OSOPADEC parleys stakeholders on peace, security

ONDO State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (OSOPADEC), in collaboration with security agencies, has engaged the people, indigenes and stakeholders in a mutual and fruitful deliberation for the accelerated and sustainable development of the mandate areas.

The mandate areas of the commission, which was statutorily established in 2001 to cater for the areas by the government of late Chief Adebayo Adefarati, include mainly the Ilaje and Ese-Odo local councils of the state.

In his welcome address, the Chairman of the commission, Pastor Johnson Ogunyemi, expressed delight and happiness in the result-oriented forum attended by service chiefs of the Nigerian Army (NA), Nigerian Navy (NN), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), youths and pressure groups operating in the areas.

Others are the traditional rulers of the three broad kingdoms namely: Mahin, Ugbo and Aheri in Ilaje Local Council and the predominant Apoi and Ijaw royalties of the Ese-Odo Local Council.

Ogunyemi noted that the purpose of convoking the forum in such a critical moment “is to remind our people of the mandate areas of OSOPADEC on the need to treasure peace and collectively consolidate this onerous peace-building process in our communities.”

The areas, which were plunged into internecine war that lasted for about five years since 1998 between the main mandate areas, the Ilaje and Ijaw over oil benefits and marginalisation, has since explored every possible means to forestall such terrific reoccurrence.

Ogunyemi remarked that the primary expectation of OSOPADEC, “as an agency of government saddled with the responsibility of service delivery in a peculiar region, is to engender peace and security and invariably provide a conducive environment for our operations and the people.”

He explained that the theme of the conference, “Peace and Security Initiatives for Sustainable Development,” was specially chosen among many to portray and picture the extant realities of the people in the mandate areas.

According to him: “If we take peace as the absence of violence, and security as freedom from danger, we can conclude that there can be no meaningful development where there is no peace or security.

“We need to remember that conflict is everywhere in the society: even at home it is there. Wherever there is scarcity of resources or unresolved grievances, there will be conflict.”

The OSOPADEC boss said that conflict may take series of complex forms, ranging from intra-personal to inter-personal or intra-group to inter-group, warning that “the only snag is that conflict must not be allowed to degenerate to crisis or violence.”

He charged the people in the areas to guard against divisive tendencies so as to enjoy the peace, tranquility and development that ensued after the unpalatable crises that threatened the areas were resolved through truce.

Ogunyemi, who also emphasised the importance of dialogue and communication as indispensable tools capable of fostering peace and harmony borne out of immeasurable understanding and tolerance of their differences as a people, said: “Ultimately, our inculcation of dialogue and peace would undoubtedly engender development in our land, and bridge the gaps between the ruled and the ruler as well as between the governed and the government.”

He recounted the measures taken by the commission to ameliorate hardship, lack and unemployment in the mandate areas and in pursuance of caring heart projects implemented by Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, among others, which include “the establishment of Lakwa Vanguard comprising 300 youths and 11 supervisors to remove weeds from waterways in Ilaje and Ese-Odo local councils.”

Meanwhile, the traditional rulers present at the occasion lauded the numerous initiatives of the commission set in motion to ensure even distribution of resources and equitable development in the areas.

The Deputy Director, Directorate of State Service (DSS), Ugwuja Theo; the Commissioner of Police, represented by Mr. Olanrewaju Stephen; the Nigerian Army Service Chief and Commanding Officer of Forward Operating Base (FOB), Igbokoda, Navy Captain Luka Vonn Jehu, declared their support for the sustenance of peace and security in the areas.

Jehu assured the people that with the co-operation of the people, as it has been enjoyed in the past, the Base will safeguard the lives and property of the people in the waterways.

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