National President of the Oil and Solid Mineral Producing Areas Landlords’ Association (OMPALAN), Bishop Udo Azogu, has explained the rationale behind the establishment of the association, saying that it was meant to foster unity among diversed members irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds.
The OMPALAN leader, who spoke during the meeting of the group in Imo State on Friday, also stressed that the group was established to assist government at all levels and development partners
While urging members to always respect and submit to constituted authorities, he said this was necessary in order to maintain peace, tranquility “as well as protect the environment of impacted communities”.
OMPALAN leader appealed to members to accommodate herders and accept them as productive and integral part of the Imo society.
He told the gathering that herders were not limited to Fulani alome, saying Igbo also own large herds of cattle and operate huge business interests in the Northern part of the country, hence the need for peaceful co-existence among members.
Azogu, who also urged members to shun views that descrate other ethnic nationalities, promised to look into reported cases of marginalisation of host communities by multinational oil companies.
He also promised to look into the alleged diversion of 13% oil derivation fund by those he described as the political class and “report to the Presidency massive illegal oil bunkering by armed men in uniform”
Azogu, while congratulating governors-elect across the cou try, he charged them to accommodate constructive opposition “in our democratic governance.”
In order to facilitate peaceful co-existence between herders and host communities, a Committee for Peaceful Coexistence Between Herders and Host Communities (COPECOHH) was set up.
COPECOHH membership was drawn among the ethnic groups in the state, including Hausa, Fulani, Igbo and security operatives among others in the state.
Meanwhile, the Imo State chairman of the group, Prof. Emma Ugwulebo, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for supporting direct payment of local governments allocation to them, instead of through the state governments.