Social amenities: HOMEF seeks government intervention for Akwa Ibom oil community

The Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) has called on the government to intervene in the plight of the oil-producing Okoroiti Community in Eastern Obolo Local Government, Akwa Ibom state.

The organisation expressed displeasure over the situation in the community and wondered how a community with abundant natural resources could be so economically backward without basic social amenities.

The Program Manager of HOMEF, Mr. Stephen Oduware, disclosed this at Okoroiti village hall, Eastern Obolo Local council during a one-day Community Dialogue on Wednesday.

He said that despite their huge contributions to both the state and national economy through their natural resources (oil), the community lacks basic social amenities such as clean water, electricity, access roads, hospitals, and others.

Oduware called on both the state and federal governments to provide basic social amenities for the community to ease their pains.

“We have identified the ecological challenges of this community (Okoroiti). What we have come to realize is that the community is highly impacted by oil spills from about three companies around here, and the community lacks basic social amenities.

“They don’t have either primary or secondary schools, so they have to trek some miles to another community for their education. They don’t even have a primary health center, which is unbelievable. These are the people who play host to oil companies, and we have come to bring the issue to the fore.” He, however, pledged HOMEF’s readiness to partner with them and other CSOs to amplify their voices to address some of these nagging issues,”he added.

On his part, the Coordinator of Peace Point Development Foundation (PPDF), Mr. Umo Isua-Ikoh, stressed that it was high time the government began to give a human face to the plight of the people and address some of these challenges.

“It is high time the government begins to do their part so that we can give the community a human face. It is even a pity that politicians from this community, once they win elections, turn their eyes the other way.”

Speaking with our correspondent, one of the participants, Bartholomew Aragwuja, explained that Okoroiti people walk miles away to access a primary health center in another community, saying it was always difficult to rush any emergency case to the hospital due to inaccessible roads.

Aragwuja further explained that economic activities in the area, such as barbing, hairdressing, ICT, among others, have been on their knees for over seven years due to a lack of electricity.

He also said that youth unemployment was at its peak despite the presence of three International Oil Companies (IOCs) in the council, and some youths being skilled and educated.

“Our community has been neglected for a long time; we don’t have any access roads, only track roads. We have no clean water for over seven years now, no light in our community. Many of us need light to do our work, like salons, joints, photocopying, etc. We want the government to look into this and help us.

“We have graduates in our community but no employment, even though some of us have skills. We won’t be employed in these companies because we don’t have anybody to help us.”

On her part, Rose Donald Ogwunte said the people have suffered poor yields in their farms and fishing activities due to oil exploration and spills over the years. She noted that both the oil companies and government have failed to play their part, despite repeated calls from the community.