By Anthony Obi
Awka, the Anambra State capital was agog on Friday, June 16, when the state chapter of the Oil and Solid Mineral Producing Areas Landlords’ Association of Nigeria (OMPALAN) was inaugurated.
National Leader and Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT), Bishop Udo Azogu, who performed the inauguration said the cardinal objective of the organisation was to maintain the peace, protect impacted communities from environmental challenges in the decision-making processes of critical development agencies at all levels.
“Over the years, impacted communities have suffered untold neglect and deprivation in the administration of mineral resources in Nigeria. This was essentially due to three factors notably: lack of transparency and effective coordination between development agencies and mineral producing areas; absence of internal cohesion among mineral producing areas and the menace of the corrupt middle-man syndrome.
“Impacted communities that bear the brunt of acute environmental challenges became progressively vulnerable to abuse as they watched helplessly while their valuable lands and creeks, which sustained them over the years are massively plundered. This led to incessant agitations by the despondent populace for better living conditions resulting in armed struggle and various forms of criminality that impeded growth.
“OMPALAN has come to fill the gap by providing a credible platform for healthy interactions between the various stakeholders in the production of mineral resources in Anambra State underpinning adoption of best safety standards, security of life and property, capacity building, enabling investment climate, seamless access to democratic deliverables and support for the rule of law.”
Azogu disclosed that the association regretted the gory pictures of devastations in oil and solid mineral producing areas across Nigeria with attendant heavy toll on life and property. He attributed it to flawed policies of successive administrations:
“To put things right, the association has produced a blue print that focuses primarily on transparency in the delivery mechanism of palliative programs from source to target goals. It is a bottom-up initiative designed to strengthen corporate governance, enthrone the rule of law in impacted communities and safeguard the nation’s mineral facilities and company personnel. “We call on the Federal Government to accord oil producing Anambra State the full status of oil producing state in order to access all the derivatives that accrue to benefiting states.”
He congratulated the state leader of OMPALAN, Justice Paul Obidigwe (rtd); chairman, Chief Edwin Uyaemezina; chairman, Advisory Board, Eze Igwe Alex Anakpulu Edozieuno; Agunechemba of Aguileri-Oti, Igwe Nweruche Mmanu and other members for organizing the event:
The association asserted the inviolable right of every Nigerian to live and work in any part of the country without fear or molestation: “No group or nationality is bigger than sovereign Nigeria. All burning national issues will be tackled and resolved appropriately in a civilized manner. It is an incontrovertible fact that the common man is confronted with the same harsh economic reality in Nigeria irrespective of ethnicity or tribe. We must support the rule of law and unite across board to strengthen corporate governance.”