The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has hinged the devastating flood to the impact of climate change, saying the phenomenon was real.
Abubakar, who spoke in Government House, Yenagoa, during a sympathy visit to the Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, on Tuesday, donated a total sum of N55m to flood victims in the state.
Abubakar, who announced a donation of N50m while with Diri and another N5m at the Oxbow Lake IDP camp in the state capital, said the gesture was his token to support the recovery process of those affected by the flood.
He said, “My visit to Yenagoa is to have a personal experience of the devastation that victims of flooding have suffered across the country. Climate change is real. The experience in Bayelsa is disheartening. Human lives and public infrastructure have been destroyed.”
Describing the disaster as disheartening, Abubakar lamented its effect on the lives and economy of people of the state and called on the Federal Government and public-spirited individuals and organisations to support Bayelsa in this difficult moment.
The former Vice President advocated the setting up of an independent flood disaster relief fund that will provide succour to victims and a temporary fund for farmers to ameliorate their losses and provide them with capital for next year’s planting season.
He also urged the Federal Government to build the required infrastructure to contain excess waters.
He said if elected president, he would commit to completing the dam in Adamawa State and take other necessary measures to ensure that Nigeria does not suffer this magnitude of damage as a result of flooding.
The PDP candidate also offered scholarship up to university level to children of the late footballer, Ernest Peremobowei, who drowned after saving five other victims of the flood in a boat mishap.
“People who are likely to survive this flood have lost their livelihood and need every ounce of support they can get. I commiserate with them.
“On my part and on behalf of my family, I wish to announce the sum of N50 million and call on my friends in the corporate world to also assist the victims of flood,” Abubakar added.
Governor Diri said people of the state were encouraged by the display of love by the former Vice President.
Diri, while confirming receipt of the donation, said he was the first presidential candidate to donate such amount, assuring that the money will be paid into the flood relief account for the benefit of victims.
Diri lamented the slow response of the Federal Government despite several efforts by him to get the attention of the relevant authorities.
He stressed that Bayelsa remains the state that lays the golden egg where oil was first struck in commercial quantity and wondered why the Federal Government was yet to give the state the attention it deserved.
The Bayelsa governor described Atiku as a caring father who has brought hope to people of the state and expressed optimism that he will win next year’s presidential election and work with the state to find lasting solutions to the issue of flooding.
He dismissed suggestions that the flooding was caused by rainfall, insisting that waters from the Lagdo dam and issues of climate change were responsible.