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Communique Issued At The End Of A Meeting Of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta Stakeholders, Held On Sunday, 21st July, 2019 At Oguta Civic Centre, Oguta

Source: Dr. Walter Duru

Introduction
A Stakeholders meeting of Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta Local Government Areas was held at Oguta Civic Centre, Oguta, on Sunday, 21st July, 2019. The meeting was at the instance of the Deputy Governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Gerald Alphonsus Irona, with support from the Chairmen, Transition Committees of Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta Local Government Areas, as well as the Management of Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC).

Deputy Governor, Gerald Irona addressing the audience during the meeting

The objective of the meeting was to brief stakeholders on recent developments within and outside the state, as they affect the oil producing communities of Imo State. It was also aimed at understanding the activities, programmes and policies of the present administration in the state, led by the Governor of Imo State, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, while getting instant feedback from the citizens on their thoughts. The meeting is in line with the present administration’s policy of effective citizens’ participation, through periodic dialogue.

Traditional Rulers of Oguta and Ohaji/Egbema

Observations
Participants observed that:
§ The decision of the Governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha to choose one of their own, Rt. Hon. Gerald Irona as his Deputy Governor has endeared him to the people of the area.

§ The present administration of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha is on track in the manner it is handling issues concerning the oil producing areas of the state.

§ The two oil producing local government areas (Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta) of Imo state have been in darkness - without electricity supply for over eight (8) years now.

§ The Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission-ISOPADEC and Adapalm Nigeria Limited were grossly mismanaged for about eight years.

§ That they are pleased that the Deputy Governor, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Gerald Irona, is gender sensitive in his appointments but urged him to consider more women for appointments, to deepen the gender spread.

§ That cult-related violence and other forms of insecurity are among the factors hindering development in the areas.

§ That the political class contributed to the challenge of insecurity in Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta areas of Imo State.

§ That for the first time in eight (8) years, ISOPADEC and our two local governments received their full statutory funds from the state government for June, 2019. They expressed optimism the trend would continue.

§ That there is a grand plan by some persons outside Imo State to deny the state her God-given right of producing the next Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

§ That the full page advertorial on page 26 of Vanguard newspapers of July 17, 2019 is one of such steps aimed at distorting facts and misleading the Federal Government into acting in error on NDDC appointments.

§ Citizens pay little or no attention to the protection of public infrastructure in their areas.

§ The stakeholders noted the pervading issues of herdsmen and farmers clashes in our areas.

Participants seated during the meeting

Recommendations
The following recommendations were made:

  1. Stakeholders of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta resolved to wholeheartedly support and see to the overall success of the present administration of the Governor, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha.
  2. That the steps taken by the Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Gerald Irona to engage the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), with a view to restoring power supply in Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta are commendable. Efforts should be intensified to realize this, within the shortest possible time.
  3. That the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC) and oil producing Local Government areas (Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta) should go into partnership with the multinational oil companies operating in the state, with a view to commencing the construction of a gas turbine that can supply power to people of the area.
  4. Imo State Government should make haste to influence the completion of all ongoing power-related projects in the state.
  5. The Stakeholders also resolved that ISOPADEC and the two local governments of Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta should consider and embark on joint funding of projects, in the best interests of the people of the oil producing communities.
  6. Stakeholders thanked the Executive Governor, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha for commencing enquiry and forensic audit into the management of ISOPADEC and Adapalm Nigeria Limited, which they considered necessary in order to reveal the circumstances surrounding the obvious mismanagement of these agencies for nearly a decade. They further urged the Governor to ensure that whoever that is involved in the mismanagement of ISOPADEC and Adapalm in the last eight years, no matter how highly placed, be made to face the wrath of the law.

vii. Stakeholders opined that the Government of Imo State should take radical, but immediate steps to tackle the menace of cultism and every other form of violent crime in the two Oil producing Local Government Areas and the state in general.

viii.The political class and all other persons concerned must desist from encouraging criminality in any form in the area or be made to face the wrath of the law.

  1. That a disarmament programme is implemented, with a view to ensuring that fire arms in the hands of wrong persons are recovered by the government, in the spirit of the prevailing amnesty programme.
  2. Stakeholders requested the State Government to arrange with the security agencies to effectively protect farmers and their crops by warning herdsmen to desist from brazenly ravaging our farmlands (which is our mainstay), in order to forestall a situation where our people would be forced to resort to self-help with obvious implications.
  3. Stakeholders commended the State Government for restoring people’s confidence in Local Government administration in the state, particularly through the release of statutory funds of the Local Governments, as well as those of ISOPADEC, calling on the State Governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha to sustain same.

Members of the High Table standing for prayers during the meeting

xii. Participants urged citizens to participate in the business of governance, by holding the government accountable, while asking relevant questions.

xiii.Stakeholders resolved to refute the advertorial on page 26 of Vanguard newspapers, with the false claim that Imo State should not produce a Managing Director for the NDDC, with a view to putting the records straight.

xiv.Participants also resolved to explore other advocacy strategies to ensure that Imo State gets its rightful position in NDDC.

xv. The stakeholders urged citizens of the area to pay particular attention to the protection of public infrastructure in their areas.

xvi.The meeting gave special commendations to the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Rt. Hon. Gerald Irona for taking deliberate steps to ensure regular consultation with people of the area, particularly, on issues concerning them.

  1. Stakeholders thanked the Governor, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha for appointing people of the area into strategic positions in the state, even as they asked for more appointments.
  2. Participants thanked the Governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha for inheriting the Accountant General of the State, Mr. Donald Igbo, and the Head of Service of the State, Mrs. Ama Eluwa, and for reaffirming their appointments, urging him to retain them.

xix.Stakeholders resolved that the meeting holds quarterly, henceforth.

Signed

  1. Prof. Okee Okoro, Chairman, Communique drafting Committee
  2. Chike Walter Duru, Ph.D, Secretary, Communique drafting Committee
  3. Mr. Collins Ughalla, member, Communique drafting Committee
  4. Sir Mike Okiro, former Inspector General of Police
  5. Engr. John Otti, former Chairman, Presidential Taskforce on Power
  6. General Kalu Egwuagu (Rtd)
  7. Prof. Ike Azogu
  8. Hon. Hilary Eberendu, Chairman, Interim Management Committee, Oguta LGA
  9. Hon. Damian Ezeru, Chairman, Interim Management Committee, Ohaji/Egbema LGA

10. Engr. Anthony Okwuosha, Managing Director, Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission-ISOPADEC

11. Barr. Magnus Obido, Chairman, ISOPADEC Board.
12. H.R.H. Eze Emmanuel Assor