By Tony Obi
The Oil and Solid Mineral Producing Areas Landlords’ Association of Nigeria (OMPALAN), has asserted that the root causes of instability in the Niger Delta region stem largely from negligence of oil producing companies to deliver on their corporate social responsibility (CSR) to impacted communities. The national leader and chairman of OMPALAN’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Bishop Udo Azogu, disclosed that the environmental committee of OMPALAN “is therefore working hard to develop a blue-print that will effectively insulate communities from painful environmental impacts and make defaulting producing companies pay heavily for negligence.”
He spoke at the interactive meeting on peace and security by the leaders of the Niger Delta region in Oguta, Imo State, recently. He said with the youths of the region contributing to the peace process, “the ball is now in the court of the Federal Government to respond with the utmost care aware that this golden opportunity if not properly handled might be elusive in the future.
“Government must cash in on the prevailing political lull in the Niger Delta to give attention to oil producing communities and remove the lingering peace process definitively from limbo. It is the expressed view of OMPALAN that the Federal Government acts with circumspection on the issue of allocation of oil blocs to avoid the collapse of the hard-earned peace process.”
Azogu said for democracy to thrive, Nigerians must accept and cooperate “with anybody who emerges victorious through a democratic process because political parties are mere platforms to pursue legitimate political interests. We must look beyond the shores of Nigeria and work competitively to achieve parity of status with successful economies across the globe.
“I wish to appeal to aggrieved individuals and organizations in Imo State especially those contending with Governor Rochas Okorocha to allow peace to reign as the governor has excelled in transforming the state in the area of infrastructural development. Even the blind can feel the impact of the wonderful works done by the Okorocha administration in road construction, free education, security of life and property and rural transformation.
“Okorocha like any other governor in Nigeria obviously has his dark side but he also has his bright side. People talk of the governor as if he has not done anything good in Imo State. Okorocha is a humble man who does not engage in vendetta to deal with his opponents but accepts criticism in good faith contrary to past administrations where political opponents were viciously hunted for expressing contrary views to the position of the establishment.”
He disclosed that, “OMPALAN has developed a blue-print for sustainable peace and development of oil and solid mineral producing communities which we intend to present to the Presidency as our quota towards peace, security, stability and development of the region. Our blue-print places high premium on monitoring and strengthening the delivery mechanism of palliative programs from source to target communities. It provides the safeguard that prevents subversive security operatives at the nations oil fields and other influential Nigerians from abetting in crude oil theft.
“There must be clear separation of power among the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. It is our humble contention that President Muhammadu Buhari must accommodate the opposition and shun overtures to use his elevated office to settle political scores. The opposition parties must live above board and must be seen to be working genuinely for the good of the country.
“The anti-graft agencies such as the ICPC, EFCC and the Nigeria Police should be granted autonomy status to carry out their constitutional functions without encumbrances. The anti-graft war must be supported by Nigerians and pursued vigorously to a logical conclusion. The nation’s democratic institutions of governance must operate above every individual or group.
“OMPALAN passionately appeals to governors of oil producing states to respect the laws establishing 13 percent oil derivation fund commission and adopt policies that will create wealth in vulnerable and impacted oil producing communities. We also call on the National Assembly to fast track the PIB in order to foster greater transparency in the oil industry.
“The good people of the Niger Delta region wish to use this medium to commend Buhari for bringing peace and order in the war-torn Northern Nigeria and recovering territories captured by insurgents. OMPALAN is ready to partner with government and other development agencies to create the much desired conducive investment climate in the Niger Delta region.”
Imo State facilitator of OMPALAN, Chief Sam Ezediaro, said the meeting was “timely and reassuring in view of the growing need to support the effort of government in restoring constitutional peace and order in the embattled region to facilitate critical development goals that will bring sustainable succour to the common man.
“I enjoin the cream of distinguished personalities here present to help in moulding the society in your respective domains to embrace values that will make Nigeria peaceful, great and competitive within the comity of nation
“It is my desire that both the ruling party and opposition parties at all levels of governance work together as partners in progress and as a people bound together by a common destiny. The issue of security requires the cooperation of every law-abiding citizen of this country irrespective of party affiliation because insecurity does not differentiate between political parties.”
National Environmental Secretary of OMPALAN, Chief George Bucknor spoke among others on the need for effective compliance and implementation of the various environmental extant local and global regulatory laws concerning environmental sustainable development regulatory laws, and international treaties ratified by Nigeria.
The meeting of leaders of Niger Delta urged the Federal Government to implement decisions of modular refineries; called for a time frame for relocation of multinational oil companies to areas of operation; and the needs assessment for distinct oil producing states.