Recently, the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC) rolled out the drums to celebrate the one-year in office of the Commission under the captainship of His Majesty Eze S. N. A. Uzor. It is one event that attracted the grassroots and elite alike. The re-engineered ISOPADEC has become an attitude, a movement with unprecedented followers.
In the twilight of the Udenwa administration, precisely in 2006, the Imo State Oil Producing areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC) was established by Law No. 10 as amended by law No. 8 2007. When the Commission was empanelled, his Majesty, Eze S. N. A. Uzor, a man of rare pedigree, was called upon to avail the Commission of his wealth of experiences.
Eze Uzor, whose intimidating profile spanned all facets of human attainment, had been at the forefront of the agitation for emancipation of the Niger Delta peoples. He stood solidly against the dissolution of OMPADEC in the dawn of the Obasanjo era. The then president, piqued at the ineptitude, or more appropriately, seeming inefficiency in OMPADEC, had resolved to dissolve the board of the Oil Mineral Producing Communities Development Commission. Eze Uzor and other traditional rulers of the Niger Delta under the aegis of TROMPCON, The Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria, were apprehensive of a total reversal in the drive for the emancipation of the Oil producing peoples. Their efforts paid off with not only the formation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) but also the 13% derivation Committee, later upgraded to the various Oil Producing Commissions across the Niger Delta area.
Assisting the erudite sage in the running of the Commission is a cream of eminent achievers, including Hon. Justice N. O. Adigwe (retd), the Commissioner for Education and Human Resources in the Commission; Chief John Nwosu, in charge of Agriculture and Health; Chief Charles Ekwegh, overseeing Finance; Engr. C. O. Obi, ISOPADEC works Commissioner; and Mr. Udenze Aliakor, Secretary to the Commission. It is no doubt this assemblage of veteran self-starters in various disciplines that is the success story of ISOPADEC as we see it today.
A kind of alchemy seemed to be unfolding before our very eyes. There has always been some form of rescue whenever the world has fallen to the depths of decadence. In the biblical times, when destruction was afoot, Noah was sent to build the arc that secreted God’s chosen to safety. Even, in Nigeria, mobile courts were once instituted to curb the unacceptably high rate of awaiting trial cases that completely overwhelmed the judiciary and stretched the prisons. Today, the restiveness in the Niger Delta necessitated the intervention of ISOPADEC, which has through effective leadership justified the objectives behind its formation.
The Commission mindful of the dictum that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop had ab initio identified with the youths of the Oil Producing areas in the state. The formation, firm and effective handling of the ISOPADEC Youths body, has successfully latched away youth unrest and restiveness in the area. Many schemes have been evolved for the youths including maintenance votes for their office and programmes; skill acquisitions, among others.
It is difficult to believe that within a space of one year so much has been achieved by the body – numerous tertiary (undergraduate and postgraduate) scholarship awards to deserving sons and daughters of the area; micro credits, women empowerment and other poverty alleviation schemes; free medical health-care initiatives that have resuscitated many people to full health and prevented many untimely deaths; and a motley of projects, most of them already completed and commissioned. These projects are evenly distributed around the Oil Producing areas in Imo state with many more earmarked for execution in the new phase. The worthy testimony of the phenomenal impact of the ISOPADEC is many pronged – the speedy completion of projects, the curbing of restiveness in the area, oral and written attestations from disinterested sources, and the engagement of almost everybody, nook and corner of the target areas. The various Town unions, Youths and Women leaders are all carried along in the project formulation, distribution and execution. Thus the Port Harcourt road, Owerri office of the Commission has become a bee-hive, a market area of sorts, thronged by different shades of people including job seekers, community leaders, contractors, journalists, among others.
Therefore when the drums were rolled out for the first year celebration, the crowd was unprecedented. People from all works of life swarmed both the venue of the church services and the reception with the overload scattered in various corners of Oguta Township. Sustenance of the good works of the Commission is entreated. The ISOPADEC go on, you are effectively on cue!
Clarius Ugwuoha writes from the Ezeali Palace