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Bayelsa flood: Presidency dismisses calls for minister’s resignation

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THE Presidency has dismissed calls for the resignation of Nigeria’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, by members of House of Representatives from Niger Delta states. 

The lawmakers were irked by the minister’s claim that Bayelsa, one of the states devastated by floods, was not among the 10 most affected in the country.

Bayelsa State governor, Diri Duoye had also accused the Federal Government of neglecting the state in the wake of the flood disaster.

Demanding the minister’s resignation, the lawmaker representing Sagbama Ekeremor Constituency of Bayelsa State, Frederick Agbedi, who spoke on behalf of the other lawmakers from the Niger Delta, said, “We call on the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to honourably resign her appointment as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, failing which Mr President should relieve her of her appointment immediately.

“We the Niger Delta members of the House of Representatives, strongly and unequivocally condemn in strong terms, the statement credited to the honourable minister as insensitive, unpatriotic and unnationalistic. While we are not denying the fact that other states in the Federation are also affected, the comparison and figures given by the honourable minister show a glaring attempt to downplay the harsh reality on ground.”

Reacting on Wednesday, November 9, the Presidency, through the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, dismissed calls for the minister’s resignation.

Shehu added that the minister has been working diligently to deliver humanitarian assistance where it was most needed and fill the gaps of disaster responses in several states.

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Parts of the statement issued by Shehu read; “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.

“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 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.

“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.”

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The statement added that almost every state in Nigeria was affected by the floods.

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Sinafi Omanga is a journalist with The ICIR. His Twitter handle is @OmangaSinafi and Email: somanga@icirnigeria.org

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