By Ikechukwu Iweajunwa
Owerri, Sept 21, 2020 Gov. Hope Uzodimma of Imo, has said his administration is desirous to restore the original masterplan of Owerri, the capital city, as part of the efforts to tackle flood-related issues in the state.
Uzodinma said this on Monday, when a delegation of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) came on an advocacy to the state.
The governor, who was represented by the Secretary to State Government (SSG), Mr Cosmos Iwu, said that plans were underway to demolish all the houses built on the waterways in the city “in order to give the water access to flow into Otamiri River.”
He also said that government had carried out series of sensitisation programmes in the state aimed at preparing the people for emergencies and called for the agency’s support.
“We are appealing to NEMA to assist us because the environmental impact of the flood in Imo is bigger than us.
“We have been doing our best and we will continue to do our best. We have received some relief items from NEMA but we are asking for more.
“We also commend your visit to Imo, it shows serious commitment on the side of NEMA,” the governor said.
In a speech, the Director-General of the agency, AVM Mohammed Mohammed (rtd.), appealed to the state government and major disaster stakeholders to demonstrate greater commitment to disaster management.
Mohammed, who was represented by Deputy Director (Accounts) in the agency, Mr Abdul-Aziz Jibrin, said that the visit was to ascertain the level of preparedness by Imo government in case of any disaster.
He said that the state was among the states in Nigeria likely to witness flooding this year as predicted by the Nigeria Meteorological Agency.
The NEMA boss said that Imo had shown capacity in disaster management in the past and urged Gov. Hope Uzodimma to show more commitment in mitigating flood and other disasters in the state.
“We are here on advocacy visit and awareness campaign to sensitise the people on the need to be prepared at all times.
“I am assuring Imo of NEMA’s full commitment to partner with the government and dissaster stakeholders in the area of disaster management,” he said.
Mohammed listed Ohaji-Egbema, Ogutta, Oru-East and Owerri North as highly probable flood risk local government areas in the state.
He warned that other council areas, “which does not fall under high probability may also be affected.”
He said that although the state seemed prepared for any disaster, there was need for the government to ensure regular sensitisation of the people to be vigilant.
“We have interacted with all the disaster stakeholders and government and I can assure you that we are satisfied with their level of preparedness.
“But they must not relent in showing commitment at all times,” Mohammed said.
He said the agency was also in Imo to interact with other disaster stakeholders to know their challenges and the way forward.
The Commander, 211 Quick Response Group Nigerian Air Force, Group Capt. Elisha Bindul, assured the NEMA delegation in his office of the command’s commitment to disaster management.
Bindul said the command had also embarked on advocacy visits to various community leaders in Imo to sensitise them on disaster management.
He said the command also carried out rescue operations in various communities and also provided security to NEMA officials during emergencies.
“It is our legal responsibility to carry out rescue operations during emergency and to also collaborate with other stakeholders in mitigating disaster,” Bindul said.
He listed limited speed boats and life jackets, ambualances and mattresses as some of the challenges facing the command during interventions in disaster management.
He solicited the assistance of the agency in providing the necessary logistics to the command for a better proactive approach to disaster management.
He promised the command’s readiness to continue to partner with the agency in disaster management in the state.