Kokodiagbene: A Delta oil producing community where natives fund school

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A pupil of Kokodiagbene primary school spotted fetching water from the community well, the only source of drinking water for the community.

By Badmus Shina & Godbless Motiola

In this report, GbaramatuVoice exposes that Kokodiagbene, an oil producing community in Delta state, is bereft of drinkable water, electricity, hospital; and natives fund only secondary school in the community.

Kokodiagbene is known for fishing and farming. This Ijaw community in Gbaramatu Kingdom of Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, is blessed with different cultural heritages that attract their sons and daughters from far and near during each of the festivals.

A pupil of Kokodiagbene primary school spotted fetching water from the community well, the only source of drinking water for the community. (Photo by Godbless Motiola, GbaramatuVoice).

Apart from making the ends meet and holding their cultural heritages with the funfair they deserve, the people of Kokodiagbene are a peace-loving people. Their peaceful dispositions earned them award for peace in 1996, by Chevron Nigeria Limited.

Being an ancient community without division among them, Kokodiagbene is host to many oil multinationals that include Chevron Nigeria Limited and Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), inter alia.

When GbaramatuVoice reporters visited this community, one thing was sacrosanct: The community is richly blessed with natural resources. It is rich with crude oil.

Abandoned borehole in Kokodiagbene community

But checks revealed that the community and her people do not sing ‘Hosanna in the Highest’ as their case might be likened to the biblical prodigal son who ate crumbs in the midst of affluence. There is no presence of electricity, drinkable water, qualitative education, healthcare facilities, amongst others.

For instance, Kokodiagbene Secondary School is the only boarding school in Gbaramatu Kingdom. This school that was supposed to be richly equipped sadly has no drinkable water, electricity, qualified teachers and other basic amenities.

The hostel is not even good to house beasts. The laboratories are bereft of practical equipment. Dust and cockroaches have become the occupants of the laboratory.

When our reporter encountered one of the school prefects who declined to give his name in print, he said the number of teachers operating the school is doing their best in propagating the school not to hit the rocks with nothing or little resources in place.

According to the source, “We have no constant power supply. In our laboratory there is no equipment for students to practice and it is really affecting our science studies.

“If the government could intervene and ensure the provision of electricity, books and laboratory equipment, I believe education in this riverine school would be sweeter and more interesting.”

The Principal of the school, Mr. Ozugbo Pius narrated how he moved to the community in 2016, as a founding member of the school.

“I came as a Vice Principal of this school and since then I have been working with the community to see to the development of the school.

“I’m one of the pioneers of the school and was made the principal, after staying in the school for two years,” Pius said.

Speaking on the community, Pius added, “The community is a very friendly one and the executives of the community always work hand-in-hand with the school to see to its proper development.”

He went further, “Some challenges in this community include shortage of teachers, especially science teachers. The school also needs constant electricity.

“The electricity we are having in this area only comes in the evening, between 6pm to 8am. And during this time, the school has closed for the day to make use of the electricity.”

At Ebiabu Primary School, Kokodiagbene, a teacher by name Ugen Ufioma said she has been a teacher for over one year, and the educational system is very backward in this school.

“I am of the view that the authorities should help improve the system by liaising with leaders of the community to ensure that books and other educational materials are in place,” Ufioma said, pointing out that “the burden is too much on teachers to pay huge sums as fare to the school without any incentive being given to them.”

The Secretary Kokodiagbene Community, Hon. Jackson Timiyan reaffirmed to GbaramatuVoice that Kokodiagbene Community is a peace-loving community, commonly called by its admirers, ‘home of peace and hospitality’; but this peaceful disposition has not really paid off from government as well as the oil companies.

According to Timiyan, “The community is host to Otunana Chevron Flow Station and the single largest oil fields in the whole of West Africa; that is Jones creek flow station with over 50 well heads.

“It is a community that is densely populated with well over 8,000 people and it has a primary and secondary school which is the only secondary school with a boarding house in Delta State as much as I know. And the students there are well over 300 with 200 boarding.”

Our reporter learnt that the community has often played its part funding the school. According to the source, “This is not because we have so much; it is just because we have interest in education.”

Timiyan described the situation of the community as an eyesore, looking at the companies within its domain. Much was expected but yet the community is wretched, undeveloped with no healthcare, no water, no electricity. But Chevron Nigeria Limited flow station at Otunana, just a stone throw away, drills oil in this community, makes revenue in the process, provides it arsenal of employees with good drinkable water but has failed to do same for the community they make money from.

The lack of drinkable water and other essential amenities have exposed the residents to different ailments.

A community health worker, Tomson Blessing said he came to the community for this reason to build a clinic in 2009, and did it so he could take care of the locals.

According to him, “I am a private worker and the facility here was built by me to help provide medical assistance to the people of Kokodiagbene community.

Inside view of the only community private clinic

“I built this clinic in the year 2009; it is not government owned. As you may have observed, the community does not have a health centre and so I had to do something to change that narrative.

“But handling a health centre alone for a full community has been quite challenging. Although, I was able to put up the structure, but getting required instrument and equipment has become a challenge.”

He narrated that he hasn’t gotten any support from anybody, organization or government and so the building is in a deplorable state; no medical facilities, the roof is licking, the beds are old and unusable, and the woods are eaten up. In fact the building needs complete renovation.

There are series of abandoned projects in the community and one stands out: shell medical centre that has been abandoned for over forty years. The health centre has different departments. It has a mortuary, hospital, doctors and nurse quarter; yet no attempt by the company to finish the project.

A member of Kokodiagbene community, who simply gave his name as Mr. Gospel, described the situation as terrible.

According to him, “This is one of the abandoned projects in the community. This project which is a shell project and was supposed to be a medical facility, but as you can see, it was built to a level and then, abandoned.”

For the Executive Chairman of Kokodiagbene Community, Hon. Powede Uyadonghan, “The community has oil with oil companies operating in the area. Chevron Nigeria Limited, NNPC and Shell now NPDC are some of the multinationals in the region.

“But with all this, nothing is coming to the community, even when they start a project, they refuse to complete it.

“So as a community we are calling on the local, state and federal government, all relevant authorities, to come to our aid to ensure these multinationals carry out their cooperate social responsibilities.”