Host Communities of Nigeria, Producing Oil and Gas (HOSCOM), Kogi chapter, on Saturday commended the Federal Government for declaring Kogi as an oil-producing state.
The chairman, Bishop Gabriel Ojoka, gave the commendation when he led his executive members on an advocacy visit to the Kogi Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr David Apeh, in Lokoja.
He commended the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for ensuring that justice was done in according Kogi its rightful status as an oil-producing state.
He described the state’s new status as a divine intervention for the host communities in Ibaji Local Government Area which had suffered decades of lack, deprivation and denial.
Ojoka said the Ibaji community had no access to the national grid for electricity, lacked potable water, roads and jobs for its youths, adding that the community had been neglected for several years.
He said that after several advocacy visits to relevant stakeholders in oil and gas, the state’s chapter of HOSCOM was inaugurated in January 2017 to address the challenges.
The chairman called on the state government to partner with the private sector on Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative to establish a Modular Refinery in the state in view of its numerous advantages aside employment generation.
“Over 10,000 have been recruited and we are given a window to recruit 7,000 pipeline surveillance Security Cadets and that will actually be an area we need the assistance of the state government to give us support,’’ he said.
Ojoka also urged the Federal Government to construct a road linking Idah to Onitsha through Ibaji to address the dearth of road infrastructures and enhance economic activities in the area.
Also speaking, Mr James Odiba, a development expert, said a survey undertaken by the World Bank in year 2000 to ascertain the level of poverty in Kogi revealed Ibaji as the poorest local government in the state.
Odiba said that this was in spite of the agricultural potentials of the area producing 18 per cent of total food needs of the country.
He expressed optimism that when exploration activities begin in the area, development would surely come the way of the people.
Responding, Apeh said it is true that Ibaji community is the poorest in the state with little government presence.
“I want to see what has happened now as something that will mark a turning point in our lives to address issues of poverty, lack of roads, electricity, potable water, educational and health facilities.
“By the time oil production work starts in the community, roads will be constructed; there will be electricity, water, schools and health facilities.
“I think God has brought this to wipe away our tears of many years,’’ he said.
Apeh thanked the executive members of HOSCOM for the visit and promised to channel their requests to the state’s Executive Council for necessary intervention. (NAN)