It was indeed an exceptional day at Oghara, the country home of the ex-governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori. In Nigeria, the date is regarded as 'Democracy Day', but that was not the reason men, women and children of the community trooped out with the seven-letter word, ecstasy, graciously revealed on their faces, as they danced and made merry.
It was not also that a miracle happened overnight, which saw their well-known son, Chief Ibori, back to Nigeria from the United kingdom, where he is presently holed up in detention for money laundering and other charges. Nothing like that happened.
The source of their cheerfulness is the Nigerian Navy, which has its Logistics Command Headquarters in the community. What did the Nigerian Navy do to warrant such a celebration given what Ibori had done for the community? Vanguard Metro, VM, found out that the Navy Logistics Command Headquarters, Oghareki, in its little way of appreciating the peaceful disposition of the community towards the military establishment, decided, during the recent commemoration of the 55th anniversary of the Nigerian Navy, to provide the people with free medical services and community development projects, which included, a newly built brick walled incinerator and refuse collection materials.
The one-day free medical treatment covered a wide range of ailments with children being de-wormed children. Patients, including pregnant and nursing mothers were tested and treated for malaria parasites, typhoid, ulcer, etc, while people with severe cases were referred to the Navy Sick Bay for comprehensive treatment.
The colourful occasion was graced by Flag Officer Commanding, FOC, Navy Logistic Command, Oghara, Rear Admiral A.I. Oyagha, representative of the Chief of Naval Staff, CNS, Commodore Babatunde Egbedina, Unugbrogodo of Oghareki, Chief Monday Imagini; Unuevworo of Oghareki, Chief Michael Akpuma, Chief Manager Oshakpor, Chief Davidson Oghenekevwode, Mrs. Doris Efeturi, Divisional Police Officer, DPO, Oghara, CSP, Mama Sale Rigua, religious leaders, among others.s
What fascinated the people, by and large, is that it was not the state government or the local government that was rendering the services, but a military organisation. Business activities were virtually grounded in Oghara on that day. Gaily dressed market women were seen nodding away to the native tunes of Urhobo Opiri music, rendered by Prof. Johnson Adjan, while the men shook their legs and walking sticks in acknowledgement.
Chief of Naval Staff, CNS, who was represented by his Chief Security Officer, CSO, Commodore Babatunde Akintola Egbedina, in his opening address said: "What we are witnessing today is part of activities marking the Navy week, an event of the 55th anniversary of the Nigerian Navy. In Oghara some activities have been lined up by way of landmark, we saw the need to awaken the need for cleanliness, as we seek for a clean nation.
"We are interested in primary health care; we chose this venue (Oghara Market) because it is the meeting point of diverse people. If we can keep the market clean, then we have avoided the possibility of the spread of diseases. This donation may not be sufficient but it will help in reducing the waste management problem of the area.
"It is our hope that the people of this area will make judicious use of our donation, the free medical care is for the treatment of common ailments among the people, and it will go a long way in helping to keep a healthy nation".
Before inaugurating the community development projects, the Flag Officer Commanding, FOC, Navy Logistics Command, Oghara, Rear Admiral Oyagha cautioned the people on the need to sustain the projects and called on the authorities of the Ethiope West Local Government Council to explore avenues the Navy could render more support to the people.
Oyagha noted that the Navy in recognition of the peace it has been enjoying from the people, decided to give back to the society. He also revealed that the Navy was in a healthy discussion with the council leadership on identifying the priority needs of the people with a view to help in solving them.
He also said the gesture of the Navy was actually to challenge the council towards prompt response to people's need and sustenance of completed projects, and putting same to good use. The naval officer tasked Oghara people to adopt the concept of cleanliness, as waste management problems were oftentimes caused by individual habits.
In his brief response, Mr. Austine Emaduku, Head of Personnel Administration, Ethipoe West Council, thanked the Navy and promised that the projects would be sustained, assuring that the efforts of the Navy would not be in vain. He revealed that the council has mapped out a comprehensive daily sanitation programmes to kick off shortly.
Responding on behalf of the community, Chief Monday Imagini, the Unugbrogodo (traditional prime minister) of Oghareki said: "We are thankful to the Navy; I want all my people to troop out to benefit from the free medical care. Until people break down, they don't know what is wrong with them. We want more good projects like these in our community and we also plead that unemployed youths should be recruited into the Navy to solve the unemployment crisis."
Earlier, president of the National Traders Association, Delta Chapter , Chief (Mrs.) Doris Efeturi, stated: "We feel good about the gesture of the Navy, we like them and want them to continue to stay with us; we will do all we can to ensure that they stay here forever. We also appeal to them to continue with the good works they have started". Commenting on the gesture, 90-year-old Pa Frank Ogede said the Navy did a great job by providing the free medical for the people, adding: "We want this free medical care all the time; I thank the Navy, they have done a great thing today, we want them to continue to stay". A housewife, Mrs. Ochuko Amrasavwore, who collaborated his position asserted: "I am happy at what the Navy has done, the Police has never done this for us. I am glad my son has been de-wormed free for me. This is how we are supposed to be living with them (navy), though they are uniform people".
A pregnant woman, Mrs. Dupe Ejiro said: "I am happy, any good person will appreciate this privilege; I was tested free and given treatment by their doctor. It has saved me a great deal of stress; the money I would have used to buy drugs is saved. I pray that God will bless them because before now, I thought they are only good at battle, I never knew they still like people."