Niger Delta stakeholders harp on companies, host communities’ cooperation for sustainable development

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Members of Civil Society Organisation (CSO), community leaders and other stakeholders in the Niger Delta region on Tuesday harped on the mutual relationship among companies operating in the area and their host communities, as a panacea to sustainable development and a lasting solution to security in the environment.

This was canvassed at the maiden edition of a one-day community stakeholders meeting held at Udo, Ovia South-West Local Government Area of Edo State with the theme: “Sustainable Development and Security”.

Welcoming participants to the meeting, the convener of the event and Coordinator, Voice of the Earth Initiative (VOTI), Chief Sunday Ajele, said the meeting was organised to ensure that companies, especially the Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc, and its host communities live in harmony devoid of any infringement by the communities and the company on the mutual rights of the parties.

Ajele, who expressed worry at the series of reports of attacks, and stealing on the Okomu Oil Company and the reports of harassment, invasion and evacuation of communities by the company, said that the programme was organised to enlighten both parties.

“This meeting has become very necessary due to the recent developments widely reported on all media which is painting the inhabitants and the company in a bad relationship,” he added.

The convener particularly mentioned the May 4, 2022 protest by AT and P community against Okomu Oil company, on the allegation that a trench was dug by Okomu Oil Palm Plantation Company on the right of way linking residential houses, schools and religious worship places of the villagers, during which one Mrs Iyabo Butu was shot but barely survived, as the impetus for the meeting aimed at finding a lasting solution to the conflict.

“We also do not have permanent enemies but we do have a permanent interest. We believe that living in harmony and respect for all forms of lives, humans, animals, trees, birds, reptiles and microbes is essential to human happiness and therefore constitutes human rights,” admonished.

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On his part, the Chief Responsibility Officer, Josemaria Escriva Foundation, Dr Jude Obasanmi, urged the communities and Okomu Oil Company to work towards building an expected long-term engagement to drive the greatest impact.

Obasanmi, who was represented by Dr Bright Oniovokukor, said that “on the part of the company, the management must do all within the power to show benevolence and not exploit the community just to maximize profit considering that the day the community discovers this, the accumulated profit cannot compensate for the consequences.

“Community/company relationship has mutual responsibility an5 benefits hence all parties must play their roles accordingly. Parties should consult and seek clarification where necessary,” he pleaded.

Speaking on the theme: “Sustainable Development and Security”, the Interim Chairman, Edo Civil Society Organisations, Comrade Austin Enabulele, said there could not be meaningful development when there is no peace, adding that to achieve peace, “individuals must imbibe it first before radiating it to others.”

Enabulele maintained that the various communities must seek peace first in all that they did so that there could be sustainable development.

He emphasised that there must be trust, equity and justice for peace to reign.

Representatives of Iyase of Udo Community, Friday Araghagha, who happens to be the Community Chairman, said his community and the company had been having a mutual relationship with no rancour.

On his part, the Public Relations Officer, Okomu Oil Company, Fidelis Olise, said his company had taken all preventive measures to secure its farms, hence the seeming infringement and complaints from the host communities.

He also agreed that Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc must also put its host communities into consideration while carrying out its activities to avoid conflict of interest.

Mrs Helen Dise, from Agbede community, on her part, said that Okomu Oil Company had evacuated her community for its farm, adding that the river they used for fishing had been polluted.

Ebiye Jonghan from A/T and P community decried the maltreatment they suffered from the company, lamenting that they had been tagged criminals in the community, stressing that the land belongs to them, hence they should be treated in that regard.

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One thought on “Niger Delta stakeholders harp on companies, host communities’ cooperation for sustainable development

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