Chief Emeka Stanley, a Commissioner in the Abia State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (ASOPADEC), has commended the State Government for its collaboration with other agencies to check pipeline vandalism.

Stanley, who spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Umuahia, said that the collaboration was fruitful as the menace of vandalism had dropped drastically.

He said that the effort of the group, which included the commission, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), security agencies and oil marketers, had helped to boost oil production in the area.

“As you know, pipeline vandalism affected the quantum of oil production in the state and consequently, 13 per cent derivation to the state went down.

“But now that the ugly cankerworm has been checked, the oil production level from the state has increased, with an attendant increase in our derivation share,’’ he said.

Stanley commended Gov. Theodore Orji, for establishing the commission, noting that the organisation had helped to accelerate socio-economic development in the oil-producing communities in the state.

He said that ASOPADEC’s skill acquisition and youth empowerment programmes had engaged thousands of youths in the state in productive ventures, adding that the commission was also paying monthly stipend to unemployed youths.

According to him, it is this intervention by the commission that helped to engage the idle youths in profitable ventures during the dark days of kidnapping, pipeline vandalism and other violent crimes in the state.

The ASOPADEC commissioner said that the commission applied funds to the development of health, education, roads and the traditional institution in the state.

According to him, the body purchased and distributed Jeep cars to traditional rulers in the oil producing communities and catchment areas as part of its welfare package to the people.

Stanley added that the commission was currently sponsoring U-15 football competition in the 17 Local Governments in the state as its contribution to sports development in the grassroots.

“We have recorded significant success in terms of infrastructural development in the oil producing communities and the catchment areas since the inception of the commission.’’

He said that by the enabling law, the commission was not encumbered in anyway, and was not facing challenges in the discharge of its assignment.

“I must commend the governor, who has supported the commission and does not interfere with our job.’’