FG moves to restore peace in Imo oil communities
As state spends N65million monthly on security
Worried by the increasing menace of violence in the oil bearing communities in Oguta, and Ohaji/ Egbema Local Councils, the Federal Government has intervened with a view to restoring peace among the contending parties.
In this regard, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, recently led a delegation to a peace meeting with stakeholders in the affected communities comprising, oil companies operating in the area, youths, traditional rulers, and representatives of groups in the affected communities.
Kachikwu disclosed that the Federal Government is keen on long lasting solution, and expressed optimism that the effort would yield results, as stakeholders set up a committee to resolve all nutty issues.
He said: “Oil will not be an asset in the next 30 years. So, the host communities should maximise their benefits now, and put it to proper use, and oil companies must start negotiating with the host communities and the government to know exactly what they need as part of their corporate responsibilities.”
Speaking during the meeting which held at the Government House, Owerri, the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, blamed the oil companies for allegedly fuelling the crisis in the host communities. He also accused them of encouraging “factionalisation and cult activities among the youths and stakeholders.”
This comes as the Governor claimed the state expends about N65million monthly on security personnel, to maintain peace in the crisis host communities.
He also recalled that “the Federal Government made promises to Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta, when the Vice President came here, which are yet to be fulfilled. I spoke with him and he promised that something is going to be done. I hope something will be done immediately.”
Okorocha also drew attention to an abandoned skills acquisition centre in Ohaji/Egbema, saying: “we agreed with the Federal Government to turn it into a University of Science and Technology, but as at my last discussion with the Vice President, we agreed that it should be turned into a University of Agriculture. That will help our people instead of allowing that completed huge project to be abandoned.”
On the 330MW Gas Plant sited in the area, the Governor said it was wrongly contracted, leading to its delay for seven years, adding that
“…it is a monumental waste, as over $740million had been wasted, yet they cannot produce one light bulb. So, I have asked the Federal Government to allow the State take over the plant.”
A former Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu, speaking on behalf of the Imo Economic Development Initiative, urged the Federal Government to expunge all the encumbrances and bottlenecks militating against the State Government from taking over the Power Plant sited in Egbema.
He argued that the State had the capacity to attract investors to complete the project, adding that the Industrial Park, required only a seal of validation from the Federal Government and not cash.
One of the traditional ruker present, Eze Emmanuel Assor flayed the oil companies for not upholding their corporate social responsibilities, calling for a change in attitude.
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