Photo: Governor Hope Uzodimma (c) flanked by Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku (r), Dr ABC Orjiako (L), Eze Asor of Asa (2nd right), and others when Seplat Petroleum Development Company paid a courtesy visit to the Governor at the Government House, Owerri.
Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has pledged to support Seplat Petroleum Development Company towards its efforts to develop the host community in Imo in particular and the state in general.
The governor gave the indication on Saturday when Chairman of Seplat, Dr. ABC Orjiakor led an eight man management team to the Government House, Owerri to interface with the Governor and leaders from their host community in Ohaji, on how to foster a better relationship that would guarantee sustainable development.
Governor Uzodimma who lauded Seplat as a success story, both locally and internationally, charged the Chairman and his team to take advantage of the current administration to deepen the existing relationship the oil company has with the state and its host community.
“There is a new order. We may not be able to do business as usual in Ohaji where the traditional ruler will not be recognized in decision making and taking of the companies doing business in his community.
“I urge you to include Imo people in your management. If the community is good to host your business, the people from the community should also be good to be part of the management. If you think they do not have the requisite qualification, train them to your standard and use them,” Governor Uzodimma said.
The governor encouraged Seplat to do more town hall meetings with their host community where they will collectively assess the needs of the people based on global standards regardless of the existing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme.
Governor Uzodimma said Seplat will gain more by engaging the traditional ruler and the town union president of the host community on how the company and the host community can work together, saying “we will no longer allow the place to be used as a community where people go to hire thugs because this is a new era.”
Governor Uzodimma reminded Dr. Orjiakor that Seplat should get more involved in the development of key infrastructure in Imo State, tasking him to take advantage of a federal government tax relief to his company and embark on the re(construction) of one or two federal roads in Imo State.
The Governor also challenged Dr. Orjiakor to bring the headquarters of Seplat to Imo, saying “I want to commission your headquarters in Imo State.”
Governor Uzodimma reminded Dr. Orjiakor that his administration is interested in establishing a petro-chemical industry and gas fabrication plant that can power a planned industrial layout in Owerri, and promised to work with Seplat to ensure that the ANOH Gas Project at Asa becomes a success story.
Earlier, Dr. Orjiakor told Governor Uzodimma that Seplat is interested in developing the area where the company is located and that the firm places premium on quality of life of the people.
Dr. Orjiakor commended the Governor for taking the initiative, despite his very busy schedule, to grant Seplat and the host community audience on how both can work together to achieve development for the society.
The Seplat Chairman further committed the firm to a cordial relationship with the traditional ruler and town union leader of the Ohaji community, and assured the Governor that the oil company has got some Imo State indigenes who hold key positions in Seplat.
Also speaking, the traditional ruler of Asa in Ohaji, Eze Emmanuel Aso, commended Governor Uzodimma for giving them the opportunity to interface with Seplat, noting that what looks like a challenged relationship with the oil company was due to the seed of discord which the former regime of Rochas Okorocha sowed in the community which made some of the indigenes of the community to see themselves as outlaws.
Eze Aso pleaded with the governor to rein in the few individuals in the community who have been carrying on as if government does not exist.
The meeting was well attended with the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prof. Placid Njoku, the Chief of Staff, Bar. Nnamdi Anyaehie, Commissioners, and other members of the expanded state executive council in attendance.
Also in attendance were leaders from Ohaji such as former Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly who is now the Special Adviser to the Governor on Petroleum Matters, Goodluck Opiah, the Traditional Prime Minister of Asa Autonomous Community, Chief Charles Orie, among others.