May 29, 2024

Okomu Oil: Over Commercialization of Edo State Forest by PDP’s Governor Obaseki, Cause of Insecurity

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By Orobosa Omo-Ojo

Recently, armed bandit, that called themselves ‘Ijaw Freedom Fighters’ launched attack on a community called Imariogha, formerly known as AT&P, located in Ovia South West Local Government Area of Edo, near the Okomu Oil Palm Plantation, and set some vehicles ablaze.

The incident that started at midnight left one Okomu Oil workers dead.

According to report, the militants left a note that was addressed to Governor Godwin Obaseki on the corpse.

Alleged victim of violent clash in Okomu Oil

They identified themselves as Ijaw Freedom Fighters and in it, made several demands from the management of Okomu Oil Palm Plc.

Part of the demands is a position of Director in the company and 25% of the shares.

“We are not fighting any security personnel but Okomu Oil Company.”

A major contributor to the hostile confrontation faced by oil palm production company if the fact that they have exploited the land to the detriment of host communities.

One of the burnt vehicles

All that the company is interested in is the share value of the company in the Capital Market.

The deplorable community relationship has been encouraged by government to abandon their Corporate Social Responsibility agreement.

Sadly, the PDP governorship candidate, Mr. Asue Ighodalo has been on the board of Okomu Oil for several years before he stepped aside recently and he was replaced by another PDP chieftain.

What is happening in Okomu is a microcosm of what has befallen Edo State agricultural sector, where community lands have been allocated to plantation farmers.

Indigenous farmers have been chased away from the family lands and handed over to ‘white farmers’ by the PDP administration, led by His Excellency Godwin Obaseki.

Hundreds of Edo farmers have been rendered jobless and now go outside the state to farm before they can eat.

The way out of the present dangerous violent trend is to attend to the complaints by the host community.

Arming the various capitalist companies with sophisticated guns may not solve the problem holistically.

The Edo State farmer’s cry is compared to the case of ‘white and black farmers in Zimbabwe’.

There is urgent need to bring all parties to the negotiation table to avert complete breakdown of peace in Okomu, host community to Nigeria’s leading palm oil producing company.

Hon Orobosa Omo-Ojo JP, Publisher Midwest Herald, writes from Benin City, Edo State

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