Society for Community Development (SCD) is an Abuja based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) which has worked for over a decade in rural communities in the FCT and other states in Nigeria. In this interview with the CEO of SCD, Mr. Apoede Atsegbua, he urged the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to improve healthcare delivery and build roads in the rural areas. Excerpts:
With your experience working in villages, what would you say are the major challenges of people living at that level of the society in the FCT?
There are several challenges confronting the rural people, not just in the FCT, but across Nigeria. There are rural communities in the FCT which do not have clinics at all. There are some who have, but in some cases, the facilities are empty or they do not have the requisite personnel to man them. What the people need in some of these health facilities are things like delivery beds, suction machine; just basic things that you need in the hospital, especially, for women who are coming for antenatal, and women who are coming for delivery. It is very important because, sometimes, you’ll find out that a woman wants to deliver at night, there is no vehicle to transport this woman from the village to the city centre. Another problem with health issues is that even when there are emergencies at night, the roads are so bad, some communities are disconnected from other communities because of the deplorable roads. In some communities maybe the bridge is bad, in others, especially, during the rainy season, the road becomes muddy, and some communities are even cut off from the city centre. And this takes me to the issue of roads, government should focus on roads, and when am talking about roads, you’ll find out that some government focus on constructing roads only in the city centre. What happens to the rural communities? We should ensure that there are roads connecting our rural communities with the cities. I want to emphasize that the FCT and all the states in Nigeria, development of a state or local government is not only construction of roads. We have the health sector, we have education, we have agriculture, why is it only roads? And if we are to construct roads, it should not be only in city centres but in rural communities also. Go to Kuje area council right now, the road from Tipper Garage to Gaube is not motorable. The road from Tipper Garage through Kuje main town to Gwagwalada is full of potholes and they are increasing by the day this rainy season.
What would you advise the FCTA to do, especially in the area of health, for residents of the rural areas?
What we want the government to do which is very key is, government should build every rural community a primary health centre, not just a beautiful building but should have the basic facilities every primary health should have.
The communities should also benefit from our annual budget because our recourses are just going to the state capitals alone. Building roads and houses in the state capitals is not the only function of government. We are saying and we are re-emphasising that from 2019 every government should focus on developing the rural communities in every part of Nigeria. The minister of FCT, should please move development to rural communities and we also want to appeal to him to partner with non-government organisations like ours that have done so much for rural people so that more can be done. We have built a hospital in Kwali, schools in Kuje and we have given boreholes to over 30 communities in the FCT and we have empowered farmers with tools and training.
What challenges do you, as an organisation, encounter working in the rural communities?
Like I earlier said, the challenge of accessing the hinterlands is a huge one.I also would like to add that what some companies in Nigeria are doing is not corporate social responsibility, they are only marketing their products and their services. A situation where you have a multinational company that makes billons of naira and millions of dollars annualy, then the company at the end of the year will buy 5 beds and donate to a hospital and they call that corporate social responsibility?. A situation where you find all these companies making billons of naira from our country at the end of the year they go and produce branded school bags they go to one or two primary schools and donate the school bags and they’ll put it in the papers that they are supporting Nigeria, they are not supporting Nigeria that is not corporate social responsibility, they are only marketing their products and services. So our advice to these companies is that they should do the needful, if you are doing corporate social responsibility you should build a hospital.