The road to Amatolo in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State is bumpy and dusty. The road, constructed through self-efforts of the people, is passable only during the dry season. During the rains, the people of Amatolo and adjoining communities resort to the use of boats to reach their kith and kin in the affected communities. However, the bumpy road is not the only source of worry to the people.
The community lacks functional health facilities. Many narrated their harrowing experiences in trying to get medical care, either, in Oporoma, only accessible by the water, or Amassoma, accessible by road during dry season, and water during rainy season.
But luck smiled on them recently, as members of the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity), in line with ‘Humanistic Ideal’, which according to the coordinator of its medical mission, Mr. Timothy Egbonoje, is part of the four cardinal points of the Pyrates Confraternity, decided to carry out a free medical outreach at the community town hall, Amatolo.
It was an ample opportunity for the people, young and old, females and males, chiefs and their subjects to access medical care. About 500 people were at the community town hall, trying to treat various ailments. Sadly, however, they were unable to meet their health needs as the Health Centre in the community had remained under lock and key.
Egbonoje told the paramount ruler, Amananowei, King Hanson Orubiri in his palace, that from contributions from its members, NAS decided to carry out the medical outreach because of the peculiar terrain in Amatolo. He said the idea was to choose a rural community in the state and mobilise medical personnel to given adequate medical care to the people.
He explained that in time past, NAS visited Obogboro in Yenagoa LGA, Otuoke in Ogbia LG, Kaiama and Opokuma in Kolokuma/ Opokuma LG and Nembe in Nembe LG.
Orubiri commended NAS for selecting Amatolo for free medical outreach. He described it as timely, given the inadequate medical care available to the people, due to poverty and lack of functional health centre. The monarch appealed to the government to focus attention on the health sector to help the people.
In an interview the state chairman of NAS, Mr. Oluwafemi Folaranmi said NAS, Bayelsa State chapter, remained committed to the visions of its International President, Mr. Arthur Boje, to step up its advocacy campaigns, as well as concentrate on the rural areas, to make meaningful impact.
He disclosed that it was in the bid to follow the footsteps of Boje that the national executive designed programmes to ensure that Bayelsans feel the impact of NAS, especially the rural communities:
“Today, we, members of Pyrates' Confraternity have come to Amatolo community to carry out a free medical mission. This free medical mission falls under one of our compass points, ‘Humanistic Ideals.’ Several communities in Nigeria have benefitted from NAS medical mission.
“In Bayelsa, five communities, including residents of Bakassi camp, have benefitted from the medical mission. It is the vision of our International President, Mr. Arthur Boje, that we step up our advocacy campaigns, and we in Bayelsa State chapter have keyed into his vision and we are using this medical mission, and other programmes to ensure we reach the rural areas and bring positive impact into their lives.”
“You can see that we are here with a full complement of medical personnel, and they are ready to provide adequate medical care for the people, for the duration of this medical mission. It is from members that the funds for this medical mission were raised because in the Pyrates Confraternity, providing help such as this to these indigent people is a thing we do with joy.
“The number of people you are seeing here is a pointer that there is a gap in the provision of health care for the people of this community. We are made to understand that there is no functional health care system and this is saddening.”
Chief Ologidi commended NAS for the quality drugs and the medical personnel deployed for the health programme: “We have seen the efforts of NAS. They have really tried. They have come here on a free medical mission. Our people have been given drugs and treated.
“We appeal to other humanitarian organisations to emulate NAS, and help the rural people in the area of medical delivery. As you can see for yourself, our people are happy. You can see many with smiles on their faces.”
King Orubiri stated that NAS, by the gesture has set the pace in Amatolo community, for government and other organisations to follow. According to him, such intervention by organisations has never taken place in Amatolo community before:
“I am really impressed with NAS. I am quite appreciative of the efforts of NAS. What government has not done, NAS is doing it. The impact of this medical mission is far reaching, the people are happy as you can see for yourselves. They have received drugs for various ailments, children have been treated and the elderly ones got drugs, too. It goes to show that with organisations, such as NAS, there is hope for Nigeria.”
By Femi Folaranmi, Yenegoa
Sun News Online
March 21st, 2017