07 May 2014, Warri – Controversy has trailed the process of choosing the executive committee members of the Ilaje Regional Development Council (IRDC), an organisation saddled with the responsibility of relating with oil companies operating in the oil rich Ugbo Community in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State.
Already, some members of the community have rejected the list which has been sent to Chevron Nigeria Limited, the major oil company operating in the area with whom they relate in implementing community development projects.
Meanwhile, the state House of Assembly Committee on Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC) had summoned the stakeholders on the matter in response to a petition written to it by some aggrieved persons.
According to the petition signed by eleven leaders representing each of the communities under the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) signed with Chevron, the people alleged that the names sent to the oil company did not originate from the communities.
The petitioners stated that the GMoU was community-driven and did not need the input of government or the traditional institution before an executive committee is constituted.
They alleged that the Olugbo of Ugbo kingdom, Oba Frederick Akinruntan, unilaterally picked the people on the list and forwarded their names to OSOPADEC, which in turn sent the names to Chevron.
The petitioners alleged that the monarch connived with the government and the OSOPADEC to ensure that their cronies were chosen to represent the people on the board of the IRDC.
But reacting, the Ugbo Council of Chiefs and Elders in a letter to the acting Speaker of the House, faulted the invitation extended to the Olugbo on the issue, alleging that the chairman of the House Committee on OSOPADEC, Gbenga Edema, was an interested party in the issue.
The letter signed by the Chairman, Council of Baales of Ugboland, Chief A. T. Oyetomi and ten others, said the monarch had the power to superintend over matters within his domain, saying Ugboland has associations that interface between host communities and oil companies.
The letter reads: “It behoves on the traditional rulers in Ugboland under the Olugbo to determine the dissolution and composition of executive committee of these associations who are representatives of Obas, Baales and communities under the control of the Olugbo.”
It explained that after the dissolution of the last executive committee of the IRDC, a nine-man committee was inaugurated with the mandate to demand a list of representatives from Baales or heads of the communities.
The letter added that the Baales sent the list of their nominees following which they were screened putting into their consideration educational qualification and exposure.