The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has in partnership with RAHI Medical Outreach, a Non-Governmental organization, distributed relief materials and medical supplies to the people of Opobo in Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Presenting the materials in Opobo yesterday, the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, said that the Commission was intervening in vulnerable communities in the Niger Delta to make life more bearable for them.
Mrs Semenitari said that Opobo suffers from the effects of oil pollution arising from oil exploration and exploitation. She added: “The water in the area is polluted by oil and it has high iron content. The salinity is also high because of the ocean. This exposes the people to water-borne diseases such as cholera.”
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer noted that access to communities surrounded by water is difficult and as such, life was usually expensive in such areas. She further stated that the activities of oil companies impact negatively on the environment, making fishing and farming difficult.
Mrs Semenitari said: “We know that many people can no longer cope with the challenges of providing food for their families. So, in addition to medical care, we have come with some food items to make life easier for the people.
“I thank the Amanyanabo of Opobo, King Dandison Douglas Jaja, for giving us the permission to come into his kingdom to carry out this medical mission. I also thank the team of doctors for their humanitarian services to our people.”
The NDDC Deputy Director, Health, Education and Social Services, Dr. George Uzonwanne, said that the programme was part of Commission’s emergency intervention in rural communities. He said: “We were in Oporoza and Okerenkoko, Delta State, earlier in the year to respond to their challenges. We had to assist in a situation where a lot of people had been displaced because of military operations in their area.”
He said that the emergency medical relief services complemented the regular free medical programme of the NDDC, which was usually taken round the nine mandate states of the Commission, adding that the Commission would continue to assist communities in distress.
The president of RAHI Medical Outreach, Dr. Chris Ekiyor, said that the partnership with NDDC was meant to bring succour to women, children and the less privileged in remote communities.
He explained: “We have been taking this medical outreach from one rural community to the other for the past 12 years. We are here in Opobo with the support of the NDDC to provide free medical services and relief materials to the less privileged members of our society.
“The focus of this project is to make sure that we provide for those in need. We are giving them rice, garri, ground nut oil, palm oil, yam, fish, tin tomatoes, blankets medication and insecticide-treated mosquito nets.”
Dr. Ekiyor said that Opobo town, as an island, was confronted with many challenges in the area of farming. He said: “Most of the food stuff consumed by the people come from the upland areas. That is why we have bought this outreach to take care of the old, children, the weak and vulnerable ones in the communities.
“We will provide basic medical services like checking high blood pressure, treating malaria, visual impairments, age related ailments and deworming of children. We will also reach out to indigent families that are finding it difficult to make ends meet.”
In a related development, the NDDC Acting Managing Director, inspected the emergency repair of Kieprima Polo Mission Road in Opobo town. She observed that the concrete pavement road, which had been completed, was an important link between various communities in the town.
Mrs Semenitari said that the last time she inspected the road, the bridge had collapsed and it was not safe for the use of the members of the communities. According to her, “this is the first time we have had this type of extensive emergency interventions and we will continue. We have seen that the emergency repairs have made tremendous impact across the nine states, and they also come at a lot less cost with a very quick delivery.”