Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Senator Iroegbu , Emeka Osondu and Omon-Julius Onabu
President Goodluck Jonathan will soon announce palliative measures to cushion the effects of the devastating floods on many states across the country, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said Sunday.
The minister, who spoke in Asaba, the Delta State capital, where she had gone to distribute relief materials to those displaced by the floods, urged them to exercise patience as the Federal Government had concluded plans to bring them a lasting relief.
According to her, Jonathan has met with governors of the affected states with a view to fine-tuning the measures to address the problem facing the people.
The meeting with the governors, she added, was in addition to the setting up of an inter-ministerial team, currently visiting the affected states, to ascertain the extent of damage in the states and recommend how the Federal Government could help them.
Seven states, including Jonathan’s Bayelsa, Kogi, Delta, Plateau, Rivers and Anambra have been submerged by floods.
Okonjo-Iweala, who was accompanied on the visit by the Delta State Deputy Governor and Chairman, Special Rehabilitation Committee on Flood Displaced Persons, Prof Amos Utuama (SAN), the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Prof. Sylvester Monye, among others, said Jonathan in a few days would unfold the government’s relief package for the flood victims.
“At the federal level, Mr. President has met with the governors of the affected flood disaster states and he is going to do something about it. He has sent some ministers round the affected flood disaster states.
“However, you know I am from both Delta and Abia States; so, I am here to see what is happening. NEMA and other commissioners are really working, but in the next three to four days, Mr. President will announce a key measure and that will give you additional relief,” she said.
She commended Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, for his remarkable efforts at alleviating the suffering of the flood victims.
The highpoint of the finance minister’s visit to the Asaba main relief camp for the flood victims was the presentation of various items by the National Commission for Refugees (NCFR).
The presentation of the items, which was done by the Assistant Director in the Commission and Head of Internally Displaced Persons Unit, Dr. Ovuodo Abdullahi, was witnessed by the Deputy Govenor, Professor Amos Utuama and Delta State Commissioner for Poverty Alleviation, Dr Anthonia Ashiedu, who oversees the relief camps.
Meanwhile, a former lawmaker, Hon. Ralph Okeke, has tasked the Federal Government to go beyond the issue of providing relief materials to victims of the ravaging flood in Anambra State and initiate a process that would guarantee them unhindered access to soft loans to enable them to go back to their business.
Okeke, in an interview with THISDAY after visiting the flooded sites in Anambra East and Anambra West Local Government Areas, lamented that the effects of the floods would be felt for a long time.
“The entire Anambra West with 17 communities and a population of 600,000 people have been submerged in water with most of the roofs of houses in the area swallowed by the ravaging flood. So, the question remains: how will the farmers survive hunger in the next farming season? How will they raise money for farming and feeding in the next farming season?
“I therefore call on the Federal Government to save these real farmers by the issuance of agricultural soft loans to them through the Ministry of Agriculture. I want to state here that N200,000 for each farmer can save lives and enable them to buy seed yams and other seedlings to prepare for the next planting season which starts from December,” Okeke, said.