STAR FEAT Be­tween Rido comm and Kaduna Re­fin­ery

Daily Trust - - DIGEST -

Dan­juma Isah, 47, looked in­con­solably an­gry as he squeezed out words to re­spond to what ev­i­dently sounded to him as the most dis­dain­ful ques­tion.

Like most other res­i­dents, ques­tions bor­der­ing on the cur­rent state of de­vel­op­ment at Rido al­ways deepen the grief and pains in­flicted in him by, ac­cord­ing to him, the decades-old de­plorable state of the com­mu­nity he proudly calls his an­ces­tral home.

For most of the res­i­dents of the over 200 years old Rido, their com­mu­nity seems con­demned to ne­glect and de­pri­va­tion in vi­tal as­pects of de­vel­op­ment, in sharp con­trast to what it ought to be as the clos­est set­tle­ment to the Kaduna Re­fin­ing and Petro­chem­i­cal Com­pany (KRPC), a sub­sidiary of the Nige­rian Na­tional Petroleum Cor­po­ra­tion (NNPC), the coun­try’s main money maker.

“Lo­cat­ing a re­fin­ery here has de­vel­oped nothing in Rido com­mu­nity other than grief and pains. No road, no water, no elec­tric­ity. We should have all these for be­ing the clos­est to the re­fin­ery. But they have only built a toi­let for us. Is a toi­let all we need? Is this not a mock­ery?” Dan­juma queried an­grily.

Rido vil­lage, a rus­tic set­tle­ment in Chikun Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of Kaduna State, is in­deed the clos­est com­mu­nity to the KRPC.

For op­er­at­ing be­low 10 per­cent ca­pac­ity uti­liza­tion within the last one year, KRPC earned N16 bil­lion rev­enue, ac­cord­ing to NNPC’s April 2016 fi­nan­cial re­port. When the com­pany op­er­ated at op­ti­mum ca­pac­ity, it churned out many more bil­lions of petro-naira for the Nige­ria.

How­ever, the res­i­dents of the com­mu­nity claim that lit­tle of those bil­lions have trick­led down to Rido in the form of so­cial ameni­ties by the re­fin­ery in ful­fill­ment of its cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity to the com­mu­nity.

They claim that the state of road net­works in the com­mu­nity is ter­ri­ble and elec­tric­ity sup­ply, er­ratic. Clean water is a rare com­mod­ity. When­ever the re­fin­ery is op­er­at­ing, no­body breathes fresh air in Rido.

Glob­ally, com­mu­ni­ties that host sim­i­lar gi­gan­tic plants tend to be en­vied. A nearby ex­am­ple is Bonny com­mu­nity, Rivers State where the Nige­ria Liq­ue­fied Nat­u­ral Gas (NLNG) plant, one of Nige­ria’s biggest in­vest­ments in the oil in­dus­try, is sited. Presently in Bonny, elec­tric­ity sup­ply is con­stant. The NLNG plant is said to have pro­vided the en­tire Bonny com­mu­nity with un­in­ter­rupted power sup­ply, in ad­di­tion to good roads, hospi­tals and schools.

In sharp con­trast, how­ever, Rido res­i­dents com­plain of wal­low­ing in un­told hard­ship char­ac­ter­ized by crum­bling health­care, mis­er­able ed­u­ca­tion ser­vices, bad roads and un­safe drink­ing water for decades.

The com­mu­nity por­trays a vivid im­age of poverty and mis­ery. Many of the house­holds live in the con­stant shadow of poi­sonous smoke bil­low­ing out of the re­fin­ery.

Dashed hopes

In 1975 when KRPC was estab­lished Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari was the then min­is­ter of petroleum as a mil­i­tary colonel and prime mover of the project. This, ac­cord­ing to the res­i­dents of Rido, beamed rays of hope on a com­mu­nity in dire need of de­vel­op­ment to join the ranks of sis­ter com­mu­ni­ties host­ing such com­pa­nies.

KRPC management re­called that proper steps were fol­lowed and per­ti­nent cri­te­ria were met in terms of land ac­qui­si­tion be­fore the plant was built.

The Min­istry of Lands and Sur­vey then em­barked on the enu­mer­a­tion of the occupants of the land which was sparsely pop­u­lated. The larger por­tion of the land where re­fin­ery was to be sited was, at that time, farm­land.

The management said the own­ers of the land were iden­ti­fied and com­pen­sated ac­cord­ingly be­fore the gov­ern­ment went ahead with the project. The com­pen­sa­tion for the land was done based on farm­lands with crops and economic trees.

Luka Makama, an el­der in the vil­lage, how­ever com­plained that he was paid a pal­try N300 as com­pen­sa­tion for his large farm­land.

As pop­u­la­tion swelled over­time, over­stretch­ing scarce ameni­ties, KRPC seemed to have be­lieved that it had no other re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, be­liev­ing that it had jus­ti­fi­ably com­pen­sated all the locals.

Tayo Olawuyi, who said he had been liv­ing in the com­mu­nity for 24 years, com­plained that due to the lack of clean water sources, dwellers are com­pelled to drink from wells. Naomi M. Kan­toma, a mother of four, also com­plained: “We find it dif­fi­cult to ac­cess clean water. The only avail­able means of water is the well, and water from the well is usu­ally not safe for con­sump­tion. When­ever we scoop twice from it, the water turns red with mud and other par­ti­cles. After the third scoop, we must keep the water for some time for the dirty par­ti­cles to sed­i­ment be­fore we can cook with it or drink it,” she said. Rido in­di­genes dis­agree with the re­fin­ery management over the state of de­vel­op­ment in the com­mu­nity. There are also dis­agree­ments among the vil­lagers over who con­structed the com­mu­nity’s only health cen­tre and pri­mary school now over­taken by heaps of refuse. “The school that you see was not con­structed by the re­fin­ery but by the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment. We have a hos­pi­tal but it was built by the lo­cal gov­ern­ment.” Dan­juma Isah said.

An­other res­i­dent, Pas­tor Kan­toma Musa, said he had lived in Rido for ten years but he was aware that only a toi­let was built by the re­fin­ery; nothing more.

Mon­day S. Adamu, a youth in the vil­lage, dif­fered com­pletely with many of hi fel­low vil­lagers.

Adamu said, “They (the re­fin­ery) have pro­vided water and built schools and skill ac­qui­si­tion cen­tre”

He said he has been a ca­sual staff of the re­fin­ery for the past six years, adding that youths from other com­mu­ni­ties close to the re­fin­ery such as Sabon Tasha, Narayi and Ung­wan Romi have ben­e­fit­ted from sim­i­lar op­por­tu­ni­ties.

How­ever, in­de­pen­dent find­ings re­vealed facts con­trary to Adamu’s claims.

Rido’s only pri­mary health cen­ter was built jointly by the state gov­ern­ment and for­eign pri­vate donors. Even the sign­post to the cen­tre was do­nated by youth corps mem­bers.

The vil­lagers said they travel to Kaduna city to get med­i­cal at­ten­tion in spe­cial­ist hospi­tals be­cause the cen­tre is ille­quipped.

The tra­di­tional head of the com­mu­nity, Sarkin Rido, Al­haji Hamisu Haruna, dif­fered com­pletely from the teem­ing pop­u­la­tion of his ag­grieved sub­jects,

Chil­dren draw water from a bole­hole drilled by KRPC

Sarkin Rido Alh. Hamisu Haruna

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