The Sun News / / 52 minutes ago
By Remi Adefulu
Reprieve finally came the way of dying Okitipupa Oil Palm Company (OOPC) as the new Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s administration in Ondo State has relinquished the over five years’ hold clamped on it by his immediate predecessor.
Akeredolu, in addition, has pledged that his government would not interfere in the running of the firm, which used to rank among the best in the country, where former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Unilever then had substantial shares before it plunged due to government interference.
The governor who announced that the state’s move to hands off at a meeting he held in Akure with the firm’s majority shareholder, EasterPot, led by its Chairperson and former Minister, Housing and Urban Planning, Mrs. Mobolaji Osomo, vowed to send only technocrats to the board of OOPC, which he directed to be constituted immediately.
The decision not to send politicians to the board, according to the governor, underscored the priority his administration accorded agriculture as an inexhaustible source of income for the state and ultimate solution to unemployment in the state.
The meeting was also attended by the state’s Deputy Governor, Popoola Ajayi, the Secretary to the State Government, the Head of Service, representatives of Ministries of Agriculture, Commerce and the Governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Investment.
Osomo, former Commerce Commissioner under the government of the late Pa Adekunle Ajasin, who turned 81 years on June 23, thanked Akeredolu for what she described as “the priceless birthday gift after my heart, which is the return of OOPC to its rightful custodian.”
Chairman of the Board before it was abruptly truncated by government, Wale Osomo, in a statement, painted the gloomy picture of the oil palm firm, saying that the five-year “illegitimate tenure of the Sole Administrator, Niyi Ogunwa, was perilous and years of the locust”, but pledged to revive the firm within the next 100 days.
To drive home his claim, Wale Osomo disclosed that the Ogunwa administration, throughout its five years, maintained no bank account and did not file any annual return expected of a public limited liability company.
Vowing to return the firm to the Stock Exchange within the next 100 days, Osomo said about N5 billion would need to be injected into the oil palm company, hinting of plans to partner the Bank of Industry (BoI) and reputable investors in this regards.
EasterPot with 35 per cent share is the largest shareholder in OOPC followed by the state government, which has 29 per cent share.