Barely two months after the people of Ogbaru in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra
State in Eastern Nigeria, cried out for help because of a menacing flood, the disaster of nature has sacked schools and markets in the area.
Ogbaru people are traditional fisher-people, farmers as well as known warriors. They share clan lineage and boundaries with their people in Delta State and Rivers State such as Asaba in Delta and Ndoni in Rivers. Ogbaru was a food basket in Biafra during the Nigerian Civil War and post civil war.
Some of her prominent figures include Atamanya Okwesa.( a king of Ossomala Kingdom in the 1800s ), Professor Ben Nwabueze, Chief David Egonu of Dunon Furniture Company, the first furniture company in Eastern Nigeria, Chief Luke Obi, former Chairman Nigerian Coal Corporation, Enugu, Prof Ben Akpati, diplomat, politician and author, Oseloka H. Obaze, Senator Stella Odua, Princess Chinwe Clare Nwaebili, Chief Daniel Obi Okolie, a retired banking executive, and the late Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe, a world-renowned and acclaimed high life musician.
The member representing the flood-ravaged area in the state House of Assembly, Chukwunonso Noble Igwe, described the situation as horrible and pitiable, and urged the state government to step up efforts towards ameliorating their problems.
‘’Our people do not feel government’s presence here. The whole place is in a very bad condition. We do not have any single good road in Okpoko. Lack of good road has led to a rise in crimes because the security personnel cannot move around to pursue criminals’’, he said, adding, ‘’people suffer much during the rainy period because of the flooding caused by bad roads and poor drainage.’’
Continuing, the state legislator said, ‘’last year alone, we recorded about five deaths due to flood in Okpoko. We have a working governor, maybe he had not been told about the conditions of the people of Okpoko. We are suffering and we are beckoning on him to please do at least two or three kilometers road for the constituency.’’
Mrs.Benedict Ibeazor, who lives in Central Okpoko, says they have been subjected to perpetual suffering due to erosion and flooding. ‘’Most times people flee their houses to avoid being trapped by flood. No government delegation has ever visited the area to undertake an environmental impact assessment on the level of degradable and deplorable conditions of the area’’, she said.
While another resident, Chief Samuel Okorienta, said the flooding has been a recurrent factor and people lose their lives and property during rainy seasons every year, there has been rising tension and apprehension among residents as many families have been sacked from their homes.
The situation has been attributed to constant rainfall in the area, which has sacked students and traders from schools and markets respectively just as academic activities have been put on hold to avert endangering the lives of teachers and pupils.
Similarly, economic activities have remained on hold as markets have remained closed. The Iyasele of Atani, Chief Augustine Uyanne, is attributing the flood menace to the overflow of
the river banks and poor drainage system in the area, lamenting that his house was also affected, forcing him to relocate, while calling for urgent intervention by relevant agencies,
insisting that the people of the area were in grave danger.
‘’We no longer sleep in our houses, even when we do, we cannot sleep with our two eyes closed, lest we be swept into the river by flood. More than three persons have already lost their lives within a space of two weeks as a result of this flood. We are devastated, and we are calling on government to come to our aid’’, the community leader said.
The state government had earlier called on people living in riverine areas of the state to be at alert and be ready to relocate to internally displaced peoples camps, which it insisted had been fully equipped to house displaced people.