INVEST TO DEVELOP, OKANJE URGES OIL COMMUNITIES

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The Chairman, Board of Directors of Elano Investments Limited, Chief Gomba Okanje, has called on oil producing communities in the Niger Delta to cultivate an investment culture if they wished to improve on the living standards of their people.

Chief Okanje made the call at the just concluded Summit of the Maritime Energy Media Practitioners of Nigeria in Port Harcourt. The theme of the Summit was, “Reviving the Economy through Constructive Maritime Energy Media Engagement.”

In his paper titled, “Enhancing Living Standards in Oil Producing Communities,” the Board Chairman of Elano, said though government and oil companies owed the communities a duty to provide them with social amenities, real development can only come when the communities train the people to take up opportunities in the oil companies and invest in the opportunities around them. Okanje’s paper was presented by Comrade Udeme Obot, Head of Media Unit, Elano Investments Limited. Citing the example of Elano Investments Limited and the Host Communities of Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Limited (IEPL), the Elano Board Chairman, said the investment of the Host Communities and Elano in IEPL has attracted tremendous profit to the communities, which they now use in improving the lives of the people. He said, “Oil producing communities can follow the path that Elano Investments Limited took several years ago that has led to a marked improvement in the standard of living in Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Limited (IEPL) host communities.

“For many years, the communities, which gave out almost a thousand hectares of their farmlands for the siting of the Petrochemicals complex, were battling with development issues. In spite of the huge and highly profitable petrochemical complex on their land, the communities lacked basic facilities like electricity, good roads, pipe-borne water, health centres and even schools. There was high unemployment and even hunger in the land. “But by one stroke of the pen, the story changed. The Host Communities decided to take advantage of the privatisation of the company and bought shares in it. By becoming part owners of the company, the communities shared in the profits of IEPL. And within a few years of that partnership, Elano Investments Limited, which is the company managing the shares of the Host Communities has transformed lives in the communities in a way that even government has never done before.

“From the dividends paid to the communities, Elano has so far constructed at least 15 kilometres of solid asphalted roads with drains and culverts; provided free comprehensive health insurance cover for more than 1,000 families, trained over 52 youths and women in high demand skills in reputable institutions, sponsored brilliant students from the communities on scholarship to pursue Master’s degree programme in top universities in the United Kingdom, helped to firm up security in the communities and expanded frontiers for investments in real estate and agriculture where members of the communities can work and do business in.

“The whole lesson of Elano Investments Limited is to move away from where the communities are mere lapdogs waiting for crumbs to fall for them from the companies to a situation where they can also own the oil companies and partake in the juicy profits of the companies. It must be stated however that this does not come easy. Like Elano invested huge resources to buy into the shares of IEPL, oil producing communities can explore opportunities to be part owners of the companies that operate on their land. It is possible. All we need to do is to look beyond the entitlement mentality and open the door of investment opportunity. 

“Today, the Host Communities of IEPL are developing their communities by themselves from the dividends from investment in the company and still have something left to share at the end of each accounting year. They are determining their projects by themselves and executing them. Whatever therefore is coming from government and the oil companies will be bonus.” The Elano Board Chairman added that investments by the communities can also extend outside the oil industries to areas like agriculture, tourism, telecoms, entertainment, manufacturing and transportation. He also they can also raise capital to invest in other parts of Nigeria and indeed the world and repatriate their profits home for development.

The President of MEMPON, Dr. Ralph John, said the organisation was incorporated to fill the void in critical media coverage of the maritime and energy industries. In his paper at the Summit, the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd), said the computerisation of the Customs has tremendously improved the revenue generation of the department and drastically eliminated corruption. He said customs today generates N80 t0 N90 billion for Nigeria. Ali was represented by ACG Sanusi Umar.

Majoy Sam Okoh (Rtd.) In a paper at the summit lamented that the proliferation of small arms and porous borders were threats to the capacity of government to generate revenue

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