Bayelsa Deputy Governor, retired Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John-Jonah, on Friday described the military as a vital element in the management of natural disasters like flooding, erosion and outbreak of diseases in the country.
Retired Rear Admiral John-Jonah, who stated this while on a visit to the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs Camp at Igbogene in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state, lauded the Nigerian Air Force for carrying out medical services for over four hundred flood victims in the state.
He explained the military has the necessary training and equipment that can be mobilized at the shortest possible time to intervene in disaster management, noting that, the state government is grateful for the collaboration.
His words: “On behalf of his Excellency, the Governor of Bayelsa State, Rt. Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson I want to thank the Chief of Air Staff immensely and I want the AOC to pass this message to him.
The scale of assistance that is being rendered is unexpected. This is a completely filled hospital with all the skills that are required to carry out any medical feat. Those that are actually trained in humanitarian services that can take the initiative and come down to the swamp areas to assist.
The flood is very devastating. This is not the best place for you to come and stay but under the circumstances, this is the only place we can offer you now. We must thank those assisting us today.
I am told that already 6 IDPs are in the Air Force hospital and surgery is being planned for them, which means it is every level of medical assistance that they are prepared to do. They have the specialist that will carry out those task.
The military is a vital element in disaster management in the country that you cannot ignore. Every unit of the military can serve as a disaster unit when it happens because it is the military that has the necessary training and equipment that can be mobilized at the shortest possible time to intervene before any other unit. Even NEMA may not be able to respond before the military does that.
Today we have seen the example of how that can be done. I want you to carry the message that Bayelsa is indeed grateful and hope it would not stop there and if there are other collaborations we will continue.
The Deputy Governor, who stressed that Bayelsa is prone to flooding due to its below sea level status, renewed his call on the federal government to establish shelter centres in the eight Local Government Areas of the state to tackle the problem of accommodating displaced persons.
He advised that the height of the flood in 2012 should be used as the basis for sand-filling of the areas to be used as shelter centres and appealed to the federal government for more assistance and facilities to prepare for subsequent floods in the state.
Retired Admiral John-Jonah was conducted round by the Air Force Medical Outreach by its Team leader, Group Captain Azubuike Chukwuka, to see the services rendered and also administered drugs to some children.
“Because Bayelsa state is under sea level, it is important for the people to know and more importantly for the federal government to do more for the state as flooding will continue to happen.
By recommendation, a team I led after the 2012 flood suggested the building of shelter stations in the 8 LGAs of the state. Like in South America, they know hurricane will come so they build hurricane shelters. Once there is a warning, they go to the shelter and nobody is hurt.
My prayer once again to the federal government is that the recommendation by our committee which was given to NEMA and taken to Abuja as well should be looked into. Facilities like this can be built in every LGA, taking the height of tides of the flood in 2012 as the basis for sand-filling of the areas.
We will plead with the federal government for more assistance and facilities so that we can prepare ourselves for the next flood in the state. By the time we establish standard camps because of our terrain, more facilities can be provided and movement to those areas will be orderly and manageable”.
Also speaking, Air Officer Commanding Mobility Command, Yenagoa, Air Vice Marshall Napoleon Bali, said the reports of flood situation in Bayelsa informed the decision of the Nigerian Air Force to carry out the free medical services to the displaced persons, assuring that they would extend their services to other IDP camps in the state.
On his part, Director-General, Bayelsa State Emergency Management Agency, Dr. Zedekiah Isu, said the Restoration Administration has done a lot to alleviate the sufferings of the flood victims, and thanked the Air Force for coming to the aid of the over four hundred IDPs.