The Battle For The Soul Of ISOPADEC – By Collins Ughalaa

On Tuesday, January 14, 2020, Imo State witnessed what many had described as a tsunami when the Supreme Court declared Senator Hope Uzodinma the Governor of the state and ordered his immediate swearing in. Expectedly, the political landscape saw some changes. New players emerged. New ideas emerged. New arguments emerged. New expectations emerged. New battle grounds emerged.

While some self-centred leaders fight new battles, especially to grab the levers of the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC), Opiah stands out, pushing new ideas on how the interventionist agency could be put to better use in the service of the people.

The bickering over who becomes the Managing Director of ISOPADEC has assumed new frightening dimensions of blackmail and hate, all geared towards creating a rift among brothers and drawing back the hand of development. But Opiah typifies committed leadership and occupies himself with how the interventionist agency could deliver expected goodies to the people.

A consummate leader and politician, Opiah champions the course of the people and argues that the neglect of the oil producing communities could be arrested and a new life unleashed for the people. The potentials that abound in the oil producing communities cannot be tapped maximally if the government agencies, especially ISOPADEC, saddled with addressing the challenges in the area fail to live up to their responsibilities.

In a meeting attended by critical stakeholders of the area such as Chief Charles Orie, Dr. Gideon Nwaeze, Prof Okey Okoro, Chief Eugene Dibiagwu, Hon. Kyrian Uchegbu, Brig. Gen. Kalu Austin Egwuagu (rtd.), Chairman, Adapalm Board, the House of Assembly members representing Ohaji/Egbema State Constituency, Hon Hercules Okoro, and Oguta State Constituency, Hon Frank Ugboma, Hon. Watchout Nnanna, etc, at the government house Owerri, on Wednesday, February 5, 2020, Opiah informed the Governor that the challenges the people suffer are common. From poverty, illiteracy, youth restiveness, lack of development, et cetera, what the people of the 48 oil producing communities of Ohaji-Egbema and Oguta LGAs need is committed leadership at all levels, especially at ISOPADEC, Opiah maintained.

Describing Ohaji-Egbema and Oguta LGAs as the golden hen that lays the golden egg, he said that the people of the oil producing communities have high expectations of the government, saying: “Our expectations are so high, that your government, with your personal magnanimity would take steps to make a difference from what we have seen from the past administrations. We believe that your arrival as the Governor of Imo State would surely change the trend and ensure that we get the full benefits from the Imo State Government as the oil producing communities. It is very provocative and embarrassing that when you go round all the oil producing companies you can hardly find one indigene of Ohaji-Egbema and Oguta Local Government Areas working with the oil producing companies at any level. This has given rise to what people call youth restiveness in the oil producing communities. We know that you are a focused, determined and peace loving person. We are also determined as a people to ensure that peace is maintained in the two local government areas in order to give your government the chance to give the people the benefits expected of your administration”.

While urging the Governor to “ensure adequate funding of the Commission”, Opiah urged the Governor to “also ensure that funds accruing to it is properly utilised”. He added: “This can only be possible through the appointment of credible and knowledgeable men and women of track record that can drive that Commission to success”.

It is therefore shocking that instead of searching for “knowledgeable men and women of track record that can drive that Commission to success”, some people who are already positioning themselves for the position of the MD of ISOPADEC have begun blackmailing Opiah. In a terse story on the social media, one ignorant fellow spewed hatred against Opiah when he alleged that N400M monthly allocation of the Commission was tearing Rt. Hon. Goodluck Nanah Opiah and Chief Charles Orie apart.

To set the records straight, ISOPADEC does not receive up to N400M monthly allocation. It gets far below that. Again, since the emergence of Governor Hope Uzodinma, ISOPADEC had paid only one month salary, that of January. I am certain that the payment did not come from Barr Elsie With my understanding of how the Commission works, it is impossible for anyone to return the balance of money to anyone, just “to remain in his good books”.

The story as woven by its purveyor does not add up. It is entirely false and Opiah does not know about the claims made by obvious detractors. Opiah is only interested in having competent hands on the saddle of the Commission. He is not interested in any pecuniary gains.

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