The paramount ruler of Okpella, the Okuokpellagbe of Okpella Kingdom, Alhaji Yesufu Dirisu, at the weekend condemned in strong terms the alleged divisive tendencies of agents of a cement company in the community, warning that he would no longer tolerate any group using pseudonyms to dent the integrity of his palace.
Alhaji Dirisu, who was receiving in audience some concerned stakeholders at his palace, spoke against the backdrop of reports allegedly sponsored by the management of a rival cement firm to the effect that the people of the community are spoiling for a showdown with Dangote Cement over its decision to come to the community to explore limestone for cement production.
This development came in the wake of reports in newspapers claiming that the people of the community were not favourably disposed to Dangote Cement’s plan to invest and explore limestone in the area for cement manufacturing.
The traditional ruler said emphatically: “It’s all lies, nobody has said that Dangote should not come to Okpella to do business and do exploration. Some people for their selfish interest have been publishing falsehood, saying Okpella community does not want Dangote.
“I am the Okuokpellagbe of Okpella Kingdom. I am speaking of behalf of the chiefs, elders and youths of this community, we have no issue with Dangote Cement.
“I have said it times without number, we want Dangote to come and do business here in Okpella. When every community, states and even nations are looking for investors, why should we ask Dangote not to come to our community?
“Aren’t we even lucky that he has seen something that is bringing him here? We want development for our people and the community. Some people somewhere just sat under a tree and conjured a report stating that we called Dangote Cement people murderers and kidnappers. Never, we never said so!
“That is why the Okpella Youth Initiative has challenged the faceless forum and asked them to retract that publication. We really mean it. If they don’t within 14 days, we will take the next necessary action.”
Alhaji Dirisu said he had to make his stand and that of his community known in order to clear the air, adding that he had written a letter personally inviting and permitting Dangote to come and start exploration of limestone in the community.
“If BUA has a cement factory, that does not mean another company should not prospect for minerals in our land. As it stands, it is Dangote that is delaying, but we are fully behind him. He has 101 per cent support of all of us in Okpella.
“Let it go on the record that there is no bad blood between Okpella and Dangote. He is a friend of our people, he is my friend, he is our governor’s friend. We love him, he has nothing to fear. We want him to hasten things.
“Anything that can bring development is what we stand for. And Dangote Cement is one of the companies that can bring development and economic prosperity to our people and community,” the Okuokpellagbe declared.
Speaking later, one of the youth leaders, John Umoru, said there was no security threat anywhere within the community, pointing out that the youths also stand for peace.
“We the Okpella youths, we love peace and we like to do anything that will bring peace. It is in the atmosphere of peace that businesses can also thrive. We need jobs, we need economic empowerment.
“What we hear Dangote is doing in Obajana, Ibese, Gboko and the rest of Africa, we want him to come and do it here in Okpella. We can’t ask a big investor like Dangote not to come here; we are too enlightened to be involved in such a frivolity,” he said.