By Ruth Chukwuma
WARRI—OIL bearing communities in Delta State have warned Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the state House of Assembly against alleged plans to cripple the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC and divert its fund.
Delta State Oil and Gas Stakeholders Group, DOGSG, which is comprised of Itsekiri, Ijaw, Urhobo, Isoko and Ndokwa ethnic nationalities, said they were aware of a purported ‘clandestine move’ to systematically kill the commission by starving it of fund.
DOGSG, in a statement by Dr. Tagbiretse John, Joseph Ebidenwei, Gregory Eze and Obakpo Goodluck, said that the state of oil bearing communities in the state have deteriorated since the inauguration of the present administration in the state.
The group said: “The reason for the comatose state of DESOPADEC is not farfetched. The non-passage of the 2015 budget of the commission, with barely four months to the end of the year cannot augur well. If the government is organised and the House of Assembly is effective, the 2017 budget would have been at the final stage of its development.”
“It is a shame of colossal magnitude that the 2016 DESOPADEC budget is still ‘lost in transit.’ The most painful part of the debacle is that as at today, nobody knows what the budget looks like or how much is contained therein. Nobody knows if the N28 billion budget presented to the House in March remains or if it has been changed and how it has been altered.
“The laws setting up DESOPADEC is emphatic that half (50 per cent) of 13 per cent derivation fund accruing to the state’s coffers from the Federation Account is to be paid directly to DESOPADEC for the development of the oil bearing communities.
They maintained that failure to do the needful would further worsen the already tensed atmosphere in the Niger Delta region particularly in the state.
Meanwhile, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Okowa, Mr Charles Aniagwu, while denying the allegations, said that there was no iota of truth in the allegation, adding that anyone accusing his boss of plans to scrap the agency was being economical with the truth.
He said, “The very ordinary Nigerians understand the prevailing situation in the country. It’s not true that there is move to scrap DESOPDEC.”