The Managing Director of the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC), Engr. Anthony Okwuosha, Tuesday, August 20, 2019, called on the academia in the oil producing communities in Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta local government areas of the state to partner with the Commission to effectively address the challenges in the area in line with the state government’s policy to develop the oil producing communities.
According to a press release issued by the Special Assistant to the Managing Director of ISOPADEC, Engr. Okwuosha made the call while addressing a delegation of the Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta LGAs Academia Forum (OEOAF) in his office.
He called on the Forum to assist in changing the thinking of some people in the oil producing communities, stressing that the Commission is not a charity organization.
He said: “People come for all kinds of support from the Commission and someone had told me that this place was set up for charity. Maybe that was the thinking of the people about the Commission and this thinking might be the reason that for the past 12 years of the existence of this Commission you cannot see any landmark project in any of the communities, neither can you find anyone who had benefited from any skill acquisition or the so-called empowerment from the Commission that is running his own business today. We will change this thinking because ISOPADEC is not a charity organization. We are here to serve the people and better their condition, but we are not here to do charity work”.
The Managing Director said that the Commission is planning on the best way to get more of the youths into school and encourage those who are already in school to study more. He called on the members of the academia to come up actionable programmes that could assist the Commission in rendering services to the people.
He said: “You are in the system and you are the custodians of our educational system. If you insist that we will get it right, we will. That is why you are there, to make sure that we develop the system. It is important you insist on not accepting half measures, because when you insist on the right things, the students would comply.
“We need people in the academia to be involved in politics and in governance because it is only people that understand the socio-political and economic needs of the people that can help develop the society. We need the OEOAF to partner with ISOPADEC to serve our people. I challenge your association to partner with the Commission and come up actionable demands that can impact on the lives of the people. This Commission belongs to all of us and you must own it. Look at the bursary programme and see how best we can help our students to succeed and get more of our people into school”.
He added: “The challenge in the rural communities is huge and for us to address the issue of unemployment we must start from where we have the comparative advantage. We have to develop the agricultural sector and create the value chain for our farmers. If we don’t develop the value chain for agriculture in such a way that our farmers would be making some money, the youths cannot get involved in agriculture. If in the next two harvesting seasons we have not developed the value chain for our farmers it means we have not achieved anything.
“We will also train our youths in skills acquisition and empower them in such a way that they would be running on their own and not see it as free money. We are also going to engage our youths in sports and create value chain in the sports sector, so that our youths will not only play football but also produce football. There is no country in the whole of West Africa that produces football. This means that the market for football is huge. We are also planning on engaging our youths in wood works and footwear making. We have a lot to do for our people, and that is why we need your partnership.”
He called on the academia in the oil producing areas to support the Governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, and the Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Gerald Irona, and to play whatever roles that would be required of them towards the success of the government.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation and leader of the Ohaji.Egbema/Oguta LGAs Academia Forum, Mr. Ikegwuruka John Donald, said they visited the MD “to discuss the collective interest of the people” of the oil producing areas. He noted that ISOPADEC had not got it right since its creation, adding that “For the past 8 years of ISOPADEC, if you didn’t know anybody nothing worked for you. ISOPADEC had not worked, but we are optimistic it will work now. We are not interested in what we will gain as individuals but for the collective interest of the people.”
Mr. Ikegwuruka assured that the group would partner with the Commission to improve on the lives of the people. He said that his group is interested in the bursary programme of the Commission and urged the MD to ensure that the Commission would not give cash to any of the beneficiaries and that they would be properly identified.
The group also requested the Commission to consider purchasing GCE, JAMB and WAEC forms for the youths and setting up lesson centers in the communities as ways of encouraging them to get into school.
Also speaking during the meeting, Prof. Innocent Madufor urged the Commission to consider sponsoring graduates from the oil producing areas for post graduate programmes, noting that the standard in some universities is that someone must possess a PhD to be able to be employed as a lecturer.
“The system in some schools such as FUTO requires a PhD for someone to be meaningfully employed. The little earnings of some of our graduates cannot carry the burden of such programme. They need the support of the Commission”, he said.
On the OEOAF delegation were: Prof Innocent Madufor (FUTO), Mr. Ikegwuruka John Doanld (ALVAN), Engr. Stanley Nwadike (Fedderal Polytechnic Nekede), Mr. Ihenacho Uchechukwu (ALVAN), Mrs. Ogochukwu Adizua (ALVAN) and Mr. Ferdinand Uzoigwe (IMOPOLY).