STAR FEAT Between Rido comm and Kaduna Refinery
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.
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