13 years after deadly crisis, Rumuekpe community takes delivery of school building
As reported by Guardian
NDPR: We’re Happy Children Now Have Good School Environment
There was excitement in Rumuekpe Community in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State, as 13 years after a deadly crisis life is gradually returning. Now they can boast of a modern junior/secondary school facility in the area.
The intra-communal crisis caused by leadership struggle and distrust from 2005 to 2010, rendered the community a ghost town as every house and property was burnt down, many killed while others fled. The only visible things left untouched in the area then, were bushes and shrines. They were lucky to have hospitable neighbours who accommodated them. After a while, there was transient peace and the community members started returning back to their villages from their refugee camps to resume normal life, but with nothing on ground.
It was gathered that the Niger Delta Petroleum Resource (NDPR), an indigenous oil and company provided roofing sheets worth N29.5million between 2011 and 2012 to enable the displaced people return and rebuild their homes.
Concerned about the children’s education and future, the firm also awarded contract for the construction of a junior and senior secondary school building for Rumuekpe to enable young ones proceed with their education.
During the commissioning of the project on Thursday, some students were seen shedding tears of joy.
One of them, Awute Godswill in SS 2A, said, “ We lost everything we had, as refugees, we were squatting with other students in their schools in different villages and it was not easy but today, I am happy we have a modern school with facilities in Rumuekpe “
Also, Weruka Glory, in SS 2A, said, “When we came back from Alimini, the school here was bushy, there was no sign of hope for us to further our education but I am grateful to NDPR for this gesture.”
On his part, Victor Chuma, said, the facility would enhance learning, bring growth and development and make them become useful in life.
Findings by The Guardian revealed there is no government presence yet in the community since the people returned from ‘exile’, no health facility, no good market, no electricity.
It was discovered that the construction of the two secondary school blocks which consists of 12 class rooms, two principal offices, two staff rooms, two secretary office and 14 toilets gulped N91 million.
Speaking, the Rumuekpe Clan Advisory Committee in NDPR, Mr. Harrison Woke said the presence of the project in Rumuekpe would confirm to the state government that absolute peace has returned to the area.
He said: “This gesture will challenge the three ties of government, the local, state and Federal to begin to site projects in the area including provisions of strong I.C.T base and functional libraries”
He lauded NDPR for its unflinching support and commitment to developing the area and keeping the terms in its MOU. We hope that more micro projects in the area would improve the living conditions of the rural dwellers and decongest the urban areas.”
The Head Community Relations and Security of NDPR, Alh Buba Umaru, told The Guardian that the project is the beginning of good things in Rumuekpe.
He said, despite the crisis that rocked the area, the firm has been working peacefully with the community stating, “we understand that the people are distressed, so we try as much as we can to meet their needs step by step even though, we cannot meet all in one day.”
Umaru said, the project has marked the end of squatting with other students for Rumuekpe children and youths.
It was gathered that the construction of the facility was awarded in 2012 but was delayed due to security challenges. However, the contract was re-awarded to another indigenous company from Rumuekpe; the Owadiegwu multi services in December 2017, and five months after, the project was set for commissioning.
The Chairman, NDPR Board of Trustees, Chief Chambers Oyibo, expressed delight that the children now have a decent academic environment, noting that the provision of the infrastructure would promote learning and generate the much needed human capital that would make rapid development of Rumuekpe community.
He said, in line with the policy trust of the firm, Rumuekpe community conceived the project; the contractor retained by them, the community also supervised the execution of the project while the Trust provided the fund and the direction.
According to him: “To enable the people who were displaced by the conflict in Rumuekpe return and rebuild their homes, we provided roofing sheets worth N29.5m between 2011 to 2012”
“The construction of the two secondary school blocks cost N91m, purchase of furniture for the school cost N4.4m, bursary awards 1420 students from Rumuekpe community in tertiary institutions between 2010 and 2017 cost N71m. “Skills acquisition grant to 1349 youths for the acquisition of skills of their choice between 2010 and 2017 cost N40.4m and medical aid grant to 756 elders between 2010 and 2017 cost N15.1m, empowerment grant to 30 women cost N3m million”
He thanked the management of NDPR for implementing the Trust for their host communities, saying they have done what others could not do in once deserted community.
Also, over 10 locked-up shops were commissioned at Obua/Odual Local Government Area of the state by the firm.
The Chairman, Board of Trustees noted that about 183 elders in the area have benefited from its medical grants, 10 grants to women empowerment adding that the firm has also assisted in ensuring peace and security in the area.
At Ahoada East Local council, two major road projects are ongoing while a civic centre was rehabilitated and a school facility was earlier donated to the people.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Felix Odungwuru, lauded the firm for the gesture, calling on other companies to emulate NDPR.
He also advocated for a proper maintenance of the facilities. The Chairman, Council of traditional rulers in Rumuekpe community, Eze Daniel Orji, said the project would enhance reunification and reintegration of the people.
He said, the facility shows that peace has finally returned to the area and called for government’s attention in the community.
The women who had protested nude on December 2010 over the crisis that engulfed the community were seen dancing, celebrating and hugging one another for the return of peace.
The youths were also not left out, they sang and gyrated in happiness, saying they were glad to experience normal life again.
The Youth leader, Emmanuel Woke, said the project would increase human capital development and make more young people become productive and contribute to the growth of the community, the state and nation at large.