By Sabi Onyenewe, Owerri
A multinational oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria Limited, has enlivened the people of Obite community through flagging off the Assa-Obite Pipeline Community Care Programme (A-CCP) called ‘health-in-motion” at Obite town hall in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni/Emohua local government area (ONELGA) in Rivers State.
The programme is said to be the company’s recognition and demonstration that health is wealth and in respect of the Assa North–Ohaji South Community Pipeline Project which is on-going to supply gas to areas as projected by the oil giant.
The flag-off ceremony was at Obite town hall and the following communities were the beneficiaries–Obite, Egita, Akopta, Ohiouga, Ikiri, and Egbeda.
The Obite town hall was filled up with people and the medical personnel wearing “T-shirts” with Shell’s inscription. They were seen attending to patients at designated corners within the premises.
As expected the people were in high spirit to embrace the treatments which covered cardia-vascular screen breast and cervical cancer care, dental and eye care, treatment of minored chronic ailments.
The chairman of ONELGA, Odili Ifeanyichukwu, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Chijioke Ejebide, commended Shell. According to him, “Shell is wearing a new face. Years ago Shell had no good community relations programme, but I debunk such against Shell now. Health is wealth”.
“You have started in a good note, continue, and do not look down on our people. Whenever you need our support we will give you to do your job in ONELGA”, he advised.
The chairman further advised the six communities to cooperate with Shell. “ONELGA people are known for dialogue. Cooperate with them and with what am seeing today, Shell will do well. Welcome Shell, if there is any problem, dialogue and the community development council (CDC) is there”.
He went further to say that ONELGA is the only LG in Rivers State that hosts many multinational oil companies and that the local government could boast of gas and oil.
The chairman repeated “Shell, please treat our people well, if you do not treat our people well, we will resist, but ONELGA people are peace loving people”.
Ufuoma Ovwigho who represented the community health officer- Akinwumi Fajiola advised Shell to involve the ONELGA health workers at any other time such programme would be done again as the LG has a lot of medical officers.
Meanwhile, in an interview, Florence Frank one the beneficiaries of the free medical treatment commended Shell and described the programme as “a good thing coming from Shell”. She stated that another oil company Total had done such a free medical treatment but “this one by Shell is a good one and I like it and I want God to protect them”.
Also Onyechere Nwokocha, a pastor thanked God for the free treatment organized by Shell as it has now recognized the community, saying, “They should continue to come and check if what they have done is yielding fruits”.
Onyechere advised the free medical treatment beneficiaries to keep to the drug prescriptions to avoid the consequences.
Shell’s general manager, external relations, Igo Weli who was represented by Chibuzo Ayim, external relations manager, Land noted that the programe was organized by Shell in collaboration with the Ogba/Egbema /Ndoni and Emohua local government councils in liaison with the Rivers State ministry of health for the benefit of the six communities along the Assa-Obite pipeline right way.
Igo stated that the Assa-Obite pipeline is an integral part of the Assa North- Ohaji South development project which marks a major expansion Nigeria’s gas production and the project would support the Federal government’s National Gas Master Plan aspirations by developing the reservoirs in the Assa North/ Ohaji South fields in Imo State.
On the Shell’s Community Care programme which he said was introduced more than a decade ago in the Niger Delta and had since reached thousands of people across Nigeria with its free medical health component tagged “health in-motion”, he said that in the last eight years, over 600,000 persons had benefited from the programme and that their presence in Rivers State was part of a broader care agenda to their major stake holders in project communities.
Igo reminded the people that health is the greatest gift and that good health is wealth, he asked them to humbly present themselves and their families for screening and also take advantage of the programme to access quality health care services from the SPDC team.