Flood victims who have been displaced from their homes in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Sunday attacked Christian leaders and broke the glasses of the doors of venue of service in an attempt to abort the planned Sunday service. The displaced persons also threatened to attack officials of the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) who were attending to their needs in the camp. Their grouse was the poor conditions in the camp, including insufficient food, mattresses and medical supplies.
As a result, President Goodluck Jonathan, who was in his home state the same day, was compelled to change his plan to address thousands of the displaced people in the Bishop Dimeri Grammar School (BDGS) where persons displaced by flood from six communities are camped. Some of the victims, who spoke to Nigerian Tribune, claimed that they have been abandoned by their leaders who have not shown enough concern for their plight since arriving at the camp about three weeks ago. They, therefore, said that they were not in the position to listen to the word of God on empty stomach as nothing had been done to alleviate their suffering.
They also suspected that the church officials were more interested in the collections they would get from the worshippers rather than the victims’ comfort. One of them, who spoke on behalf of the others said, “Let them come together and help us. At most, in two months, this problem will be over. We have not seen any of our representatives, no local government chairman, no commissioner, no lawmaker both at federal and state levels, to come and see, first-hand, what we are suffering here. The condition here is not conducive for us.”
However, speaking on the matter, the Bayelsa State chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), The Most Reverend Israel Ege, blamed the problem on the demand by the displaced persons for cash in place of the food that they were being served. He said that giving them cash was unthinkable as it would not go to those genuinely affected: “If you give them cash, how will they share it? Some people will just grab it and go away,” he said.
In his own opinion, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) zonal coordinator, South-South zone, Emenike Umesi, said their anger was a consequence of their displacement from their homes and not necessarily because they were not receiving enough relief materials.