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Sunday, April 9, 2017

OSOPADEC Chairman, Barr. Olugbenga Edema Visited Ilaje Traditional Rulers and Stakeholders to foster peace; Received Royal Blessings


Following the Illegal immigrants to the OSOPADEC branch office yesterday in Igbokoda by some youth under disguised of Ugbo Youth, claiming that the Members of the newly constituted OSOPADEC Board which has three representatives from Ese-Odo was not comfortable, and which led to destroying glasses of the OSOPADEC building.

The visionary Chairman of the OSOPADEC Board, BARR. Olugbenga Edema has urgently visited the local government and met with all traditional rulers and stakeholders of the land in order to foster peace and anomaly.

In his words, Barr. Edema expressed his readiness to transform Ilaje land to a modern city.

"Ilaje will soon be transformed to a more Vibrant and Dynamic Economic Zone

I am specially pleased to be here in Ilaje Local Government today to foster peace and restore Grace to the land. The development of Ilaje Nation should be paramount to us by now, and we shouldn't be intimidated under any disguise to damage properties belonging to us.

I am here as an emissary of the people of Ilajes home and abroad, and Ondo State in general and decided that we must undertake visits to engage with the leadership and people of our oil producing Local Government, to hear them, to seek to better understand their problems and concerns first hand and to offer to this community in the OSOPADEC Board, a new vision and a new compact.

I have a personal affinity for the Ilaje land having served as House of Assembly member even in the face of persecution under former Administration of Dr Olusegun Mimiko, which are very much an integral part of this land.

The experience also provided a rude awakening to the dangers that the exploitation of oil and gas resources posed to the environment and livelihoods of the people of Ilaje land.

The experience that I am describing even before I was elected as House of Assembly member was years ago. It is therefore extremely discomfiting to know that we are still confronted with the very same situation. An unedifying lack of development and access to basic amenities in the abundance of plenty. A situation typified by continued environmental degradation and a disturbing lack of opportunities for those who can no longer carry out traditional occupations like fishing and farming.

What we now have is an unhappy cycle of discontent sometimes expressed by a resort to violence and vandalism and drawing in response a strengthening of security arrangements and a gamut of palliative measures. This vicious cycle cannot continue as it builds needless tensions and frayed nerves. We just have to take meaningful steps to bring about permanent peace and prosperity to Ilaje Local Government, and the people of Ondo State.

Ilaje Local Government is unarguably our oil and gas capital hosting. It has of course hosted several oil companies and associated firms just as it is home to the international  community intended to serve this part of State as well as making Ondo State fifth largest Oil Producing States in Nigeria.

It is of course also home to the Ilaje people who symbolise in many eyes, domestically and internationally, the previous neglect of this region and the environmental damage that has been done to the area as they have exploited oil and gas to grow the rest of the economy. This is indeed why the Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu Administration prioritised and signed the MOU with NDDC for Araromi Ogun, and Lagos Road ’ and with working with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and other partners to undertake this important task.

Let me briefly update you on the progress to be recorded under my watch as the Chairman of OSOPADEC Board.

The Project office will be staffed by an initial 30 staff from both federal and state levels. Additional contracted experts from outside the system will be supported by Project Management Consultants, Monitoring & Evaluation Consultants and Communication Company.

A Technical Committee will be set up in the Commission, and will be working on the project-related activities that must be addressed immediately. Some of these projects in preparation include;

1. Provision of clean drinking water to the  communities.

2. Conducting a health impact assessment study being planned, in order to begin to better understand the level of the human health issues.

3. Demonstration of remediation technology, which will allow for the testing of the different approaches that are being proffered from around the world, and to ensure that only the best is ultimately applied.

4. Groundbreaking for the construction of an integrated contaminated soil management centre which will be critical to the developmental process.

5. Groundbreaking for the construction of a Centre of Ilaje/Ese-Odo.

6. Training

7. Construction of Walkway, Class Rooms, and road projects.

An important part of the planned work is skills and livelihood training, which will be essential in ensuring the long term sustainability of the result of Ilaje Development. As part of our behavioral change strategy, we plan to train about 2000 women from the two local governments in different skills that will enable them to be financially independent. These skills include Snail Farming, Palm Oil Processing, Green Housing, Fishing – Shrimps, Agriculture Extension, and Pottery.

