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By NBF News
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Elders of the Niger Delta Region under the auspices of Oil Mineral Producing Areas Landlords' Association of Nigeria (OMPALAN), met at Eagle Island, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, last weekend to appraise the security situation in host communities of the region.

Chairman, BoT, and National Leader of OMPALAN, Bishop Udo Azogu, said they 'have come to appraise the security situation in the Niger Delta region and find ways of assisting government security operatives to coordinate a lasting response to mounting insecurity in Nigeria with a view to sustaining the ongoing peace process in the region and creating a conducive investment climate for business to thrive.'

He said OMPALAN 'condemns the senseless killings of innocent Nigerians and foreigners alike across the Country by religious fundamentalists. Nigeria has robust democratic institutions of governance for aggrieved persons to seek redress. OMPALAN stands for the unity, peace, security, and stability of sovereign Nigeria and we must work cooperatively with security agencies to guarantee the inalienable right of every Nigerian irrespective of creed and tribe to live freely and do business in any part of the country without molestation.'

Azogu spoke on the proposed community governance in Imo State by the Rochas Okorocha administration which he said is in tandem with OMPALAN's Community Administration Council (CAC): 'We salute the introduction of community governance in Imo State by the Okorocha administration. This laudable initiative if properly designed and implemented will stimulate growth at the grassroots level and prepare the ground for a more coherent and virile administration that is better equipped to respond proactively to security threats in the state. It is desirable that this noble initiative be replicated in other oil producing states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

'Unfolding political events in the country especially on the issue of sustained agitation by the governors of northern states for the upward review of revenue allocation to their states are making it more imperative for oil producing state governors to come together under one functional umbrella like OMPALAN to build effective momentum to protect their constituencies from the vagaries of politics.

'The association welcomes the call for review of revenue allocation. However, the proposed review must be factored on concrete contributions by the federating units - starting from the constituent communities. This will engender competitiveness among the federating units and will also help to broaden the nation's quasi-monolithic economic base.

'Some states mostly from the North contribute immensely to food security in Nigeria. These states should work toward making agriculture a major foreign exchange earner to boost their revenue profile. Some States have substantial solid mineral deposits which must be exploited for enhanced productivity. The existing lopsided arrangement whereby certain states that contribute little or nothing to the centre continue to depend on the resources of other states and do nothing to develop their God-given resources is most unacceptable and only helps to slow down the overall growth pattern of the country.

'With these challenges in sight the leadership of this great organization should work hard to ensure that OMPALAN is effectively and equitably structured in oil producing states in accordance with the provisions of the association's constitution. State, LGA, and District Officers shall be only persons who will key into the OMPALAN vision in a sustainable manner and have the capability to deliver.

'OMPALAN parades high profile personalities in a wide spectrum of human, intellectual, and spiritual endeavours. A synthesis of these resources is what is needed to transform oil producing states into a competitive and prosperous economy. This organization will continue to support government effort by identifying dangerous gaps in governance and offering effective interface to domesticate popular policies of government and other development partners in host communities of oil producing states.'

Notable proponents of the rule of law in the region present included Chief Samuel Ezediaro, a former Head of Texaco Legal Department in Nigeria and Chairman, Finance Committee, OMPALAN; Prof Bob-Duru, National Coordinator, Project; Prof. Richard Olomo- Chairman, Youth Affairs Committee; Dr. Joe Akubeze- Special Adviser, Office of the Chairman, Governing Board; Chief Bassey Inyang, a retired Deputy Commissioner of Police and Chairman, OMPALAN, Cross River State; Sir. Elems Ogbowu-Chairman, OMPALAN, Rivers State; Chief Okon Ekpo Johnson, President, Ekit People's Union and Chairman, OMPALAN, Akwa Ibom State. They called on host communities to be security conscious and support President Goodluck Jonathan in his efforts to eradicate corruption and enthrone the rule of law in Nigeria.

National Chairman of OMPALAN, Prince Felix Obuah, who co-hosted the meeting promised to give unqualified support to the Rivers State chairman, Ogbowu to administer the affairs of the organization successfully in the state. National Secretary, Chief Arthur briefed members of the recent devastating oil spills by Shell and Chevron in Koloma and Bonga locations in Brass Local Government area of Bayelsa State. The meeting resolved to support government in fighting corruption and deepening good governance in the region.