Dr Graham Hefer, the Managing Director of Okumu oil Palm company, has urged host communities to explore the opportunity of its whistleblowing policy to volunteer information on undesirable elements in the communities.
Hefer made the call during an interactive session with representatives of the communities on Wednesday in Okomu, near Iguobazuwa, Ovia South West local government area of Edo.
He said the essence of the interaction was to build a better and more cordial relationship between the 29 host communities and the company.
He was speaking in the aftermath of the recent attacks by unknown gunmen on its plantation, which led to the death of its worker, destruction of hectares of rubber plantation and equipment.
Hefer, who disclosed that the company expended over N20 million on whistleblowing last year, urged the communities to stand up for themselves against hoodlums terrorising them and the company.
He said the people could still take advantage of the policy to volunteer information on the identities of the gunmen, and help the company get back to business for guaranteed provision of social amenities to the communities.
According to him, “are you just going to look and allow hoodlums overrun your communities.
“Are you going to just watch and let the goose (Okomu company) who lays the golden egg be destroyed by hoodlums.
“Are you going to continue to keep quiet and allow thieves carry our banga and logs through your communities and not say anything.
“Are you doing to just watch and allow these hoodlums continue to kill our staff destroy our equipment while they still live among you?
“My appeal is for the community leaders and the subjects to look inward and fish out the bad elements among them ” otherwise, we may be forced to shut down the company.
” How can we operate when our workers are now afraid to go to the plantation for fear of attacks?,” he asked rhetorically.
Chief Augustine Yankee, who spoke on behalf of the communities, appreciated the company’s gesture especially in the area of delivery of its Corporate Social Responsibility to the communities.
Yankee, who condemned the attacks on the company, expressed readiness of the host communities to constitute vigilance groups to repel the gunmen attacks.
A Communication consultant, Mr Kingsley Ehrinwinoghae, who presented a paper entitled “Managing perception: Changing perception and mindset,” said effective communication was key to achieving growth and development in any