*Blames increasing waterways crimes in Niger Delta on government neglect of coastal communities
By Egufe Yafugborhi
ARUNTON — A NON GOVERNMENTAL Organisation, Coastal Region Communities (Women & Youth Empowerment Foundation) and Escravos Ugborodo Women Empowerment Foundation, CROWEF/EWEF has attributed the widespread vandalism, piracy, robbery and other social vices in the Niger Delta to government’s neglect of coastal communities.
President of the group, Mrs. Praise Oritsegbubene-Abraham Igbene made the remark as the body concluded the first phase of its annual food and medical charity to Arunton, an Ugborodo community in Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State.
The project was supported by the International Association of African NGO’s IAAN, USA, Dangote Group of Companies, Agbowu Medical Centre and Prof. Okalkanwon Taiye.
Community lacks govt presence
Mrs. Igbene, who decried the absence of government structures to cater for the basic needs of people in coastal areas, noted that in Arunton, teachers in the only public primary school, Ekpere, do not come to work while the health centre in the area lacks facilities including drugs to cater for the health needs of the people.
“My message to the government and its agencies is that they should really play their role in uplifting the life of every citizen of this nation. Government should ensure that even the man in the forest is reached out to.
“Coastal communities’ people build their lives on their own in the atmosphere of hardship in the midst of plenty. This is why we are having problems in the creeks. People sit down in Abuja and judge those breaking pipelines. One of the ways government can resolve the situation and the associated consequences through sustained intervention is to partner committed NGOs to improve lives in these areas,” she said.
This year, Mrs. Igbene’s NGO focused on women and youths, concentrated on free medicare to cushion the health challenges faced by the neglected people in the coastal communities with provision of drugs, food items, and clothing estimated at over one million naira. She wondered if any governor has visited Escravos, host to Chevron Nigeria Limited lately.
Reaching out to the needy
“Our mandate is to fulfill the heart beat of God for the needy. As always, we are happy with the results realised in the treatment of people with diabetics, high blood pressure, hypertension, malaria and typhoid fevers, body pains, minor eye cases and general ailments.
Mrs. Igbene also enjoined the beneficiaries of the free treatment, drugs, food and clothing to have hope and confidence in themselves, believing God has not forgotten them where the world, especially government has neglected them. She charged them to fear God and do His will, stressing that without Him, help will not come their way.
A beneficiary of the NGO’s charity mission, Mrs. Aturene Koko thanked the CROWEF/EWEF team and sponsors for the gesture, rejoicing, “my problem don solve as una come so. God go give una more to do more for us.” Another beneficiary, Mrs. Okiemute Irhi called for an extension of the programme to other areas in Ugborodo community.
Tough working environment
Headmaster at Ekpere Primary School, Arunton, Mr. Alatan Lucky, however, debunked claims by the NGO that teachers in the school don’t come to work. Mr. Lucky, who spoke through the Assistant Headmaster, Mr. Bankole Bamiyemi, said the NGO’s impression was “false and misleading,” noting that “teachers come to work on a daily basis.”
Highlighting the challenges faced by teachers and pupils, the school head said: “Foul smelling bats have taken over the school. Basic amenities have decayed. The toilets have been vandalized and we have not had electricity supply for the past three years while the rest of the community enjoy same from Chevron Nigeria Limited.”