96 deaths were reported, with Yenagoa Local Government Area worst hit.
It was also reported that the flood affected a number of farmlands, school buildings, health infrastructures and other facilities across over 300 communities of the eight LGAs of the State. Preliminary reports and data available to SEMA and other agencies indicate that Bayelsa remained the most flood impacted among states in the country. The agency said among the worst affected areas in the state are Biseni, Tombia-Ekpetiama, Tombia-Amassoma Road, Akenfa, Akenpai, Igbogene and Swali, all in Yenagoa Local Government Area, as well as Kaiama, Odi, Otuoke, and Ogbia communities. Others include, Agbere, Odoni, Bulu-Oria, Agoro and Sagbama.
HURIWA decried that the current posturing of the minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management is an affront on science, saying that by choosing to rely on emotive conjectures in reaching a determination that Jigawa with virtually no maritime shoreline compared to Bayelsa that is located virtually on top of massive Deep seas is worst affected by floods than Bayelsa State is a worrisome analysis.
HURIWA is therefore demanding from the minister to show proofs that she actually visited the floods affected areas in such places as Anambra and Bayelsa States just as it accused NEMA of concentrating virtually 85% of the distribution of publicly procured relief materials to northern Nigeria.
“The conclusion reached by the minister with specific reference to scoring Jigawa State first was done just to curry favours and to be able to win more relief materials for her people the northerners rather than relying on scientific data which is a precursor to planning and delivering appropriate relief materials to appropriate places,” HURIWA stated.