From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency has reacted to calls for the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, to resign for claiming that Bayelsa State was not among the 10 most-affected states saying Jigawa State was the worst hit in the federation by the catastrophe.
The Presidency while acknowledging that the flood in Bayelsa was catastrophic, as it was in other states, the demand for the minister’s resignation at this time was inappropriate. It noted that disaster management efforts have been clearly overwhelmed by the challenge of providing aid to a large number of displaced people in Bayelsa and other states, the restoration of their damaged property, and the farming lands washed away, but that is not to say no efforts are being made.
According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, “the scenes of flooding from Bayelsa state are deeply saddening. The Presidency’s thoughts are with victims of, and those affected by, the floods.
“However, calls from some quarters for the resignation of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development are not appropriate in this climate.
“Almost every state in Nigeria has been affected.
“The federal government is concerned about what has happened in Bayelsa as it is with respect to the other states. No life lost is bigger or lesser than that of the others.
“The challenge of bringing succour to a large number of the displaced people in Bayelsa and other states, the restoration of their damaged property and farmlands washed away have clearly overwhelmed disaster management efforts so far but that is not to say no efforts are being made.
“The huge need for everything from foodstuff to tents, blankets and mosquito nets; antimalarial and other drugs clearly indicate that more resources are needed, not only by the disaster management agencies at the centre but also by those at the State and local council levels that are structural, the first responders.
“The Minister has been diligently working to target assistance where its most needed and plug the gaps in several state governments’ disaster responses.
“The state of Bayelsa has done commendably well but they certainly can do better with increased federal assistance, which is still being delivered batch by batch.
“All these efforts are coming ahead of the report of the committee under the auspices of the Nigerian Governors Forum, set up by the President “to fashion out solutions and then escalate their conclusions to the federal government, to alleviate the plight of people currently being ravaged by the flood around the country.
“This is just as more is being expected by way of international response and how much difference can be made by support from businesses and nonprofits as the country deals with its worst flooding in decades.
“We hope that everyone, the agencies of the federal government, the states and the local councils will increase the attention to pay to the challenges of climate change.
“Clearly, this is not a time for public reproach. It will only weaken our collective response to the tragedy, and ultimately hinder cooperation that saves lives and delivers emergency aid.
“The government at the centre will continue to do more for Bayelsa and for all states so affected as more and more resources are made available to agencies dealing.”
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