These skills will be chosen from among the many that would be suggested by a committee of representatives of Ilaje/Ese-Odo to agree on the first steps for the Project.

In parallel with the planning and procurement of the services for training, there will be a community based sensitization program in this LGA to ensure all stakeholders are aware of all projects and its mandate.

It will serve as an entry point to reinforce the change in service delivery that no longer ‘shares money’ but delivers results in the lives of the Ilaje/Ese-Odo people and lays the foundation for a developmental projects that is sustainable and provides the standards for the whole of Ondo state.

CONSULTATIONS

All the steps we have taken so far today have been in a consultative process, and for peace to reign in our dear land.

In the next 2months will be critical to starting a long journey to realizing the fruits of a struggle that has cost many lives and loss of the ecosystem.

Of course, Ilaje is just one, though important part of the Ondo State. Environmental remediation is essential across the entire region in order to restore healthy living conditions, enable other productive activities to take-off or resume and improve the quality of lives in general.

This would of course require that we do not worsen the situation by acts which would further worsen the environmental damage that has already occurred.

It is now clear that Ondo State needs a new vision. But not just a new vision but a fresh commitment and a renewed spirit by all stakeholders including Ilaje Local Government, Ondo State, federal agencies and oil- bearing communities.

Let me lay it this out for clarity:

The State government will begin a partnership with the oil producing states, local governments, oil companies, private sector, and civil society organizations for the rapid development of this community. An oil communities intervention meeting is to work out what can be done in the short to medium term and the long term possibilities. There is no way that this new vision will be aborted because it does not depend for execution on the Federal government. Every stakeholder has a part to play. Oil exploitation by itself cannot suffice to assure our people of decent jobs and a decent income.

We must make our oil producing community hubs for petro-chemical industries, small and large. We must make these communities hubs for refining and related activities.

The Ministry of Petroleum in collaboration with the oil companies is working on several initiatives for host communities including working with illegal refiners in oil bearing communities to participate in modular refineries to be established. There is no doubt that Thermal power stations should be stationed here, it makes sense, the gas deposits are here.

The biggest benefit we can obtain is to attract more investment to this land. But investments have a choice. They will go where they find an enabling environment especially security. It is up to us as government Body and people to assure the necessary enabling circumstances for investment. I must commend the traditional rulers,  especially Ugbo Kingdom for their quick intervention in calling the youths to order, for maintaining peace in their various communities. You have set the stage for progress.

I had stated at the start of my tours that there was no reason why the infrastructure in this local government should not look and feel like Dubai. This is a point that I continue to stress. However, we must admit to ourselves that damage to government properties, pipelines and export facilities are also damage to infrastructure.

Such damage also affects gas supply and if we are unable to generate electricity, all our demands for electrification may come to nought since there will be nothing to distribute.

One thing that this government is determined to do is to change Nigeria from being a country that merely exports crude oil to ensuring that other parts of the economy contribute their own share while at the same time ensuring that we add value to our oil and gas resources. This is why we will be ensuring that our traditional institutions are up and running while also encouraging the establishment of co-located Oil.

The intention of course is to create jobs and opportunities for small and medium scale enterprises along the value chain. However, people can only work and businesses thrive in an environment of peace. This is why the Federal Government on its part is committed to continued implementation of the Amnesty Programme and to ensuring that its social investment interventions impact on lives in the Niger Delta.

Your Royal majesty, and the good people of Ilaje/Ese-Odo, the future is here. There is no time to waste. We must all re-commit to working together to making the Ilaje Nation a vibrant and dynamic economic land. On its part,  Federal Government will use its forthcoming Economic Recovery and Growth Plan to restore growth, diversify the economy and promote social inclusion. We intend to do so through dedicated spending on capital and by paying particular attention to ensuring supply of power and petroleum products in addition to using small businesses to drive our push for industrialization.

As you have challenged the State government to Action, I challenge Ilaje/Ese-Odo, traditional rulers and communities too, to play their part faithfully. If we do, we will change the trajectory of the history of neglect and attain the glorious manifest destiny of the people of this State.

Thank you for your kind attention;

The Traditional Rulers at each of their palaces gave a Royal blessings to the OSOPADEC Chairman for wisdom, knowledge and understanding to shoulder his responsibilities. And promised peaceful coexistence among the people of Ilaje Local Government.

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