By Chidi Emeagi
Anything oil is money, be it crude or palm oil, the demand whether for domestic or international consumption is high. It is an indispensable product more especially the palm oil which value chain is second to none.
ADAPALM Nig. Ltd. Ohaji, a multi-billion Naira Imo state owned money spinning Agency was a reference point during the era of Dr Sam Mbakwe as governor of Imo State. Also during the military rule, the agency flourished like the lily and gave Imo a name greater than all names in the comity of Palm oil producing states in Africa.
The ADAPALM was also a big IGR source for Imo even under Governor Achike Udenwa to the effect that any politician seeking to be appointed into any office must consider it as his or her first choice. The oil company which situates in area measuring thousands of hectares of land, making it one of the largest Palm Plantation in the entire Africa was also to an extent a gold mine for the Eastern heartland especially when one Kerian Onwuzuruike managed it while Dr. Ikedi Ohakim held sway in Imo.
But something very unpalatable and killing too happened on the 6th of June, 2011 barely eight days into the administration of Owelle Rochas Okorocha, who, on that fateful day, dissolved all management or interim committees of several corporations in Imo and ADAPALM Nigeria LTD was among them. That particularly amateur and ill-advised dissolution of ADAPALM’s management marked an end to the glory of the oil company and stifling of life out of it.
From 2011 to 2020, the company which was registered in 1975 as a limited liability company became a laughing stock. Before this 2011, the Kerian Onwuzuruike led management committee of ADAPALM actually revived the moribund industry and restored confidence among staff who were owed months of arrears of salaries. The whole noise about the repositioning of ADAPALM under Owelle Rochas Okorocha including its unnecessary concessioning to Roche company was a fluke and never woke up the dead giant.
When Gov. Hope Uzodimma came on board and so appointed a former House of Assembly Member, seasoned Educationist and political strategist Dr Goddy Esom Obodo from Amafor, Umunwaku in Ohaji-Egbema Council Area in May this year as General Manager ADAPALM, a lot of people had no reason to believe Uzodimma over that appointment. They laughed over it, and dismissed it with a wave of hand because to many, ADAPALM was dead and gone forever. But today, ADAPALM is gradually and steadily coming back to life. It has begun really a critical journey towards taking back its pride of place as it were in the past when men were men.
Chief Goddy Esom is irrevocably committed to breathing fresh air into the nostrils of this once dead money spinning agency called ADAPALM with his smart ideas, wisdom and vision to revive the place like never before. The bible assertion that “when a righteous man is on the throne people rejoice” was actually the case with the appointment of Dr Obodo.
The first set of people to rejoice and commend Gov. Uzodimma for appointing Obodo as ADAPALM GM were Landlords Association and followed by many stakeholders and concerned Imolites who had yearned for the revival of the oil company. Dr Goddy Esom Obodo immediately swung into action and strategically began to market the place, meeting and interfacing with critical stakeholders, Ndieze, Landlords, Staffers, etc with the sole intent to ascertain the problems of the place, analyze them and possibly come up with a better way forward.
The General Manager ADAPALM in August this year in his office received some Central Bank of Nigeria officials through the instrumentality of Gov. Uzodimma. They were at the place to see things for themselves and report progress on how to make ADAPALM the source of fresh palm oil in Nigeria and for export too as it were in the 80’s and 90’s.
Dr Goddy Esom Obodo is making several efforts to revive the place and only in June 2020 disclosed his management’s resolve to secure ₦52 Billion from CBN to inject into the company particularly in the area of Mill reactivation, production and plantation to make the place compete and even surpass Malaysia in palm oil production.
Undeterred and not dampened in the spirit with threatening realities he met on ground due to long neglect and abandonment of the place, Obodo stood still and waved at all including foreign investors to come to his aid. Today his pleas are paying off as most of the critical stakeholders, workers, partners and host communities are on the same page with him, all in an effort to make ADAPALM great again.
Aside by regularly paying many staff salaries since he came onboard and bringing back all that were disengaged during Okorocha era when the centre could not hold, Obodo has restored hope and confidence among Land owners and all that matter in ADAPALM.
He recently received a team of investors from TAK International group led by Mr Guido Firetti on how to get the best out of ADAPALM so that it becomes the hen that lays the golden egg for Imo state and Nigeria at large.
To the glory of God, Adapalm Ohaji is today producing atleast 25 tonnes of fresh palm oil daily, with a promise to top up under the watch of this great administrator and human resource management expert. He has also embarked on the clearing of the thick forest surrounding the palm estate to ensure that those who come to invest in the place will have access to inspect the plantation.
I expect Dr. Obodo and his team to explore every option explorable to make the place what it used to be moreso, he should consider the felling down of some palm trees that have outgrown their usefulness and new ones planted to get the best out of the place.